Red Diesel FAQ

Your questions about red diesel answered…

If you’re new to red diesel or you’ve been using it for some time and looking to learn more about it and the rules and regulations around using red diesel legally within the UK.

We’ve put together a list of the most frequently asked questions our team have answered over the years from our customers to help you to better understand more about red diesel fuel.

Of course, if your questions aren’t answered here or you’d like to to talk to our fuel experts to see how we can help you with your red diesel requirements. Give our team a call today on 01282 925041 to learn more.

  1. What is red diesel?
  2. Is red diesel red?
  3. Where can I buy red diesel?
  4. Does red diesel have any alternative names?
  5. Can the red dye be removed?
  6. Is red diesel (gas oil) illegal?
  7. What can you use red diesel (gas oil) for?
  8. Why is red diesel cheaper than white diesel?
  9. Can you use red diesel (gas oil) on the road?
  10. What is the fine for using red diesel illegally?
  11. Do you require a licence to buy red diesel (gas oil)?
  12. Which vehicles can use red diesel (gas oil)?
  13. Can you drive on the public roads using red diesel (gas oil)?
  14. Is using red diesel (gas oil) for gritting on public roads legal?
  15. What happens if I put red diesel (gas oil) in my car by accident?
  16. How does HMRC test for red diesel (gas oil)?
  17. What is the rate of VAT on red diesel (gas oil)?
  18. How do you reclaim the tax on red diesel (gas oil)?
  19. What is the price of red diesel (gas oil) in 2020?
  20. Can you buy red diesel (gas oil) in barrels?
  21. Can tractors use farm diesel on the road?
  22. What are the laws, regulations and rules regarding the storage of red diesel (gas oil) on a farm?
  23. Can I run my car on red diesel (gas oil) if I only use it on a farm?
  24. Can I use red diesel and white diesel in separate tanks on my tractor?
  25. Can you use red diesel (gas oil) in a boat?
  26. Can red diesel (gas oil) be used in a yacht?
  27. What can I do with my unwanted/surplus fuel?
  28. Can you run back-up generators on red diesel (gas oil)?
  29. Will my boiler be able to burn red diesel (gas oil) to heat my business?

What is red diesel?

Red diesel is a low duty fuel, meaning that it’s cheaper to buy than standard white diesel fuel bought from petrol filling stations. It’s most often used in off road vehicles, machinery and commercial heating systems.

Red diesel is the fuel that’s predominantly known for its use by industries such as farming and agriculture, construction and manufacturing, data centres and hospitals, to name but a few.

Is red diesel red?

Yes it is, t’s more than just a name. However, the red colour is added as a marker, rather than it being added as a performance enhancement.

Red diesel is effectively just white diesel, but with the addition of the red dye and chemical markers which are added to it, to help HMRC inspectors to more easily identify it when checking a vehicles fuel tank for signs of illegal usage.

Where can I buy red diesel?

You may come across people selling red diesel very cheaply, but you should be wary of filling your vehicles with these fuels as you cannot always be sure of their quality. The seller may also not be selling the fuel to you legally, which could cause you further problems with HMRC

Filling your vehicle or running your machinery on low quality fuels can cause problems and issues which could ultimately end up costing you much more in repairs.

Here at Cooke Fuels, we’ve been supplying red diesel for many years and have always ensured that we’re supplying only highest quality fuels. Our fuel provision services are second to none. With our vast network of red diesel depots strategically placed across the country, we can guarantee to get your fuel to you within 24-48 hours, or even sooner if you opt for our emergency delivery options.

If you’d like to call and discuss your red diesel requirements with our red diesel experts, give the team a call today on 01282 925041 to learn more.

red diesel faq

Does red diesel have any alternative names?

Red diesel has only been around in the form it is today since 1961 when the red dye chemical markers were added to it, leading it to be known as red diesel.

So, as well as being known as red diesel, it’s also widely known as gas oil too, but you may have also heard people refer to it as cherry red, agricultural diesel, cherry juice, 35 second oil, medium diesel, tractor diesel, digger fuel, marine diesel and generator diesel, to name but a few of the names.

Regardless of the names used, they all refer to the same fuel and as so, will have the same laws regarding their usage.

Can the red dye be removed?

We’ll start by saying that yes, it is possible to remove the red dye from red diesel. However, we also need to make it clear that this is highly illegal and not recommended.

Because red diesel isn’t taxed in the same way as regular diesel, removing the red dye and using it to power any vehicles on public roads is classed as fuel laundering.

If you’re caught with any sort of involvement in fuel laundering activities, be that selling red diesel for this purpose, removing the red dye or even buy and using the fuel. You are very likely to receive a hefty fine and potentially a prison sentence depending on your involvement.

Is red diesel (gas oil) illegal?

Red diesel, or rather, using red diesel isn’t illegal so long as you use it for the purposes outlined by HMRC. There are restrictions on its usage, so if you decide to flout these restrictions, then your usage of red diesel will be considered to be illegal.

Red diesel is a heavily rebated fuel made primarily by agricultural, industrial and similar industries in off-road vehicles and machinery. Using it in a road vehicles is considered tax evasion and anyone caught doing so will face fines and prosecution.

What can you use red diesel (gas oil) for?

Red diesel can be used in any diesel powered engines and machinery. It’s also often used in place of heating oil, but we do not recommend using it for burning in boilers and furnaces. A better option for heating purposes for industry is our furnace fuel of for domestic customers, kerosene.

It is legally designated for use in vehicles and machinery that don’t use public roads. It is heavily rebated in order to ease the financial burden of fuel cost for industries such as construction, agriculture and others.

Why is red diesel cheaper than white diesel?

The way they are taxed and the fuel duty on both types of fuel is different, leading to significant savings being made by those who can legally purchase and use red diesel.

Red diesel is heavily rebated in order to lessen financial pressure on industries vital to the UK’s infrastructure, such as construction, farming, agriculture, food manufacture and others.

For this reason, using red diesel on a public roads is limited to very few specialist activities such as gritting public roads, during the winter months and by landowners who are travelling no further than 1.5km between different sections of land they own.

For general usage, using red diesel on public roads is considered tax evasion and anyone caught doing so will be faced with fines and prosecution as a result.

Can you use red diesel (gas oil) on the road?

The answer to this is yes but in very limited circumstances. If you’re a landowner, you can use red diesel on public roads for travelling up to 1.5km between different sections of your land. However, travelling significantly further than this distance will increase the risk of being caught and prosecuted.

Gritters used to help clear snow, frost and ice from public roads can also use red diesel whilst carrying out their activities. A recent change to the law in the past few years has also meant that farmers are also allowed to use their tractors on public roads when gritting.

Previously, they would have had to empty and switch from red diesel to white diesel in their fuel tanks. This was an inconvenience for the vast majority of farmers, since the worst of the winter weather could not always be predicted, leading to delays in being able to get out and help to clear the roads in their communities.

red diesel

What is the fine for using red diesel (gas oil) illegally?

There is no fixed fine for illegal red diesel use, but as a minimum you can expect HMRC to charge you for the restoration of your vehicle’s system (including the cleaning of your tank and filters to remove the marker dye) and a fee for removal of the red diesel.

In some cases, you can also be charged for the difference you would have paid if white diesel had been used instead.

Learn more about the red diesel fines and penalties here.

Do you require a licence to buy red diesel (gas oil)?

A licence is not required to purchase this fuel, but you will need to sign an RDCO form to declare the fuel purchased won’t be used in contravention of the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979 or any amending legislation.

On the other hand, the company selling red diesel or any other controlled oils (rebated bio blend, kerosene and aviation turbine fuel) must be registered with HMRC. This is because it is the responsibility of the dealer of controlled oils to make sure the fuel is being used legitimately, and they may pass on transaction details to HMRC which can be further used by the Road Fuel Testing Units (RFTU).

Learn more about the RDCO scheme on the HMRC website.

Which vehicles can use red diesel (gas oil)?

Technically, any vehicle that operates on regular road diesel is capable of running on red diesel too. This includes cars, vans, trucks, tractors, diggers, cranes and more…

However, there are still going to be restrictions on where these vehicles are used, so simply knowing that your vehicle will operate on red diesel does not mean you should assume this means you can use it on public roads.

Can you drive on the public roads using red diesel (gas oil)?

There are limited circumstances in which you can use a vehicle running on red diesel. In most circumstances, using a vehicle with red diesel in the fuel tank on a public highway is considered tax evasion, since red diesel does not incur the same level of fuel duties as regular diesel.

However, there are exceptions to the restrictions set in place by HMRC. For instance, landowners and farmers who needs to gain access to a section of land which is divided by a public road, so long as the do not intend to travel further than 1.5km in doing so.

Is using red diesel (gas oil) for gritting on public roads legal?

Until a few years ago, agricultural vehicles (eg. tractors) were not allowed to use red diesel on public highways for travelling any further than 1.5km whilst travelling between their sections of land.

However, in order to make it easier to keep rural roads open and safe during the cold, winter months. Changes to the law were made in 2012 to allow tractors, light agricultural vehicles and agricultural material handlers to use rebated fuel when gritting roads.

Prior to this, HMRC expected farmers to empty their tanks of red diesel before re-filling them with regular white diesel to operate on the roads for the purpose of clearing the roads. However, this proved to be time consuming and not very easy giving the weather conditions when they were required to do this.

You can learn more about using tractors for gritting here.

What happens if I put red diesel (gas oil) in my car by accident?

What happens to your car, very much depends on what type of fuel your car was designed to run on. If it’s a petrol engine car and you have filled it with either red diesel or road diesel, you should follow the guidance on either the RAC website or on the AA website.

However, if your car is designed to run on diesel, then there is nothing to worry about in regards to causing damage to fuel tank or your engine. However, this does not mean that it’s going to be any less costly as a consequence (if you’re caught by HMRC).

If you intend to use the vehicle on public roads, you should drain the red diesel from the tank safely, ensuring the fuel is kept safe and secure and not allowed to leak.

Furthermore, since the red dye and chemical markers added to red diesel are highly detectable even in small amounts. It’s likely that your tank will retain traces of it for months to come. For this reason, it’s important for you to contact HMRC for further guidance, so they are aware of your mistake in case your vehicle is checked in the coming days or weeks.

How does HMRC test for red diesel (gas oil)?

In 2015, HMRC announced that they were switching from lab tests which lead to delays in their ability to catch motorists out who were illegally using red diesel, to road side testing units.

What this means is, it’s now far easier for HMRC’s Road Fuel Testing Units (RFTU) to test fuel samples at the roadside, with new chemical markers and machines capable of testing for chemical traces in fuel samples, without having to send away samples.

You can learn more about how HMRC test fuel here.

What is the rate of VAT on red diesel (gas oil)?

There are different rates of tax on gas oil, depending on how much you plan to purchase. For quantities up to 2300 litres in a single delivery, the tax rate is only 5%. For quantities over 2300 litres, the rate of VAT increases to 20%.

Owing to the fuel duty on the red diesel, it’s still cheaper to purchase than the regular white diesel that you use in your road vehicles, which is typically purchased from petrol filling stations.

How do you reclaim the tax on red diesel (gas oil)?

When purchasing this fuel 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 receive a repayment or apply for a tax rebate for your fuel, HMRC must first approve your claim. To apply for approval, you’ll need to fill in form HO27 and return it to HMRC.

Learn more about this on the HMRC website here.

What is the price of red diesel (gas oil) in 2020?

The price of red diesel in the first quarter of 2019 was much lower than it was in 2018. Today in 2020, the prices will often vary from day to day and week to week.

With recent stocks of oil increasing, the prices for gas oil have decreased. However, given the volatility of the oil market, it’s always better to get in touch with a supplier to find out the current price of red diesel.

If you’d like to find out from us, give our fuel experts a call today on 01282 925041 to get a quote based on today’s oil prices.

Can you buy red diesel (gas oil) in barrels?

Yes, gas oil can be both purchased and stored in barrels. Also known as oil drums, they are normally built to hold 205 litres.

At Cooke Fuels, we supply diesel in 205 litre barrels and tankers (min 500 litres through to 36,000 or more).

Can tractors use farm diesel on the road?

Tractors are permitted to use red diesel on the road only for purposes relating to agriculture, horticulture of forestry. This includes the permission to travel up to 1.5 kilometres on public roads if it is, for example, to get from one area of farmland to another.

Furthermore, if a tractor is being used to help grit roads in snowy / icy conditions, it is permitted to drive on a public road using red diesel.

For more information, read the legislation here.

What are the laws, regulations and rules regarding the storage of red diesel (gas oil) 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.

Can I run my car on red diesel (gas oil) if I only use it on a farm?

Yes, but it must be used exclusively on your private property for farming related activity. As soon as you drive on a public road, you’ll be breaking the law.

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

Unfortunately not. It is illegal to have two different tanks which can supply separate fuels to your engine.

Can you use red diesel (gas oil) in a boat?

Yes, it is possible to use red diesel on a boat, but it is only legal to use it to power its domestic facilities ie. heating, lighting, air condition and hot water.

It is legal to use it for propulsion too, but the full rate of fuel duty must be paid on this amount.

For more information, click here.

Can red diesel (gas oil) be used in a yacht?

Red diesel can be used in yachts for both propulsion and on-board power generation. However, yacht owners must pay the full rate of fuel duty on the amount of red diesel that is being used for propulsion.

It is the responsibility of yacht owners to declare the amount of fuel they will be using for propulsion to their supplier.

With a written declaration, they must outline the percentage of fuel that will be used to propel their craft and offer this to the supplier at the time of provision, so that the appropriate amount of duty can be added to their bill.

Failure to declare the use of marked red diesel as a propulsion fuel is considered tax evasion.

Bear in mind, these laws only apply to UK waters. Any pleasure crafts journeying beyond UK waters will be subject to the laws of the sovereign nation.

For more information, click here.

What can I do with my unwanted/surplus fuel?

It depends. If your unwanted fuel is in good condition, it is possible to have it professionally uplifted and sold back into the market.

However, if your unwanted supplies have degraded too severely for remediation, you’ll need to have your fuel professionally disposed.

At Cooke Fuels, we have the skills, facilities and accreditation to carry out all of these services. If you’ve got an unwanted supply and don’t know what to do with it, please get in touch.

Can you run back-up generators on red diesel (gas oil)?

Yes. As a backup generator makes no use of public roads, it is entirely permitted to use red diesel.

Will my boiler be able to burn red diesel (gas oil) to heat my business?

This depends on the model of your furnace. It is always best to get in touch with the manufacturer of your boiler to ensure it is able to burn red diesel safely.

However, we do not recommend the use of red diesel for heating purposes. If you’re planning on using red diesel to heat your home or business, we would recommend the use of home heating oil for homes and furnace fuel for businesses instead.

Order your red diesel fuel (gas oil) today…

Whether you still have questions that have not been aswered or you’re looking for a quote for your fuel requirements. Give our fuel experts a call today by calling us on 01282 925041 to get a quote and learn more about how we can help you.