What is red diesel and can I get fined for using it?

WITH a lower tax rate and reduced price, it sounds like the holy grail of petrol.

But what is red diesel and can you use it to drive on the road? Here's all you need to know…

What is red diesel? 

Red diesel is the term used for gas oil that is intended for use other than as fuel in road vehicles.

It is lower in cost and taxed at a reduced rate.

It gets its name because since 1961 it has been a requirement that it must be marked with a red dye as well as chemical markers

This renders it easily identifiable in order to prevent its use in cars.

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You don’t need a licence to purchase red diesel, however, you must sign a form upon purchase. 

What is red diesel used for? 

Red diesel is widely used to operate registered off-road vehicles and machinery.

It can power any type of diesel engine.

It can also be used to heat homes but is not as efficient as industrial heating oil.

Can I get fined for using it? 

Yes, you can be fined for using red diesel in a vehicle on a public road because it is considered fuel tax evasion.

An exception to this is for farmers. They can travel up to 1.5km using red diesel in a car to access land on the public highway.

There isn’t a fixed fine, but if you’re found using it illegally, HMRC will charge you for the restoration of your vehicle’s system to clean your tank and filters to remove the marker dye. 

You will be charged a fee for its removal.

Your car can be detained.

You can even be back charged for the difference in cost between red diesel and road diesel over the time you’ve been using it.

Why is red diesel illegal?

Red diesel is illegal because it has a lower fuel duty applied to it – but is not designated to be used on public roads.

Therefore, using red diesel on a public road is considered tax evasion which means it is illegal.

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