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


PANIC buyers are flocking to petrol stations across the UK to stock up on diesel and petrol.

But what is red diesel? Here’s all you need to know…

Red diesel is low cost and is taxed at a reduced rate.

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Red diesel is low cost and is taxed at a reduced rate.Credit: Alamy

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 a type of fuel that is low cost and is 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 is to prevent its misuse in road vehicles as it can be easily identified.

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 a type of fuel that is widely used to operate registered off-road vehicles and machinery.

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

However, it has the capacity to power any type of diesel powered engine.

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 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, the 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, or 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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