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Red Diesel (Gas Oil): The Rules & Regulations You Should Know

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If you plan on using red diesel (gas oil), you need to ensure you’re aware of the rules and regulations around its usage

The rules around using red diesel are strict, so before you go ahead and use the fuel, it’s always a good idea to double check your individual usage with HMRC.

Below is a guide to using red diesel to help make things a little clearer. If you’d like to speak with one of our team about using gas oil, please call us now on 0330 123 3773.

What is Red Diesel Fuel?

Red diesel (also known as gas oil, tractor diesel, cherry red, generator diesel and agricultural diesel) is a low-tax and therefore low-cost fuel that is widely used to operate registered off-road vehicles and machinery. It can also be used to heat homes.

Is Red Diesel Red?

Yes – as its name suggests, it contains a red dye with chemical markers in accordance with Customs and Excise requirements to enable HMRC or police officers to identify and quickly prosecute illegal usage. Upon testing, they must locate a marker dye or use dip testing.

Do You Need a Licence to Purchase Red Diesel?

No, you do not require a licence to purchase red diesel, however, you must sign an RDCO form upon purchase. Also, you must only buy gas oil from a company who is HMRC registered. Read more about this here.

Can Red Diesel be Used in Cars?

Red diesel fuel is no different than regular white diesel; it has the same properties so it can power all diesel-powered engines. However, if you use red diesel in a road vehicle on public roads, it’s considered tax evasion and you will be breaking the law.

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.

Will Red Diesel Damage My Car?

No, red diesel is exactly the same fuel as road diesel, except for the red dye added. All diesel-powered engines can use red diesel, except you will be breaking the law in some cases.

Can You Use Red Diesel in Tractors for Gritting Public Roads?

Since 2012, agricultural vehicles (tractors, light agricultural vehicles and agricultural material handlers) can use red diesel on public roads to grit small roads in order to ensure safe travel for local communities.

When Can I Use Red Diesel?

The rules on red diesel are quite broad and depend entirely on what you’re using it for. Here we give you a breakdown of the latest rules regarding red diesel usage.

What vehicles can use red diesel?

  • Tractors and light farming vehicles, for example, self-propelled cutters – providing they are merely used for gardening, agriculture or forestry purposes
  • Mowers
  • Gritters and automobiles used to clear snowfall
  • Road structure vehicles
  • Movable cranes and bulldozers
  • Construction vehicles, e.g. diggers, JCBs and tippers
  • Vehicles approved for partial use and which are merely used for farming, forestry or gardening purposes. These automobiles can likewise only be used on open roads amongst different parts of land utilised by the same individual. The distance must not surpass 1.5km
  • Work vehicles must obey the same guidelines as above, although the distance can’t exceed 1km

Why Does Red Diesel Cost Less Than Road Diesel?

Red diesel is a rebated fuel, which means it’s cheaper than road diesel (white diesel) as it has a significantly lower fuel tax levy required.

As red diesel is legal for use in the agricultural, marine and construction industries, this makes it the perfect fuel to power vehicles in industries that need low-cost fuel for work purposes.

Can Red Diesel be Traced?

Yes, the red dye is added to enable red diesel to be easily traceable for illegal use by police officers or HMRC.

I’ve Put Red Diesel in my Car by Accident, What Can I Do?

If you have put red diesel in a road vehicle by accident, then you should drain your tank off all the fuel as soon as you can. If you are unable to do this, then you should contact HMRC immediately and follow their instructions.

Are There Any Restrictions on Using Red Diesel for Agricultural Contractors?

You can use red diesel as long as you are using it exclusively for farming, horticultural or forestry work. The automobile must also be listed for agriculture use.

What’s the Fine for Using Red Diesel Illegally?

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.

Can Red Diesel be Used as Heating Oil?

Yes, red diesel is commonly used for heating applications. However, Speedy Flame Industrial Heating Oil will save you money when you switch from gas oil (red diesel) to our IHO.

Can Red Diesel be Used in Generators?

Red diesel is a popular fuel for use in backup generators as it’s a cost-effective way to provide power to a critical system.

Can Red Diesel Freeze?

When the temperature drops, diesel fuel gelling can occur as it contains wax paraffins which usually improve fuel lubrication and viscosity. When it gets too cold, paraffin wax thickens and turns cloudy which can eventually clog filters and cause the fuel to no longer flow, rending your fuel inoperable. Read more about this in our blog.

Can I Carry Two Separate Tanks so I Can Switch Between White & Red Diesel?

No, it is unlawful to transport two diesel cisterns that are equally able to be joined to the diesel engine.

How Much is Red Diesel Fuel?

Here at Speedy Fuels, we’re a family run business supplying red diesel to the building and farming industry. So if you’re looking for a consistent and expert company to cover your red diesel requirements, make certain we’re your main port of call. We provide competitive red diesel prices and nationwide deliveries to ensure you can keep your business running all year round.

If you would like to know a little more about using or buying red diesel then please give us a call now on 0330 123 3773.

Fuel Supplier

26 Responses to “Red Diesel (Gas Oil): The Rules & Regulations You Should Know”

  1. Ken Frith

    Hello….what are the rules regarding the vessel that can be used to fill with red diesel from a garage forecourt perspective….such as gallon cans, plastic containers sort of thing….thank you. Ken

    • Alan

      Hi ken, thanks for your question regarding suitable containers for carrying red diesel.
      The answer to your question is that special containers are produced to carry fuel products from a forecourt, as long as the container is ADR approved and has a UN number moulded onto the container.
      Example UN/3H1/Y1.9/200/14/D. which is a plastic 25-litre purpose built container designed to carry this type of product.
      If you require further information you can obtain this from the ADR information site. Under Chapter 6.1 requirements for the construction and testing of packaging’s.

  2. Nigel Smith

    Hi – Can owners of aircraft with diesel powered engines use red diesel?

    • Paul

      Hi Nigel, sure aircraft can use red diesel, but we would recommend kerosene which we also sell.

  3. Paul Smitherman

    hello team. Can you deliver close to rivers for motor boat use?

    • Alan

      Hi Paul, thank you for your question.

      Yes, we have a range of red diesel delivery tanker sizes which make it possible for us to access mooring areas. Although I must point out that red diesel cannot be used for propulsion. It can be used on boats for heating though!

      • Alex


        Just to correct the statement made above, concerning red diesel for marine propulsion.
        The vast majority of craft on the UK’s rivers and inland waterways use red diesel for both propulsion and heating supplied from a single tank aboard the boat.
        It is up to the owner to fill out a self-declaration form at the time of purchase to state the proportion of the fuel that will be used for each purpose. The supplier then uses this proportion expressed as a percentage to calculate the amount of duty to be added which is then passed on to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs by the supplier.
        Not all red diesel suppliers do this, I’m guessing Speedy Fuels is included in that list?

        More information here

        Hope that clarifies things.

  4. Ros Clements

    Can I use red diesel in a vehicle classified as agricultural use only to deliver farm produce to a) another farm or b) a stable yard outside of the 1.5 km limit?

    • Alan

      Hi Ros, thanks for your questions!

      I would advise that you speak with HMRC regarding both of these questions because my answer would be NO for both of these scenarios. However, with more details customs may be able to help you further and depending on the vehicle you are using you might be able to use red diesel for these tasks.

      A) Can I use red diesel in a vehicle classified as agricultural use only to deliver farm produce to another farm?

      No, I believe you can only use red diesel to transfer produce from a farm you own to another farm that you own.

      B) Can I use red diesel in a vehicle classified as agricultural use only to deliver farm produce to a stable yard outside of the 1.5 km limit?

      No, using red diesel to travel further than 1.5 km on public roads would not be allowed. A quote from HMRC states:

      In the case of vehicles nil-licensed for limited use between different parts of land, use of public roads is restricted to passing between different areas of land occupied by the same person where the distance travelled on public roads in passing between any two such areas does not exceed 1.5 kilometres.

      You can find out more details about red diesel usage here!

  5. Paul

    Hi there, if i have a diesel powered watercraft why can i not use red deisel in it as its not powered on land? And no one owns the ocean?

    • Alan

      Hi Paul, this is a separate issue for varied countries in the world but I’m sure that the waters around each country still have laws that apply to each. You can use red diesel for the heating element but the use for propulsion is illegal. Thanks for your question Paul!

  6. Bill Kavanagh

    Hi there, do MOD vehicles, use red deisel?

    • Alan

      Hi Bill, thanks for your question.

      Yes, the Ministry Of Defence do use red diesel for their vehicles.

  7. Peter


    Can you use red diesel to power generators… For catering vans etc… Since they aren’t actually moving or for driving a vehicle?

    • Alan

      Hi Peter, yes using red diesel for generators is absolutely fine! Thanks for your question!

  8. Michael

    Hello, I’m a farmer and so I use red diesel, but when I’m coming home from my field I have to travel over 5 miles, can I still use red diesel because it is in my tank or do vosa expect me to drain my tank in the middle of the field add add white diesel?


    • Alan

      Hi Michael, thank you for your question.

      It’s a good question and hopefully helpful to many other farmers and red diesel users. Each individual should check with HMRC regarding their own situation but, I believe that you will need to pay the difference between the full rate of duty on the fuel and the rebated rate actually paid on your red diesel. For more details please contact HMRC!

  9. Owain Morgans

    Hi. If I run a diesel generator to charge my electric car on red diesel, am I breaking the law?

    As a different version of this question, if the generator was mounted on the vehicle and charging the battery as I drive along, that be illegal?

    • Alain

      Hi there,

      Thanks for your query. If the diesel itself is only being used to power the generator then you SHOULD be okay, in terms of not breaking any laws. However, since the rules of using Red Diesel are quite strict, I would recommend double checking with the HMRC before its usage. You can also find our guide to Red Diesel rules here:

      Kind Regards

    • Anth

      The generator would only output around one to three kw’s so its unlikely you would generate enough electric to power the car for very long…a good question though!

  10. Steve

    Can we use red diesel in a tractor that pulls a mower to cut a rugby pitch. The tractor never goes on the public road?

    • Alain

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for your query! Yes – you are able to use red diesel in a tractor as long as it is not going to be used on a public road. Pulling the mower for a rugby pitch won’t be a problem!



  11. Rob

    I run a bus on private land. It runs on red diesel. However, I need to be able to blast it down th emotorway once a month to clear the emissions. How can I do this?

    • Eric Wood

      Hi Rob,

      Thank you for your comment. It would be illegal to drive your bus on the motorway if it has red diesel in the tank. If you wanted to clear the emissions from your vehicle using red diesel, you would have to drive it around your private land only. For more information, get in touch with HMRC.

  12. Rob

    Hi I just want to find out what the possible fine is if I drive I work van that has red diesel in it couldntou help please thank you

    • Eric Wood

      Hi Rob. Thanks for getting in touch. Driving a van on a public road with red diesel in the tank is a serious criminal offence. It can result in a substantial fine and your vehicle could be detained.


Comments are closed.

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