|HMRC Reference:Notice 75 (November 2013)||View Change History|
This notice cancels and replaces Notice 75 of July 2013.
It is about the fuel you can legally use in a road vehicle.
The main changes are in Section 8 which has been rewritten to reflect changes in the law on the use of red diesel, allowing certain agricultural vehicles to grit roads. Some of the wording in Sections 4, 5, and 6 have been amended to improve clarity.
Suppliers and users of rebated fuels and owners of ‘excepted vehicles’ (see paragraph 2.3) that are eligible to use these fuels.
Nothing in this notice modifies the law.
Apart from the circumstances described in this paragraph you must always use duty paid fuel.
Certain biodiesel and fuel substitute producers and users, who meet the definition of ‘exempt producers’, can use limited amounts of fuel which has not been duty paid. For more details see Section 4 of Notice 179E Biofuels and other fuel substitutes.
No. Rebated heavy oils include
It is illegal to use these oils (for example, gas oil or kerosene) as fuel in a road vehicle unless you get a licence from us to pay the difference between the full rate of duty on the fuel and the rebated rate actually paid on the fuel used. Section 6 explains how to do this.
Only vehicles which are specifically excluded from the legal definition of ’road vehicle’ may use rebated heavy oil as road fuel. These are known as 'excepted vehicles' and are listed in Section 8. Unless the vehicle is included in that section it counts as a ’road vehicle’ and must use fully duty paid fuel.
You can report details of misuse of rebated heavy oil by contacting the Customs Hotline in any of the following ways:
HM Revenue & Customs
The Excise duty on fully duty paid fuels is much higher than the rates on both gas oil (liable to a rebated rate of duty) and kerosene (liable to a nil rate of duty, also referred to as ‘fully rebated’). Both gas oil and kerosene contain chemical markers. Gas oil is also dyed red. Kerosene is dyed a pale yellow colour.
To assist identification by our officers if they are misused as fuel in road vehicles.
The law gives our road fuel testing officers the power to sample and test the fuel of vehicles. The powers are described in Section 7.
Yes, if one of our officers asks you to.
Yes, but you will be informed of the test in writing.
Make sure your drivers know that our officers may ask for a sample of the vehicle’s fuel.
It is your responsibility to provide a fuel sample or allow one to be obtained. You must make sure that the fuel in any tank on the vehicle is easily accessible, including the removal of any fitted anti theft devices.
Yes. HMRC will take action against those responsible for the presence of marked oils containing any UK or EU marker chemicals. These include:
In most circumstances you must get HMRC approval before you sell red diesel or kerosene.
Marked gas oil must be stored separately from unmarked oil. Any drum, storage tank or other container or any delivery pump or pipe must bear an indelible notice to the effect that where it contains, or is an outlet for, rebated oil, the oil is not to be used as road fuel.
If you supply marked gas oil or a quantity of marked kerosene exceeding 250 litres you must provide the recipient with a delivery note bearing a statement to the effect that the oil is not to be used as road fuel. If you supply kerosene for heating you should make it clear that the oil is not to be used to fuel any engine.
You need not use fully duty paid fuel for your separate machinery provided it has its own fuel supply and auxiliary engine separate from the vehicle’s fuel supply and engine. You must use fully duty paid fuel if the vehicle’s fuel supply or engine is used to operate the separate machinery. If your vehicle is allowed to run on rebated fuel because it is an excepted vehicle (see Section 8), any separate machinery can be similarly fuelled.
Yes, but only in fuel tanks not capable of connection to the engine used to propel the vehicle (unless it is an excepted vehicle). The standard running tank(s), whether connected or disconnected, must contain only fully duty paid fuel. Rebated gas oil must not be taken into the standard running tanks or auxiliary tanks fitted to vehicles or trailers except where these tanks are solely and permanently connected to the auxiliary machinery (for example, refrigeration motors). All other tanks on a vehicle, trailer or bulk carrier whether directly connected to the propelling engine or not, will be considered to be part of the road fuel system. Dual fuel systems are not permitted, even where they can connect to a power take off to switch the tanks.
You may be liable to -
civil penalties under Section 9 of the Finance Act 1994 or an Excise wrongdoing penalty under Schedule 41 of Finance Act 2008.
your vehicle (or engine) being seized and forfeited.
if your conduct involves dishonesty, a penalty of up to 100% of the duty evaded may be imposed.
an Excise wrongdoing penalty under Schedule 41 of Finance Act 2008.
the goods and oil may be seized and forfeited.
If you obstruct one of our officers inspecting premises or vehicles or testing or sampling oil.
an unlimited fine or imprisonment for up to two years, or both.
In the more serious cases involving dishonesty, criminal action may be taken, and the offender can be fined an unlimited amount or imprisoned for up to seven years, or both.
The Finance Act 1994 contains the appeal and review process for Excise decisions. It provides for procedures for challenging the following:
The procedures are different depending on what decision or decisions you are challenging. We will tell you what your rights are, when we issue the decision letter.
Challenging restoration decisions and linked decisions
If you are challenging:
or, if you are challenging:
you may request a formal Departmental review. Your request should set out the reasons for your disagreement and must be submitted in writing to your local Officer, within 45 days of our original written decision. If you disagree with the review decision you may appeal to the independent tribunal.
Challenging penalty decisions and assessments
If you are only challenging:
and you disagree with the decision; you may either accept the review offer or appeal to the independent tribunal. If you accept the review offer, but do not agree with the review conclusion you will still be able to appeal to the independent tribunal. More information on HMRC’s review and appeal procedures are available at www.hmrc.gov.uk.
The arrangements for challenging the actual seizure of goods liable for forfeiture (rather than HMRC’s decision about whether or not to return them to you) are different from the arrangements outlined at paragraph 5.2.
In such cases, if you disagree with our decision to seize your vehicle (or engine) you can appeal in writing to your local Officer within one month of the date of seizure. We must then bring civil (’condemnation’) proceedings in the courts to determine the matter, and you can challenge the seizure and forfeiture there.
It explains how, in exceptional circumstances, you can repay the rebate on rebated heavy oil and then legally use it as road fuel, or, if the oil is kerosene, as fuel to propel excepted vehicles or as fuel in the engine of a road vehicle.
Yes. You must have our licence, known as a ‘red diesel licence’ before you can pay the rebate on rebated heavy oil.
Red diesel licences are primarily designed for 'excepted vehicles' that normally do not travel on public roads at all. We give this authority only where a vehicle must occasionally use public roads in exceptional circumstances, where we accept it would be unnecessarily obstructive to require the user to take the necessary action to avoid using rebated heavy oil on the public road.
Any anticipated use of the public road must be a rare and very limited occurrence. Each application will be judged on its merit, but it is unlikely that we will authorise your application for a licence if you expect to use the public road regularly or as part of a routine.
We are also likely to refuse any applications in respect of vehicles that have no entitlement to use red diesel under any circumstances.
Mineral Oil Reliefs Centre (MORC)
Building 4, BP4002
Benton Park View
Newcastle upon Tyne
with details of:
If your application is successful we will send you a licence. Our Tax Accounting Centre at Cumbernauld will send you form’s HO72 Rebated Heavy Oil to be used as Fuel and HO73 Rebated Heavy Oil to be used as Fuel: supplementary estimate of volumes of fuel. You must complete the form HO72 and return it to the Tax Accounting Centre with the amount due before you use any rebated heavy oil as fuel.
Show the quantity (volume) of rebated heavy oil you estimate you will use as fuel in the first accounting period (follow the notes that accompany the form). Your licence will tell you which accounting periods apply to you. Send the form to the Accounting Centre and pay the duty due in advance of use.
If you intend to continue operating under the licence for second and later accounting periods, also send us a form HO72 before you continue using rebated heavy oil in the new periods.
On each form HO72 show the quantity of rebated heavy oil which you estimate you will use as fuel in that accounting period.
Normally, they are the quarters starting on 1 January, 1 April, 1 July and 1 October, but we may licence you to use an annual accounting period, starting on 1 January.
As soon as you have used the volume of oil paid for with form HO72, you must stop using rebated oil as fuel until you have completed form HO73. Show your supplementary estimate of the rebated heavy oil you will use as fuel in the accounting period and send the form to the Accounting Centre. You must pay this estimated duty before you use any more rebated oil.
If the change increases or decreases the amount of rebate due for a period, you must complete and send in a form HO74 Rebated Heavy Oil used as Fuel: Additional Rebate Payment Form [Event B(1),(2)&(3)]. If you have made payment with form HO72 in that period, Accounting Centre will send you a form HO74 on Budget Day and you must pay any extra duty due.
Our Accounting Centre will send you form HO75 Rebated Heavy Oil used as Fuel: Return of Rebate due (and paid). Complete it as explained in the notes on the form and return it to the Accounting Centre. We will send you a refund if appropriate.
The law requires you to keep a daily record of all the rebated heavy oil you use as road fuel. You must record the details on the same day as the fuel is used.
Show in the record the registration mark and number of every road vehicle using rebated heavy oil as fuel. Also show for each vehicle:
You must also keep a record of rebated kerosene used in an engine, or to propel an excepted vehicle, showing the same details as for road fuel. Record these details on the same day that you use the oil as fuel.
You must agree with our officer the permanent form of the records.
Yes. If one of our officers asks to see your records, they must be available at any reasonable time. This includes asking to see the licence to use rebated fuel issued by HMRC. We therefore recommend a copy of this licence is carried in all vehicles covered by it.
Either at the same place where your vehicles are kept or at any other premises agreed with our officer.
You must keep them for at least 12 months from the date of the last entry in them.
(referred to in paragraph 3.3).
Officers of HMRC are allowed by law to:
(referred to at paragraphs 2.3 and 4.2).
Certain categories of vehicle are excluded from the definition of road vehicles, and can therefore use rebated fuel. The different categories of excepted vehicle are explained in the following paragraphs. However, operators should keep abreast of changes to the rules because it is their responsibility to make sure that their vehicles use the appropriate fuel. HMRC therefore recommends that they make regular checks on the HMRC website which publishes details of alterations to the rules and updates to this notice.
A vehicle that is not used on the public road and has no licence under the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 is an excepted vehicle. If a vehicle has become untaxed since 31 January 1998 it requires a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN). Such vehicles will be eligible to use red diesel if a SORN declaration has been made. Unlicensed vehicles that do not require a SORN (including unregistered vehicles that have never used the public road) will continue to be able to use red diesel without a SORN declaration if kept off-road.
Under DVLA rules, a vehicle with a SORN declaration in place may only use the public road to except to and from a licensed station for a pre-arranged MOT, vehicle identity check, or weight or emissions test.
Unregistered or unlicensed vehicles are not permitted to run on public roads unless they are travelling to and from a pre-arranged mandatory Department for Transport (DfT) test or re-test. HMRC will take action if such a vehicle is found on public roads using red diesel at any other time. Other offences beyond the scope of HMRC responsibility may also be committed if such a vehicle runs on public roads, even if road fuel (‘white diesel’) is being used.
To qualify as an excepted vehicle, the tractor must be an agricultural tractor designed and constructed primarily for use otherwise than on roads. It must not be used on public roads except for:
(a) purposes relating to agriculture, horticulture or forestry
(b) cutting verges bordering public roads
(c) cutting hedges or trees bordering public roads or bordering verges which border public roads
(d) from 01 November 2013, gritting of roads, including travel to and from where gritting takes place, and for the collection of equipment and material for gritting.
See paragraph 8.21 for what we mean by activities falling within agriculture, horticulture or forestry.
If a tractor has a vehicle Excise licence as a general haulage vehicle it cannot use red diesel as a fuel either on or off public roads, regardless of whether it is undertaking agricultural, horticultural or forestry work. This is because it is licensed to perform other work and is therefore assumed to exceed the permitted activities listed above.
To qualify under this category the vehicle must:
(a) have a revenue weight not exceeding 1,000 kilograms
(b) be designed and constructed so as to seat only the driver
(c) be designed and constructed primarily for use otherwise than on roads, and
(d) be used only for purposes relating to agriculture, horticulture forestry or for gritting roads
The revenue weight of a vehicle is either the maximum weight of the vehicle or the design weight as defined in section 60A of the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994.
Quad bikes and similar single-seater machines used for agricultural, horticultural or forestry work fit into this category.
To qualify as an agricultural material handler, the vehicle must be designed to lift goods or burden and be designed and constructed primarily for use otherwise than on roads.
Agricultural material handlers must not be used on public roads except for:
(a) agricultural, horticultural or forestry work
(b) cutting verges bordering public roads
(c) cutting hedges or trees bordering public roads or bordering verges which border public roads, or
(d) from 01 November 2013 gritting of roads, including travel to and from where gritting takes place and for the collection of equipment and material for gritting.
This category is restricted to purpose-built vehicles that:
(a) are designed and used solely for purposes relating to agriculture, horticulture or forestry
(b) are used on public roads only for proceeding to and from the place where the vehicle is to be or has been used for those purposes, and
(c) when so proceeding do not carry any load except such as is necessary for its propulsion or for the operation of any machinery built-in or permanently attached to the vehicle.
This category includes but is not limited to combine harvesters, crop sprayers, forage harvesters and pea viners.
These are specialist agricultural vehicles that:
(a) are used for the conveyance of built-in machinery for processing agricultural, horticultural or forestry produce that is used while the vehicle is stationary
(b) are used on public roads only for proceeding to and from the place where that machinery is to be used, and
(c) when so proceeding do not carry any load except such as is necessary for their propulsion or for the operation of the processing machinery.
This category includes mobile seed cleaning machines or feed milling machines.
A vehicle in this category must:
(a) be used only for purposes relating to agriculture, horticulture or forestry
(b) be used on public roads only in passing between different areas of land occupied by the same person
(c) not travel a distance on public roads in passing between two such areas that exceeds 1.5 kilometres, and
(d) have a nil licence (as defined in Section 62 of the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994) in force in respect.
The mowing machine must be a complete vehicle, whether pedestrian-operated or ‘ride-on’. The machinery must be built into the vehicle for it to qualify under this category.
A vehicle is an excepted vehicle when it is being used to clear snow from public roads by means of a snow plough or similar device (whether or not forming part of the vehicle) or when it is travelling to or from the place where it is to be or has been used for that purpose.
A vehicle in this category must be constructed or adapted, and used, solely for the conveyance of machinery for spreading material on roads to deal with frost, ice or snow (with or without articles or material used for the purposes of the machinery).
Many of these vehicles are converted HGVs that are used as gritters in the winter months. If the gritting equipment is fitted in a workshop and is attached for the duration of the winter the vehicle is deemed to meet the requirements of the law despite the fact that the legislation states that it should be used ‘solely’ for gritting.
The following do not qualify in this category:
Some agricultural vehicles may use red diesel when gritting roads. See paragraphs 8.3, 8.4 and 8.5.
A vehicle in this category must be designed and constructed as a mobile crane which:
(a) is used on public roads only as a crane in connection with work carried on at a site in the immediate vicinity of where it is being used or for the purpose of proceeding to and from the place where it is to be used
(b) when so proceeding does not carry any load except such as is necessary for its propulsion or the operation of built-in lifting apparatus, and
(c) has a revenue weight exceeding 3,500 kilograms.
The category does not include load carrying vehicles such as vans with access platforms.
Where a mobile crane is dependent on another vehicle only for transport to and from the place where it will be used, whether carried or trailer-mounted, the crane itself may use red diesel, but the carrier or towing vehicle has no red diesel entitlement.
A vehicle in this category is one which:
(a) is constructed or adapted for use and used for the conveyance of a pump and jib,
(b) is used on public roads only when the vehicle is stationary and the pump is being used to pump material from a point in the immediate vicinity to another such point or when proceeding to or from a place where the pump is to be or has been used, and
(c) when so proceeding does not carry the material that is to be or has been pumped or any other load except such as is necessary for the propulsion or equipment of the vehicle or for the operation of the pump.
The pump and jib must be built in as part of the vehicle. The material pumped must be delivered to a desired height or depth through piping that is attached to the pump and jib and is raised or lowered to that height or depth by operation of the jib.
Vehicles without boom-mounted pumps such as mobile batching plants are not in this category nor are load carrying vehicles fitted with boom-mounted pumps, such as gully-suckers.
To qualify in this category the vehicle must be designed, constructed and used for the purpose of trench digging or any kind of excavating or shovelling work. It must only use the public road for that purpose or for the purpose of proceeding to and from the place where the vehicle is to be or has been used for that purpose. When so proceeding it must not carry any load except such as is necessary for its propulsion or equipment.
Digging machines may include earth scraping machines, mobile drilling rigs and road planing or abrading machines used to remove the road surface. A tractor mounting a permanently-attached front shovel may also be classed as a digging machine. Shot–blasting vehicles used to remove paint or other material from the surfaces of bridges, girders and the like do not qualify.
Where digging machines or drilling rigs are transported on another vehicle, the combination of digging equipment and transport would qualify in the digging machine category only where the transporting vehicle was designed and constructed solely to accommodate and facilitate the operation of the specific digging or drilling unit.
To meet this requirement, the transporting vehicle must have purpose-built provision for loading and unloading the specific unit, have any necessary ancillary equipment permanently fitted, have no additional load carrying capacity, and must necessarily remain connected to the unit while it is in use. Vehicles adapted for the purpose of transporting a digging machine or drilling unit do not qualify.
Where a digging machine or drilling unit is dependent on another vehicle only for transport to and from the place where it will be used, whether carried or trailer-mounted, the digging equipment itself may use red diesel, but the carrier or towing vehicle has no red diesel entitlement.
To qualify as a works truck the vehicle must be a goods vehicle designed for use in private premises. It must only be used on public roads:
(a) for carrying goods between private premises and a vehicle on a road within one kilometre of those premises
(b) in passing from one part of private premises to another
(c) in passing between private premises and other private premises in a case where the premises are within one kilometre of each other, or
(d) in connection with road works at the site of the works or within one kilometre of the site of the works.
In the context of this category a goods vehicle is a vehicle constructed or adapted for use and used for the conveyance of goods or burden of any description (whether in the course of trade or not).
Typical works trucks include fork lift trucks, ‘shunt’ vehicles designed to haul articulated trailers and their goods around sites and special vehicles which lift and move freight containers around sites. Typically, the vehicle will have a maximum speed well below road traffic speeds of 30 mph+ and will lack many of the features, such as braking and lighting systems, required under the Road Traffic Act 1988.
A tractor towing a trailer is not a works truck.
Self-propelled vehicles with one, two or three drums and walk-behind rollers qualify in this category.
A vehicle in this category is one which:
(a) is designed and constructed to perform an operation necessary to construct or restore the surface of a road
(b) does not carry any load on a public road except as is necessary for its propulsion or for the operation of any machinery built-in or permanently attached to the vehicle, and
(c) has a maximum speed not exceeding 20 kilometres per hour.
Vehicles such as asphalt pavers qualify in this category.
To qualify in this category, the tar sprayer must be constructed or permanently adapted, and used solely for spraying tar on to the road or for proceeding to and from the place where it is to be or has been used for that purpose.
Hot boxes used to transport and maintain tar at a desired temperature do not qualify in this or any other category.
A public road is one which is maintainable at the public expense.
HMRC applies the following definitions of agriculture, horticulture and forestry:
Agriculture - the science and art of cultivating the soil, growing and gathering in crops, and rearing of livestock.
Horticulture - the science and art of cultivating or managing gardens, including the growing of flowers, fruits and vegetables.
Forestry - the science and art of forming and cultivating forests and the Management of growing timber.
When it changed the rules on red diesel entitlement in January 2007, the government commissioned HMRC and industry representatives to jointly establish and publish a code of practice defining purposes relating to agriculture, horticulture or forestry. This led to the publication on 10 January 2008 of the Memorandum of Agreement in respect of the use of agricultural vehicles on the road, signed by HMRC, DVLA, the National Farmers Union, the National Association of Agricultural Contractors, and the Confederation of Forest Industries. The Memorandum is reproduced at Section 10.
Government tax imposed on products such as hydrocarbon oil.
A vehicle eligible to use rebated fuel - listed in Section 8.
A heavy oil which carries a lower (rebated) rate of duty. It is also commonly known as ’red’, ’red diesel’ (because of the red dye) or ’marine gas oil’.
Oils such as aviation kerosene, fuel oil, gas oil, kerosene, SFD and ULSD. By definition any oil which does not meet the criteria for classification as a light oil. The criteria are based on boiling point, and the temperature at which vapours are given off.
A heavy oil also known as burning oil or paraffin. Kerosene carries a nil rate of duty (fully rebated) when used as a heating fuel.
A chemical added to oil to indicate Excise duty at rebated rate has been paid, and consequently that oil is not to be used as fuel for road vehicles. A dye is usually used with the marker so that rebated oil can be easily identified. The current gas oil dye is a red colour.
Roads maintainable at public expense.
A licence to use rebated heavy oil as road fuel, issued by HMRC.
Rebated heavy oils
Usually gas oil or kerosene. These are heavy oils that carry a lower rate of duty than that for fully duty paid fuel such as SFD, ULSD, gasoline, liquid petroleum gas (LPG) or compressed natural gas (CNG). There are restrictions on how rebated heavy oils can be used.
Sulphur Free Diesel (SFD)
A more environmentally-friendly fuel than earlier types of diesel, with a maximum sulphur content of 10 parts per million.
Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel (ULSD)
A more environmentally-friendly fuel than earlier types of diesel, with a maximum sulphur content of 50 parts per million.
The vehicle Excise licence - sometimes called a ‘tax disc’ or ‘road fund’ licence - issued under the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) or its agents.
In consideration of the need for clearly understood and easily applied guidelines on the use of agricultural vehicles on road, and the need for these guidelines to respect the intent of the law whilst minimising regulatory burdens on the agricultural, horticultural and forestry industries, the following Government departments and agencies and industry associations have reached a common position on how legislation shall be interpreted and applied:
HM Revenue & Customs
Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency
National Farmers Union
National Association of Agricultural Contractors
Confederation of Forest Industries
The purpose of this Memorandum of Agreement is to provide guidance to those engaged in agriculture, horticulture and forestry, and to agencies enforcing compliance with the legislation. Where disputes arise these will continue to be considered on an individual basis with regard to the relevant legislation and any definitive interpretation of the law would remain to be given by the courts.
This memorandum of agreement is restricted to the use of agricultural vehicles by the occupier of the land or the owner of the crop, or to a contractor or other person engaged to perform an agricultural, horticultural or forestry operation on the land.
The agreement applies to the following types of vehicle:
Definitions of these vehicles, for hydrocarbon oils duty purposes, can be found in Schedule 1 to the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979, as amended.
Definitions of agricultural vehicles, for vehicle Excise duty purposes, can be found in Schedule 2 to the Vehicle Excise Registration Act 1994, as amended.
Vehicles covered by this agreement are:
when used on public roads solely for purposes relating to agriculture, horticulture or forestry.
Other classes of vehicles that are exempt from VED or entitled to use red diesel are not covered by this agreement.
In the case of agricultural engines use of red diesel is restricted to proceeding to and from a place where the vehicle is to be used or has been used for these purposes. When so proceeding the vehicle may not carry any load except such as is necessary for its propulsion or the operation of any machinery that is built-in or permanently attached. Examples of acceptable loads that can be hauled by agricultural engines include the header of a combine harvester or a bowser for a crop sprayer.
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.
In addition to use for purposes relating to agriculture, horticulture or forestry, agricultural tractors and agricultural material handlers may also be used for:
(a) cutting verges bordering public roads
(b) cutting trees or hedges bordering public roads or bordering verges which border public roads.
Activities accepted as falling within the definition of agriculture, horticulture or forestry include the:
Activities not accepted as falling within the definition of agriculture, horticulture or forestry include:
Subject to restrictions in the definition of the particular type of vehicle, agricultural vehicles may use red diesel on public roads and will maintain exemption from vehicle Excise duty in the following circumstances.
Movement of machinery by dealers and others not engaged in agriculture, horticulture or forestry is not covered by this agreement.
The transportation of produce must be incidental to an agricultural, horticultural or forestry operation being performed on the land. The onus is on the person transporting the load to demonstrate that this is the case. Transportation of produce which requires an Operator’s Licence may not be accepted as being incidental.
Transportation on public roads of produce or livestock by a contractor employed solely for that purpose is not included within this agreement.
Collection of inputs and equipment to be used as part of an agricultural, horticultural or forestry operation, and transport within or between different areas of land occupied by the same person of inputs and equipment to be used as part of an agricultural, horticultural or forestry operation.
This does not include:
When can I use red diesel in my tractor?
You can use red diesel in your tractor for any activity, if it does not involve going on the public road.
If you do take your tractor on the public road, you can use red diesel so long as the tractor is designed and constructed for off-road use and you take it on the road only for:
(a) purposes relating to agriculture, horticulture or forestry;
(b) cutting verges bordering public roads;
(c) cutting hedges or trees bordering public roads or bordering verges which border public roads
(d) gritting roads.
What are ‘purposes relating to agriculture’?
In our view, agriculture is the growing and harvesting of crops, and the rearing of animals for the production of food, wool, leather, fur or other substances. The keeping or breeding of animals for leisure (breeding dogs or racehorses for example) is not agriculture. The growing of plants for other reasons is not agriculture, but will sometimes be horticulture - see question 4. Using a tractor for ‘purposes relating to agriculture’ includes using it to:
What are purposes relating to horticulture?
In our view, horticulture is the cultivation and management of gardens (including vegetable plots, allotments and market gardens, but also flowerbeds , trees, shrubberies and ornamental lawns in public parks). By cultivation and management, we mean growing and tending flowers, lawns, shrubs and trees, and harvesting flowers, fruits and vegetables for food (or animal fodder) and for ornament, as well as treating and enriching the soil and controlling weeds and pests. However, we do not regard as horticulture the landscaping and maintenance of grassy recreational areas, such as playing fields and golf courses, or the grassed areas of parks that are made available for walks, picnics and general recreation. Using a tractor for purposes relating to horticulture includes using it to:
What are purposes relating to forestry?
In our view, forestry is the upkeep and management of forests including the growing and harvesting of timber and other forestry products. Using a tractor for purposes relating to forestry includes using it to:
Agriculture - what if it is not my farm?
If you have been contracted to carry out agricultural work at a farm, and use red diesel in your tractor to travel to and from the farm, that is permitted so long as you are going to use your tractor for that work or are using it to carry the materials or equipment that you will need there or to remove any produce or waste resulting from your work. You can also use red diesel when you go home or return to your premises at the end of your day’s work. If you do not work on the farm, and you are not going there to carry out agricultural work, you cannot use red diesel.
So, for example, you cannot use red diesel:
On the other hand, if you have been engaged by the farmer to carry out an agricultural processing operation (for example to slaughter animals) you may use red diesel both to collect the material to be processed and to return the finished product to the farmer.
I am going to use my tractor to remove or collect waste material resulting from non-agricultural activities and deliver it for agricultural use on a farm. Can I use red diesel on the public road?
If you are collecting and delivering the waste for agricultural use on your own farm, or the farm on which you work, you may use red diesel. You may only deliver waste materials to another farm if they are purely for use in agricultural work that you will be carrying out there. You may not use red diesel if you were involved in producing the waste material.
I have been engaged by the forestry commission to clear felled timber following a forestry operation along forestry roads. I will be using my tractor. Can I use red diesel on the public road?
Yes, we consider that to be harvesting the timber and therefore related to forestry.
I have been using my tractor to cut hedges and trim verges bordering the public road. Can I continue using red diesel to remove the trimmings and cuttings?
Yes, we regard that as part of the cutting and trimming activities.
I have a gardening business. I use my tractor to cut and treat the grass, get rid of weeds, cut hedges and perform tree surgery. I take my tractor on the public road to travel to and from where it will be used and I also go on the public road to reach the outer parts of the trees and hedges. Can I use red diesel on the public road?
Yes, cultivating and managing gardens is horticulture and so your tractor would be on the public road for a purpose relating to horticulture.
I use my tractor for maintaining the grass on sports fields and recreational areas. Can I use red diesel when travelling to and from my work on the public road?
No, in our view, the preparation and maintenance of grassed areas intended for sport and recreational use is not horticulture.
I have a self-propelled mower that I use for cutting grass on sports and playing fields. Can I use red diesel to go there on the public road?
Yes, mowing machines may use red diesel at all times.
I use my tractor to keep the trees and vegetation under control in a piece of wasteland. Can I use red diesel when I go there on the public road?
No, that would not be agriculture, horticulture or forestry.
I run a horse riding stables/livery yard. I use a tractor to move straw and manure in and out of the premises. Can I use red diesel on the public road?
No. The keeping of animals for sport and recreation is not agriculture.
I use an agricultural tractor for ditch clearing and drainage work. Can I use red diesel on the public road?
Yes, but only if the work is for the benefit of land used for agriculture, horticulture or forestry.
I use my tractor to build flood defences. Can I use red diesel on the public road?
No, flood protection is not one of the activities for which red diesel is permitted.
I use my tractor to spread grit on the public road to deal with snow and ice. Can I use red diesel?
Yes, you can. You can also use red diesel to travel to and from the site of the gritting and to collect and return gritting equipment and material.
I use my 4 x4 for transporting fertilizer on my farm. I only take it on the public road for short distances between different parts of my farm. Can I use red diesel on the public road?
Yes, so long as each journey does not exceed 1.5 kilometres and your vehicle has a ‘nil licence’ and is licensed by the DVLA for use between different parts of land.
I use my 4 x 4solely for agricultural purposes. I use it on my farm but also at my neighbour’s farm across the (public) road. Can I use red diesel?
No, the exemption for use on the public road between different parts of land applies only if the different parts are occupied by the same person.
I have a mobile seed (or feed) processor which has built-in processing machinery. Can I use red diesel when I take it on the public road?
Yes, ‘agricultural processing vehicles’ may use red diesel providing they do not carry any load except what is needed for propulsion or for the operation of the processing machinery.
Can I fit extra tanks to my tractor to allow it to run on white diesel on the public highway?
No. Dual tank systems that can switch from a red diesel to a white diesel tank are not permitted.
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If you have any comments or suggestions to make about this notice, please write to:
HM Revenue & Customs
Excise Oils Policy
Ralli Quays West
3 Stanley Street
Please note this address is not for general enquiries.
For your general enquiries please phone our Helpline 0300 200 3700.
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