If you're planning to sail to the Continent this season, the regulations covering the use of red diesel by leisure craft have not changed and you may still risk heavy fines from the Belgian authorities if found with red diesel in your fuel tanks.

Whilst it is still legal to purchase red diesel for use in pleasure craft in the UK, this is not the case in most other EU countries.

The onus is on the vessel's owner to prove that the fuel was bought legally in the UK and with the summer cruising season fast-approaching, recreational boaters are reminded to heed the following advice:

  • Keep receipts for diesel purchased in the UK, to prove that it was bought in the UK, and request that your retailer marks them "duty paid" 
  • Log the date of refuelling and engine hours to reinforce these records
  • Do not carry red diesel anywhere other than in their craft's main fuel storage tanks
  • Do not purchase red diesel in a country where the purchasing of rebated fuel by leisure craft is prohibited by law

Both the French and Dutch authorities have confirmed that visiting craft can have red diesel in their tanks if bought legally in the UK.

In 2010 and 2011, boating in Belgian waters with marked 'red' diesel in your fuel tanks put you at risk of receiving a significant fine. Since then the Belgian Authorities appeared to have become more tolerant of UK boaters using red diesel and the risk of being fined seemed to have reduced.

However, we recently received a report that suggests the stance of the Belgian Authorities may be hardening and the risk of being fined for boating in Belgian waters with marked red diesel in your fuel tanks may therefore be increasing.

The RYA represents the interests a wide range of leisure boating activity. Our aim is to ensure that legislators, regulators and other authorities understand, and take account of, our recreational boating activity. By lobbying to retain the lawful use of red diesel by UK boaters, either here in the UK or in Europe, we aim to:

  • ensure continuity of supply for UK boaters in the more remote parts of the UK
  • ensure continuity of supply for UK boaters on the inland waterways
  • ensure lawful use of duty paid marked diesel for UK boaters in Europe

Read more about cruising abroad and advice on red diesel.

Country-specific information is also available exclusively to RYA members.

Still have more questions? RYA Members can also contact the RYA Cruising Team at cruising@rya.org.uk or call 023 8060 4232 for up-to-date advice.