Your credit history
Your credit history is information about your loans. It covers loans such as mortgages, credit cards, overdrafts, hire purchase agreements and personal contract plans.
Your credit history includes details such as the amount of the loan, the outstanding amount and any missed payments. This information is listed in a credit report.
Credit reports are available for lenders (such as banks and credit unions) to consult when they are considering applications for loans.
You can request a copy of your credit report.
The Central Credit Register
The Central Credit Register provides credit reports to borrowers and lenders. It is a database that stores personal and credit information on loans of €500 or more. It is operated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
The Central Credit Register started to record loans from 30 June 2017. It keeps a record for 5 years after the last payment for a loan is made.
The Central Credit Register does not decide whether you get a loan. Lenders use the credit report to assess your loan application before making a decision. They may also take into consideration your income and expenses, such as rent and utilities. Different lenders have different criteria for approving loans.
The Irish Credit Bureau
The Irish Credit Bureau (ICB) provided a credit rating service until 30 September 2021. It was a private organisation owned by its members, mainly financial institutions. The ICB deleted its records after it stopped providing the service.
Why your credit history is important
When you apply for a loan or other type of credit, such as a credit card, overdraft, HP or personal contract plan (PCP), the lender has to decide whether or not to lend to you.
The information on your credit report can be used to decide:
- Whether to lend to you
- How much to allow you to borrow
- How much interest to charge you
Under EU law, lenders must assess your creditworthiness before agreeing to give you a loan. Creditworthiness means your ability to repay the loan. This assessment must be based on the information you provide as part of your loan application, and also on the information in your credit report.
Information in your credit report may mean that lenders could decide not to lend to you, even if you have the income to repay the loan. They could refuse your loan if they believe they might be taking a high risk in lending to you.
If you are applying for an overdraft, mortgage, credit card or other type of loan, it is a good idea to check your credit report before you apply. It can help you spot any missed payments you did not realise were missed, or mistakes in your credit report.
Importantly, you can get incorrect information corrected. You also have the right to add a statement to your credit report to explain any special circumstance – see ‘Rules’ below.
What happens if you are refused a loan?
If you are refused a loan because of information in your credit report, the lender must tell you this.
This applies to personal consumer credit agreements for amounts between €200 and €75,000. It does not apply to mortgages.
What information is on the Central Credit Register?
Loans for €500 or more are included on the Central Credit Register.
From June 2017, it includes:
- Credit cards
- Personal loans
From 31 March 2018, it includes:
- Local authority loans
- Moneylender loans
- Business loans
From 30 June 2019, it includes:
- Hire purchase agreements
- Asset finance
- Personal contract plans (PCPs)
What loans are not included?
The following information is not included on the Central Credit Register:
- Utility bills
- Pawnbrokers’ records
- Income and salary information
- Courts Service records – such as information about instalment orders or attachments of earnings
- Insolvency Service of Ireland records (such as information about debt relief notices, personal insolvency or bankruptcy)
- Deposit accounts
- Tax liabilities
What information about you is held on the database?
Personal information on the database includes your:
- Date of birth
- Current and previous addresses
- Personal public service number (PPSN)
- Telephone number
Credit information includes:
- Type of loan (for example, credit card, mortgage, overdraft, personal loan)
- Name of the lender
- Amount of the loan
- Outstanding balance
- Number of overdue payments, if any
- Date of next payment
- Amount of next payment
Consent for a lender to check your credit history
When you apply for a loan, the lender must check the Central Credit Register if the loan is for €2,000 or more.
Lenders can also check the Central Credit Register if the loan application is for under €2,000 or:
- You have requested a re-structure of an existing loan
- There are arrears on an existing loan or a breach of a limit on a credit card or overdraft
Your consent is not required for lenders to check the Central Credit Register.
Separately, you may be required to give the lender permission to check your credit history on another database. Usually, this consent is part of your contract or agreement when you first apply for a loan, so you may not notice that you are giving consent.
Your credit report
You can request your credit report free of charge at any time (a limit may be put on excessive free requests). See ‘How to apply’ below.
You can go to the Central Credit Register website to see a sample credit report and explanation of terms (pdf).
Is there a rating or score on your credit report?
Credit scoring or credit rating is a technique which summarises your credit status at a particular point in time.
The Central Credit Register does not score or grade credit reports. Your lender will make a decision on your loan application based on their own credit policy.
Who else can access your credit report?
Only lenders can access your credit report. They may do this when:
- You apply for a new loan
- You apply to have your existing loan restructured
- You have arrears on an existing loan
- You have gone over the limit of a credit card or overdraft
No-one else, such as employers or landlords, can access your credit report on the Central Credit Register without your consent.
How do you know who has looked at your report?
Your credit report will show each time a lender has viewed your information and the reason they did so. This is called a ‘footprint’. It means that you will know who has looked at your credit report and when.
Request a change to your credit report
If you believe there is inaccurate, incomplete or out-of-date information in your credit report, you can apply to amend the information held on the Central Credit Register.
You can get more information in the factsheet How to request an amendment to information on my credit report (pdf).
If you believe you have been impersonated by another person, you have the right to place a notice of suspected impersonation on your report.
Add a statement to your credit report
It is possible to add a personal statement to your credit record to clarify it. This is known as an ‘explanatory statement’.
For example, if you have had significant expenses due to relationship breakdown, bereavement, illness or another cause, you may add these details to your record.
The statement must be factual, relevant to the information in the credit report, and under 200 words. It should not contain information that could identify another individual (such as their name or workplace).
You can get more information in the factsheet Placing an explanatory statement on my credit report (pdf).
The statement is added to your credit report and it can be viewed when your data is accessed. However, lenders do not have to take your statement into account when assessing you for a loan.
COVID-19 payment breaks
On 18 March 2020, the 5 retail banks (AIB, Bank of Ireland, KBC, Permanent tsb and Ulster Bank), along with their representative body the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), announced a series of measures to support people and businesses impacted by COVID-19. The measures included non-bank mortgage lenders and credit-servicing firms.
Under the measures, up to 30 September 2020, lenders could grant a payment break of up to 6 months for businesses and personal customers. If you agreed to a COVID-19 payment break with your lender:
- The payment break would not be a ‘missed payment’ on your credit report
- Your credit history would not be affected
How to apply
As part of the application, the Central Credit Register will need proof of your identity: your name, address and Personal Public Service Number (PPSN). This is to make sure your data protection rights are protected.
If you are applying by email, you must print, sign and scan your completed application form and then attach it (with scanned copies of your identification documents).
If you are applying by post, you will need to enclose proof of your identity with your signed application form.
To see what a credit report looks like and understand what it means, you can download a sample credit report and explanation of terms (pdf).
Where to apply