What is Red Diesel / Gas Oil?

Red Diesel / Gas Oil is...

Red Diesel (also known as Gas Oil, 35 second burning oil, cherry fuel and tractor fuel), is low-tax alternative to regular automotive Diesel. In the UK it is widely used to power agricultural equipment, marine vehicles, off-road construction vehicles and oil-fired boilers.

Red Diesel has the same properties as regular 'white' Diesel, but is taxed at a much lower rate. This makes it perfect for powering vehicles in industries that require low-cost fuel for work purposes (e.g. farming, forestry and shipping).


As Red Diesel is taxed at a lower rate than regular Diesel, it is illegal to use it in on-road vehicles such as cars or motorbikes.

Why is Gas Oil Called Red Diesel?

The name 'Red Diesel' is taken from the reddy-pink colour of the oil. This is caused by a powdered dye which is added to the Diesel when it is processed, to help distinguish between low-tax Diesel and automotive Diesel.

As Red Diesel is typically much cheaper than automotive Diesel, it is often traded and used illegally. However, using Gas Oil for anything other than a designated work purpose can carry a hefty fine.

The red colour makes it easier for Customs officers or police officers to check for the presence of Red Diesel quickly during an investigation, so that they can prosecute any persons who are using it incorrectly.

Where Can Gas Oil be Used?

There are very strict rules surrounding the use of Red Diesel in the UK. Currently, Gas Oil can only be used in oil-fired boilers and by 'exempted' vehicles. This includes:

Unlicensed vehicles that are only ever driven on private land.

Licensed vehicles that have been registered with a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN), and are only ever driven on private land.

Agricultural vehicles, as long as they are being used for business purposes.

Snow clearing vehicles and gritters (including gritting activity by tractors, light agricultural vehicles and material handlers).

JCBs, excavators and cranes that are being used for construction purposes.

Commercial and leisure boats when used in UK waters ( although full tax must be paid on any fuel used to power the engine).

The rules regarding Red Diesel use are complex, so if in doubt, check the HMRC guidelines or contact our Customer Services team on 01480 775454 to discuss your requirements.

What are the Penalties for Using Red Diesel Illegally?

As Red Diesel is readily available in the UK, the police regularly carry out roadside checks on vehicles to identify people who are using it illegally. If you are found using Red Diesel in an on-road vehicle, your case will be handed to HMRC.

Depending on the charge, you may be issued a fine (this is usually a minimum of £500) and have your vehicle seized. In extreme cases, you could be charged with tax evasion and find yourself facing a prison sentence.

Buy Cheap Red Diesel from BoilerJuice

As the UK's leading online heating oil company, every week we provide thousands of litres of Red Diesel to commercial and domestic Gas Oil users across the country.

Every time you get a free, personal quote from BoilerJuice, we automatically compare prices from our database of trusted Red Diesel suppliers, and present you with the best price available for your area.


You'll always get our best price for your heating oil quote!

Want to see how much you could save?

Phone our Customer Services team on 01480 775454 or fill out our quote form to view instant online prices now!

BoilerJuice testimonials

Rated EXCELLENT based on 82,163 Trustpilot reviews BoilerJuice rated on TrustPilot

BoilerJuice is a wholly owned subsidiary of Welsummer Limited which is entirely independent of any heating oil company.

Registered Office: LDH House, St. Ives Business Park, Parsons Green, St. Ives, Cambridgeshire PE27 4AA. Registered in England (Company No: 5345637). © 2004-2022 BoilerJuice Ltd. All rights reserved.

Norton Secured powered by VeriSign