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Red Diesel: FAQs about Law, Tax, Usage & More

There are strict rules and regulations that surround red diesel use. Read our FAQs for more information on the rebated fuel. Call 0330 123 1444

Crown Oil

Get Answers to Your Questions on Red Diesel Usage Rules, Taxation Changes and More!

The rules and regulations regarding the use of red diesel have always been tightly controlled. However, as of 1 April 2022, there are new rules surrounding red diesel taxation, resulting in many industries losing access to rebated fuels. To help you untangle the red tape, we’ve answered our most commonly asked questions below, covering red diesel usage rules, taxation changes and more.

Red diesel is used by restricted industries in off-road vehicles and and machinery. It’s virtually the same fuel as regular diesel, except a red marker (dye) is added to identify illegal usage.

To help answer your questions, we’ve put an FAQ together to help anybody considering buying red diesel to better understand the legality and uses of the low fuel duty alternative to DERV – we’ve been supplying it for decades after all.

Can’t find an answer to your questions about gas oil on this page or you’d like to contact our red diesel experts about supplying gas oil to your business? Get in touch today by calling us on 0330 123 1444 to discuss your requirements and request a quote based on the latest red diesel prices.

What is red diesel?

Red diesel, also known as gas oil, is a fuel that is used in off-road vehicles and machinery. Red diesel is the same as regular diesel, but with a red marker (dye) added to it to prevent illegal use on road-going vehicles, hence the name!

Why has red diesel tax changed in April 2022?

Red diesel tax has changed to encourage businesses to use alternative low emission fuels to help the UK achieve its net-zero targets. From 1st April 2022, Crown Oil can only supply red diesel to the following sectors:

  • Commercial boating industry, including fishing and inland water freight industries and passenger ferries
  • Non-commercial power generation, such as hospitals and off-the-grid households
  • Agriculture, forestry, horticulture and fish farming
  • Passenger, freight and maintenance vehicles that run on rail tracks
  • Non-commercial heating, such as off-the-grid homes, places of worships and townhalls
  • Travelling funfairs and circuses
  • Amateur sports clubs, including golf courses

Those industries not listed above must now use fuel that’s taxed at the standard rate for white diesel.

The Government has provided the following guidance for red diesel users to help prepare for the change in tax – but our team of experts are available to assist you.

Is red diesel exempt from tax?

No, it is not entirely exempt, although it is a heavily rebated fuel, which means that the tax charged is much lower than other fuels if you’re using it off-road.

What is the tax on red diesel?

Gas oil is taxed differently to regular road diesel, due to it being an off-road fuel. As such, according to HMRC list of fuel duties, you can expect to pay £0.1114 per litre for marked gas oil (red diesel), including rebates.

How do you reclaim the tax on red diesel?

When purchasing gas oil you need to tell your supplier/dealer what you intend to use the fuel for; propulsion or heating. If the fuel is not needed as road fuel, then it is classed as a tied oil.

To request a repayment or apply for a tax rebate for your fuel, HMRC must first approve it. To apply for approval, fill in form HO27, available from the website and return it to them. Read further and understand more about it on the website.

Is red diesel illegal?

Red diesel isn’t illegal if used in off-road machinery/off-road vehicles. There are a few exceptions to this i.e. road gritters are able to use red diesel for gritting public roads, and tractors when crossing from one field to another (due to a public road that crosses the fields). Farmers are only permitted to travel a small distance in a tractor when using gas oil.

Any use of red diesel in a road vehicle on a public highway is illegal, as it is considered tax evasion. You can find more details on the website.

What are the penalties for using red diesel illegally?

There is no fixed fine for using gas oil illegally, but if you’re caught using it without permission then HMRC will charge you for the restoration of your vehicle’s system, including the cleaning of your tank and filters to remove the marker dye.

You’ll be charged a fee for removal of the red diesel and for storing it. In some cases, you can also be charged for the difference between red diesel and white diesel over the period of time you have been illegally using red diesel. In some cases, the vehicle may be seized.

Who can use red diesel?

As of the 1st of April 2022, the following categories can use red diesel:

  • Travelling fairs and circuses
  • Fuel used for non-commercial purposes – electricity generation and heating
  • Agriculture, horticulture, fish farming and forestry
  • Rail transport
  • Community amateur sport clubs and golf courses
  • Sailing, boating and marine transport (excluding private pleasure craft in Northern Ireland)

The following industries and applications have lost access to rebated fuels:

  • Commercial generators
  • Commercial heating
  • Construction
  • Haulage
  • Leisure
  • Logistics
  • Manufacturing
  • Mining and quarrying
  • Ports
  • Plant hire
  • Road maintenance
  • Waste management
Which vehicles can use red diesel?

Technically, all diesel-powered vehicles can run on red diesel. However, should you use red diesel in a road vehicle, it is considered tax evasion and therefore breaking the law.

Do you require a licence to buy red diesel?

No, you do not need a licence to buy gas oil, but you will need to sign an RDCO form (found here). However, the company selling red diesel or any other controlled oils (rebated bio blend, kerosene and aviation turbine fuel) must be registered with HMRC.

It is the responsibility of the dealer of controlled oils to make sure the fuel is being used legitimately, and they may pass on details about the transactions to HMRC which can be further used by the Road Fuel Testing Units (RFTU).

As of the 1st of April 2022, only the following industries and sectors can use red diesel:

  • Travelling fairs and circuses
  • Fuel used for non-commercial purposes – electricity generation and heating
  • Agriculture, horticulture, fish farming and forestry
  • Rail transport
  • Community amateur sport clubs and golf courses
  • Sailing, boating and marine transport (excluding private pleasure craft in Northern Ireland)

For more details, visit the HMRC website.

What are the laws, regulations and rules regarding the storage of red diesel on a farm?

When it comes to storing oil safely and effectively, every situation is different. For this reason, the following recommendations should only be understood as a general guideline, as a proper site survey should be conducted to determine your specific needs.

General oil storage requirements – This includes having a structurally sound storage tank. Other items required for this particular storage include drip trays, pumps, and ancillary equipment. The integrity of both tanks and ancillary must be of a standard which will be unlikely to leak or burst.

Structural integrity and maintenance of primary storage – A storage tank for red diesel should last around 20 years. However, the storage tank should also be maintained throughout the years to prevent unwanted leaks and pollution. The tank must have an impermeable bund base and walls. Regular maintenance by a professional inspector will reduce the chances of small issues developing into significant problems and helps avoid costly problems for you and the environment.

Safety zone and maintenance recommendations – If you own a fuel storage tank then it is advisable, where possible, to construct it away from any areas which could facilitate the pollution of the environment. It is therefore advised not to build your tank outside of a building within 50 meters of a borehole or 10 meters from inland and coastal waters.

To read more about this topic, click the link below:…/oil_store.pdf

Can you drive on the public roads using red diesel?

No, you can’t use it as a fuel for use on public roads.

However, there is an exception to the rule if you’re a farmer who needs to gain access to more than one bit of land which is divided by a public road; as long as you travel no further than 1.5km, you can drive on the public highway. Other exemptions to the rule are farmers using their tractors for gritting in bad weather.

Can I run my car on red diesel if I only use it on a farm?

As long as the vehicle is only used for off-road, farm-related activity, then you will be allowed to use red diesel for fuel.

What happens if I put red diesel in my car by accident?

We would recommend, if possible, draining your car of all the fuel you’d put in straight away. The issue is that the red marker will remain in your tank once the red diesel is removed, we would always recommend speaking to HMRC or a fuel company.

Is using red diesel for gritting on public roads legal?

Until recently agricultural vehicles, i.e. tractors were not allowed to use red diesel on public highways. Only purpose-built gritters had been allowed to run red diesel on public roads. However, due to local councils only being able to grit main roads, rural roads would remain unsafe to travel on.

So, in 2012 HMRC held a meeting where they decided to allow three categories of agricultural vehicles – tractors, light agricultural vehicles and agricultural material handlers – to use rebated fuel when gritting roads.

You can find more details on the website.

Can you use red diesel in a tractor which is gritting public roads?

Yes, HMRC decided to change Schedule 1 to the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979 (“HODA”) to allow agricultural vehicles (tractors) to use rebated fuel (“red diesel”) when gritting roads.

For more details, visit the HMRC website.

Can I use gas oil and white diesel in separate tanks on my tractor?

No, unfortunately, it’s illegal to have two different tanks which can connect to your engine and carry red diesel and white diesel or separate fuels.

Can you run backup generators on red diesel?

The rules surrounding red diesel use in backup generators have changed since April 2022 and commercial generators have lost access to rebated fuels as a result.

Red diesel is restricted to the following uses:

  • In vehicles and machinery used in agriculture, horticulture, fish farming and forestry, including allowing vehicles used for agriculture to be used for cutting verges and hedges, snow clearance and gritting roads
  • Propelling passenger, freight or maintenance vehicles designed to run on rail tracks
  • For heating and electricity generation in non-commercial premises, including heating homes and buildings such as places of worship, hospitals and townhalls; off-grid power generation; and non-propulsion uses on permanently-moored houseboats
  • Maintaining community amateur sports clubs and golf courses (including activities such as ground maintenance, heating and lighting of clubhouses, changing rooms etc.)
  • As fuel for all marine craft refuelling and operating in the UK (including fishing and water freight industries), except for propelling private pleasure craft in Northern Ireland
  • Powering machinery (including caravans) of travelling fairs and circuses
Will my boiler be able to burn red diesel to heat my home?

This depends on your furnace and the model of it. A rule of thumb is if your boiler is vertically conventionally fluid then you will be able to use gas oil to heat your home.

Can red diesel be used in a pleasure craft?

Yes, it can be used for heating and powering electricity on a pleasure craft. However, as of the 1st November 2008, the rules for using it for propulsion have changed, and the fuel is no longer eligible for a reduced rate of duty.

Red Diesel Pleasure Craft

You can find more details on the website.

How much is red diesel?

The price of red diesel changes every day due to a number of factors, including supply, demand, world events and politics. This means we can’t provide red diesel prices online. Your delivery location and required quantity also affect the cost of red diesel. The more fuel you order, the lower the price per litre.

Why is red diesel cheaper than white diesel?

Rebated fuel (red diesel) is cheaper than white diesel (DERV) because of a lower fuel tax duty required to pay on it.

The permitted uses for red diesel are now restricted to certain equipment used for:

  • Accepted purposes in agriculture, horticulture, fish farming and forestry
  • Rail transport
  • Fuel used for non-commercial purposes – heating and power generation
  • Community amateur sports clubs (CASC) and golf courses
  • Sailing, boating and marine transport (excluding private pleasure craft in Northern Ireland)
  • Travelling fairs and circuses

In order for these industries to make a profit, it is essential that certain duties can be reclaimed, and this includes red diesel fuel.

Where can I buy red diesel from?

As a reliable, long-standing red diesel provider, we’d be happy to supply you with red diesel! You can purchase red diesel from Crown Oil by calling 0330 123 1444 or filling out our online quote form.

Can you buy red diesel in barrels?

Yes, gas oil can be both purchased and stored in barrels. Also known as oil drums, they usually consist of a volume of 205 litres.

At Crown Oil, we supply in both 205-litre oil drums and tanker deliveries (min 500 litres).

Crown Oil Red Diesel Barrels
Where can I buy red diesel barrels?

If you use a small amount of red diesel or gas oil or don’t have an oil storage tank to store your fuels and oils, then buying barrels of red diesel could be a preferable option for you. Crown Oil supplies 205-litre oil drums of red diesel with national delivery and competitive prices.

Red Diesel Barrels
Can the red dye be removed?

Technically – Yes! Although the red dye can be removed from the fuel, doing so is an entirely illegal process. The intricacy of this process varies and using any method to remove the red dye is known as fuel laundering and can land you with a prison sentence.

Is there an alternative to red diesel?

Yes, Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) is a drop-in advanced renewable diesel that is commonly used in place of red diesel to reduce up to 90% of net CO2 emissions.

There is another alternative to red diesel, but for heating applications only, called Industrial heating oil and is a zero VAT fuel. This fuel can only be used in heating applications. Learn more about the benefits of switching from red diesel to industrial heating oil.

Does red diesel have any alternative names?

Yes, it is also known as gas oil, cherry juice, cherry red, agricultural diesel, 35 seconds, medium diesel, tractor diesel, marine diesel and rebated kerosene. All of these are the same fuel and have the same laws regarding their usage.

Is red diesel red?

Yes – it’s more than just a name – it’s a fact. For HMRC to test for the use of gas oil, they need to locate a marker dye within the fuel or tank using dip testing. The red colour is added to make it easily identifiable as red diesel.

What is blue diesel?

Blue diesel is no different than red diesel, apart from the colour. Other countries who dye their diesel blue instead of red are France, Estonia, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and many others.

What does the BS 2869 gas oil specification mean?

British Standard BS 2869 is the fuel specification that governs gas oil. There are two grades of red diesel within BS 2869 – Class A2 and Class D.

Additionally, there are other grades within BS 2869 for kerosene that is used as home heating oil, and other specifications for heavier fuel oils. Our fuel products specification guide has more information on the grades of BS 2869 available.

The fuel properties are seasonally adjusted to maintain good low-temperature operability.

It’s also worth noting that Gas Oil exceeds the latest requirements of relevant British Standard Specification BS 2869 Class A2.

What can I do with my unwanted/surplus fuel?

Removing any surplus/unwanted fuel from your tank can lead to potential risks to the environment should the containers not be ideal. Leaving red diesel which is no longer needed can also pose further potential hazards to people, buildings and the grounds on which it is stored.

Uplift Red Diesel

For these reasons, we invested in the facilities to come and collect your unwanted fuel and remove it safely from your tanks and site. Depending on its condition and quantity, you may even receive payment for the fuel. Find out more about fuel uplifts and transfers at our Crown Oil Environmental website.

FAQs About Red Diesel Duty Changes

From April 1st 2022 the rules around rebated red diesel duty and rebated biofuels have changed. We’ve created a red diesel duty changes explainer to navigate these new rules. We’ve also answered the most common questions our customers ask below:

If i’m not one of the exempt industries, will I be able to purchase red diesel from the 1st April 2022?

Unfortunately not, you will need to purchase white diesel or a cleaner alternative such as white HVO.

Can I stockpile my red diesel?

No, HMRC understands there may be a period of time where a red indicator maybe present in a machine or vehicles tank.

What do I do if I have rebated diesel fuel in my storage tank?

If you have any surplus fuel in your tanks after 31st March, you will need to either:

  • Sell or give to someone who is allowed to use it
  • Sell or give to any Registered Dealer in Controlled Oil (RDCO)
  • Dispose of it via an approved waste oil or recycling company

*Please keep records of any sales or disposal

I am a commercial business that is moving to white diesel for its machinery, will I need to flush out its tank?

No, the HMRC understands there may be a period of time where a red indicator maybe present in a machine or vehicles tank.

What records should I be keeping?

You should keep accurate records of all fuels you have purchased to demonstrate that you haven’t been stockpiling and that you have started the transition to non-rebated fuels.

What if I am found to have traces of marked diesel in my tanks/vehicles after the 1st April?

HMRC will take a pragmatic approach to all cases. As long as you have invoices/receipts to prove you have moved over to full duty fuel they will be more mindful of companies and individuals continuing to use red diesel illegally.

Do the tax changes affect HVO?

Yes the rules affect HVO in the same way as rebated fuels. If you’re still eligible to use red HVO, the duty remains at 11.14 and white HVO 57.95. If you’re no longer eligble to use red HVO, then you will need to switch to white HVO.

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