North Dakota Bankruptcy Exemptions

You can protect property in a North Dakota bankruptcy using North Dakota's exemption laws.

February 6, 2019

You won’t lose everything when filing for bankruptcy in North Dakota. You’ll be able to use North Dakota’s bankruptcy exemptions to protect property you’ll need to work and live, such as your home, personal items, and a retirement account.

North Dakota Exemptions v. Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions

Some states allow residents to choose between the state and the federal bankruptcy exemptions, but the option isn’t available in North Dakota. You’ll use North Dakota’s state exemptions and, if helpful, the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.

Common North Dakota Bankruptcy Exemptions

Here are some of the more common exemptions in North Dakota. When reviewing them, you’ll want to keep these things in mind:

  • Joint filing. Unless otherwise noted, when spouses file together in North Dakota, each spouse can claim the full amount of the exemption (informally called “doubling”) as long as each spouse has an ownership interest in the property.
  • List and verify your exemptions. You must claim an exemption by listing it in the official bankruptcy forms. You might qualify for exemptions not included in this article, or be required to meet qualification requirements. Consulting with a local bankruptcy attorney is the best way to ensure that you’re protecting your assets.
  • Legal citations. You’ll find each of the statutes in the North Dakota Century Code or the federal law.

North Dakota Homestead Exemption

28-22-02 & 47-18-01 – Up to $100,000 in equity in real property, mobile home, or house trailer used as a primary residence. Spouses can’t double this exemption.

North Dakota Motor Vehicle Exemption

28-22-03.1 – Equity in one motor vehicle up to $2,950; $32,000 if modified for a person with a disability.

North Dakota Wildcard Exemption

28-22-03.1(1) - $10,000 worth of any property if the homestead exemption isn’t used.

28-22-03 - $7,500 worth of any personal property of the head of household.

28-22-05 - $3,750 worth of any personal property if unmarried with no dependents.

Other North Dakota Exemptions

Personal Property

28-22-02 - Wearing apparel to $5,000; fuel and food to last one year; bible or other religious texts; books and schoolbooks; family pictures; church pew; burial plots; crops or grain raised on the debtor's land, limited to 160 acres; insurance proceeds for exempt property.

28-22-03.1 - Personal injury recoveries up to $15,000; wrongful death recoveries up to $15,000; health aids.


11 U.S.C. § 522 - Tax exempt retirement accounts (including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, profit sharing and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, and defined benefit plans).

11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(C)(n) - IRAS and Roth IRAs to maximum (amount changes).

28-22-03.1 - Disabled veterans' benefits (does not include military retirement pay); annuities, pensions, IRAs, Keoghs, simplified employee plans up to $100,000 each. Together with the insurance exemption under this section total may not exceed $200,000. No limit however if needed for support.

28-22-19 - Public employees.

54-52.2-06 - Public employees deferred compensation.

Public Benefits

28-22-03.1 - Social Security and Veteran's disability benefits.

28-22-19 - Public assistance; crime victims' compensation.

52-06-30 - Unemployment compensation.

52-09-22 - Survivor insurance and old age insurance program benefits.

65-05-29 - Workers' compensation.

Tools of the Trade

28-22-03.1(3) - Implements of trade, books, and tools to $1,500.


26.1-15.1-18 & 26.1-33-40 – Fraternal benefit society benefits; unmatured life insurance contracts except for credit life insurance.

26.1.33-40 - Life insurance proceeds payable to the decedent's estate (not to a specific beneficiary).

28-22-03.1(5) - Life insurance surrender value to $8,000 per policy if the beneficiary is a relative of the insured and the policy has been in existence for more than one year before filing for bankruptcy. No limit if needed for support.


14-09-09.31 - Child support payments.

Add any applicable federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.

Nonexempt Property—Property You Can’t Protect With a North Dakota Exemption

Some people can keep all assets, but that isn’t always true. Here’s what will happen to nonexempt property:

  • In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy trustee appointed to administer your case will sell nonexempt property and distribute the proceeds to creditors. Find out more about the bankruptcy process and the Chapter 7 documents you'll need at each stage.
  • In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it works differently. You can keep everything you own, but you’ll pay creditors the value of the nonexempt property, your disposable income, or your nondischargeable debt (support obligations, most taxes, and the like), whichever is more, through your Chapter 13 repayment plan.

You’ll learn more about Chapter 7 and 13 in Which Type of Bankruptcy is Right for Me?

Exemptions, Collection Actions, and Wages

State exemptions are used for more than just bankruptcy. You can use them to protect your property and wages in a collection action. Here is North Dakota’s wage exemption (wage exemptions can’t be used in bankruptcy):

32-09.1-.03 - The greater of the following: 40 times the federal minimum wage, 75% of disposable weekly earnings, or per court order.

Confirming North Dakota Exemptions

This list includes the majority of bankruptcy exemptions available in North Dakota. However, doesn’t include all exemptions. Also, states often create qualification requirements for specific exemptions, and North Dakota might have changed the amounts since this list was last updated. Check the North Dakota Century Code or with a local bankruptcy lawyer.

To learn more about bankruptcy exemptions, the state exemption system, and the homestead exemption rules, read Bankruptcy Exemptions – What Can I Keep When I File for Bankruptcy?

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