Using red diesel for boats in line with British regulations

Using red diesel for boats in line with British regulations

When powering your boat, the choice of fuel can be an important consideration. Whether your boat is for personal or commercial use, you will need to make sure that you are using the right type of fuel to meet your requirements, and to stay in line with regulations. Red diesel is a type of fuel that is available for use for boats, and has a reduced tax rate, which makes this very appealing. However, there are a number of considerations to bear in mind for using red diesel for boats in line with British regulations.

What are the considerations for using red diesel for boats in line with British regulations?

Red diesel is used across the UK in a wide range of industries, including fishing, agriculture, and transportation. However, the use of this is strictly governed by the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979. Under this act, red diesel is a marked gas oil and as such, has a reduced rate of tax because it is designated for non-road use. As part of the non-road use, red diesel can be used legally for maritime transport, as the reduced tax rate is intended to support industries such as fishing, agriculture, and transportation. But how can red diesel be used for boats, in line with the regulations and standards? Well, there are several factors to consider, including:

  • Restrictions for use
  • Private and commercial use
  • Penalties

Restrictions for use of red diesel in boats

While boat owners are allowed to use red diesel, there are restrictions on when this fuel can be used. The law stipulates that red diesel can only be used for fueling a private boat if the vessel is being used solely for navigation or recreational purposes, and not for commercial activities. In addition, red diesel cannot be used for additional purposes such as heating. This means that boat owners must ensure that the fuel is solely used to power the movement of the boat during recreational trips, and not for commercial use. 

Private and commercial use

There is a challenge for this regulation to be enforced, as it can be difficult to distinguish between the private and commercial use of red diesel. To make sure that your boat follows the regulations effectively, an additional tank can be used for heating purposes, which clearly shows your compliance with the regulations. This also prevents the red diesel being used accidentally for non-navigational purposes.


There are strict and significant penalties for non-compliance with red diesel regulations. These include fines and even the potential seizure of the vessel. It is therefore crucial for boat owners to be aware of and adhere to the regulations governing the use of red diesel. Many marinas and fuel suppliers provide clear guidelines to help boat owners understand their obligations and responsibilities in this regard.

Here at Compass Fuel Oils, we are the UK’s leading provider of fuel oils like red diesel and AdBlue, as well as home heating oil. For more information about delivery within 1-3 days, barrel deliveries, or installing fuel monitors, get in touch with the leading experts today!