Can Tractors Use Red Diesel On The Road?

Because red diesel is chemically identical to any other fuel, you can use it in your truck, as a heating fuel, and as a generator fuel. This product, on the other hand, is allocated for agricultural and construction equipment, as well as other off-road applications.

Can tractors run red diesel on the road?

A. Only exempt vehicles are allowed to use red diesel on the road. Exempt vehicles are just those that are utilized for forestry or farming purposes. The following cars may be eligible for exemption:

  • Tractors – Tractors are authorized to use red diesel to help with road gritting. Tractors, on the other hand, can use red diesel to chop plants and hedges on public highways.
  • Light Agricultural Vehicles (LAVs) – These are vehicles that weigh less than 1000 kg and only have room for one driver.
  • When moving from one area to another, a bulldozer or a crane may utilize red diesel as long as they are not hauling any superfluous burdens.

Can farmers use red diesel on the road?

The use of red diesel is frequently referred to as a grey area in farming circles, but the laws are actually quite clear, and the Memorandum of Agreement in HMRC’s Notice 75 on the website makes it extremely difficult to say otherwise.

Agriculture contributes for roughly 7% of total rebated fuel consumption in the UK, with major tax benefits for the agricultural business, and it is critical that the industry follows the guidelines scrupulously to help ensure future use of the fuel.

A general guideline is that any usage of red diesel on the road must be part of an agricultural, horticultural, or forestry enterprise, and it cannot just be for haulage.

Also, if you use the vehicle on public roads for both agricultural and non-agricultural purposes, it no longer qualifies as an agricultural vehicle “excepted vehicle” that must always be fueled with white fuel.

To assist explain many of the common grey areas, the following questions will focus on where utilizing red diesel for farming activities is authorized.

These questions should be read in combination with HMRC Notice 75, which explains what qualifies as a deduction “What qualifies as “agricultural use” and what sorts of agricultural vehicles do.

How far can I travel using red diesel?

The use of red diesel in agricultural vehicles engaged in agricultural work has no distance restrictions. If you’re transporting product, you’ll need to figure out if you’ll require an operator’s license if you’re going more than 15 miles from your base.

I am a contractor, travelling to farms to carry out cultivations work, including ploughing, harrowing and drilling. Can I travel to and from the farms on red?

Contractors are permitted to use red diesel if they are traveling to or from farms to perform agricultural work, or if they are transporting materials or equipment for such operation.

The Council has invited me to tender to cut roadside verges and hedges using a tractor. Do I need to include an extra charge for using white diesel?

No, as long as you don’t use your car for any non-agricultural use on the road. Agricultural tractors can use rebated fuel to cut hedges, trees, and verges that border public highways, according to the law.

How far can I travel if I’m using red diesel to haul straw that I buy in swath and bale before taking it off the field over the few weeks after harvest?

The usage of red diesel has no distance restrictions. However, if you are participating in the agricultural operation that created the straw, such as baling, you can only use rebated fuel.

How do I prove that I have been an “integral part of the agricultural operation”?

Maintaining accurate records is essential because it is the only method to establish that you were participating in an agricultural project. A trail of contracts, job sheets, invoices, and receipts is required. This is critical, especially for contractors, in order to prove that all work done in red is valid.

I have new tenants in a farm cottage and need to move some furniture with my tractor and trailer?

This is not a proper application of red diesel. It is not an agricultural operation, which is defined as the planting, harvesting, or rearing of crops or animals for food, wool, leather, fur, or other purposes.

I use my tractor for farm work, but also haul materials for a local building firm and move soils from construction sites. How do I stay within the law? Can I use dual tanks, or perhaps just pay the extra tax when I should be using white diesel?

Only a tractor used primarily for agricultural purposes is permitted to utilize red diesel. This means that if you work in non-agricultural jobs as well as agricultural jobs, you must utilize white fuel for all of your labor, whether agricultural or not.

A tractor that is taxed as an agricultural vehicle must also be utilized exclusively for agricultural purposes. So you can’t be agriculturally taxed if it isn’t agricultural without breaching the law and risking prosecution.

It’s also dangerous to switch fuels because it’s impossible to get all traces of red out of the tank, especially now that hidden markers are being employed to identify gasoline. If your gasoline is tested on a non-agricultural operation, your tractor will most likely be seized if any fuel indicators are found.

If all non-agricultural labor is done off-road, one option is to transport the tractor on a low loader. Red diesel can be used off-road regardless of the activity for fuel duty purposes as long as you exclusively utilize the road for agricultural activities.

Dual tanks are prohibited and not an option, therefore the short answer is that if you use public highways for both agricultural and non-agricultural activities, you cannot have an agricultural tractor. It must either be re-taxed and painted white to be utilized on public highways purely for agricultural purposes.

If I am caught out using the wrong fuel, how far can HMRC trace my business back?

HMRC has the authority to assess extra duty for a period of four years. It might get very expensive if it is discovered that you were utilizing tractors on red for non-agricultural operations during that time.

I am running a classic tractor charity rally around local country roads. I have been told it isn’t appropriate to use red diesel for this?

This isn’t an agricultural enterprise, to be sure. The tractors must run on white fuel because it is a recreational activity.

I have diversified and have a livery stables within the farmyard. Can I use red diesel to move manure in and out of the yard for my equine clients?

No, maintaining animals for the sake of sport or leisure is not considered agricultural.

My farm contracting business has grown considerably due to our local AD plant. I have two self-propelled forage harvesters and am involved in contracting services planting and harvesting the maize feedstock and taking it into the AD plant. I sometimes harvest and move the maize to a farm field-side clamp, then move it into the plant when it is required. Can I used red diesel?

Yes, because your services are an important component of the farming operation. If you were merely hired to transport maize to the AD factory and weren’t personally involved in cultivating or harvesting the maize, you’d have to use white diesel because you’d be hauling it.

I have been asked by my local sports club if I can use my tractor to keep the sports pitches maintained, fertilised and mowed. Can I used red diesel to travel to the playing fields?

No. Because HMRC does not consider sports pitch maintenance to be horticultural, it must be fuelled with white diesel if it travels on the roadways for this purpose. Off-road work can be done on red if the tractor is mounted on a low loader.

A self-propelled mower, on the other hand, can be run on red at all times.

I need to use my tractor for drainage work and clearing ditches which run across my farmland.

Red diesel can be utilized as long as the job is done for the benefit of agricultural land.

I have also been asked to do additional ditch clearing for a neighbouring housing estate to prevent flooding. Can I use red?

No. Because red diesel cannot be used for flood protection, any extra flood protection/non-agricultural drainage work would necessitate switching the tractor to white diesel (assuming the work does not require the use of public roadways).

I want to tow a van behind my tractor/trailer to the field to get staff back to base to avoid unnecessary journeys to and from the field with big heavy slow machinery. Can it be towed using red diesel?

No, utilizing red diesel in a non-agricultural vehicle (van, automobile, caravan) is not permitted because it is not intended for agricultural usage.

I am employed by a farmer to move sugar beet from a field clamp to a factory. Can I use a tractor licensed as an agricultural machine and running on red diesel on the public road?

Unless you were actively involved in producing or harvesting the sugar beet, this is a haulage operation.

I need to fetch some roof sheets to fix my farm store and need to collect them from the local agricultural country store. Can I take my tractor and trailer on red?

Yes, because you are permitted to transport supplies and equipment for the repair and maintenance of your own farm structures using red diesel (but not the farmhouse).

I was stopped by an “HMRC officer” but I am not sure it was legitimate. How can I be sure?

To begin with, HMRC is unlikely to flag down and halt your vehicle. It’s more likely that it’ll be tested for gasoline as part of a larger vehicle inspection by the police or Vosa.

HMRC officers would generally be in uniform and driving identifiable vehicles and would be able to show you a form of identity.

Vehicles that can use red diesel

Road vehicles are defined by the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act of 1979 as any vehicle built or designed for usage on roadways. These cars must always utilize duty-paid gasoline or diesel.

Certain types of vehicles are exempt from the ban and can therefore utilize red diesel as long as their design and operation match certain criteria. In the next paragraphs, the various types of “excepted vehicle” are explained.

While the DVLA will classify many of the cars indicated in these lines as “special vehicles,” this does not guarantee that they are eligible to utilize rebated gasoline. To be eligible for rebated fuel, a vehicle must meet certain requirements and be operated solely in accordance with the exceptions mentioned in Schedule 1 of the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979.

Unlicensed vehicles not used on public roads

If you don’t maintain or use your vehicle on a public road, for example, if it’s solely utilized on private land, you can use red diesel in your vehicle if you meet the following conditions:

The DVLA has not issued you a license to drive on the road – Licensing entails being taxed, even if at a low rate.

A SORN is a declaration to the DVLA that a vehicle will not be retained or used on public roads.

A SORN is not required for all automobiles. Cars that became untaxed before February 1, 1998, as well as unregistered vehicles that have never been on a public road, fall into this category. You should check the DVLA’s standards for your car.

If your car is unregistered or has a SORN, you may only use it on the public road to get to and from a pre-booked MOT or other testing appointment, according to DVLA guidelines. If we detect your car using red diesel on public roadways at any other time, we will take action.


To run on red diesel, your tractor must be an agricultural tractor that was developed and built for use other than on roadways. You may only operate the tractor on public highways for the following purposes:

Hedges and trees that border public roadways, as well as verges that border public roads, are being trimmed back.

gritting roads, including transit to and from gritting locations, as well as the collecting of gritting equipment and materials

For further information on what we mean by agriculture, horticulture, and forestry, see paragraph 8.23.

Light agricultural vehicles

A light agricultural vehicle is one that has a revenue weight of less than 1,000 kg. They are designed and built with only the driver in mind, and are intended for off-road use. They are allowed to utilize red diesel if it is solely used for agriculture, horticulture, forestry, or road gritting.

According to section 60A of the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994, a vehicle’s revenue weight is either the maximum weight or the design weight.

This category includes quad bikes and other single-seater devices used for agricultural, horticultural, or forestry operations.

Agricultural material handlers

A vehicle designed to lift products or other things and built primarily for off-road use is known as an agricultural material handler. You can use red diesel in an agricultural material handler as long as you don’t utilize public highways for anything other than:

removing hedges or trees that border public highways or are adjacent to public roadways

gritting roads, including travel to and from locations where gritting will be done, as well as the collection of gritting equipment and materials

Agricultural engines

This category is limited to purpose-built vehicles that are designed and used purely for agricultural, horticultural, or forestry purposes, and that are only used on public highways to get to and from where the vehicle will be or has been used for those purposes.

They shall not carry any burden other than what is required for their propulsion or the working equipment that is built-in or permanently attached to the vehicle when utilized for these purposes.

Combine harvesters, crop sprayers, fodder harvesters, and pea vine harvesters are examples of vehicles in this category.

Agricultural processing vehicles

These are agricultural vehicles that may use red diesel if they have built-in machinery for processing agricultural, horticultural, or forestry produce that is used when the vehicle is stationary and is only driven on public roads to and from the location where that machinery will be employed.

They shall not bear any load other than what is required for propulsion or operation of the processing gear when utilized for these purposes.

Mobile seed washing equipment and feed milling machines are examples of vehicles in this category.

Vehicles used between different parts of the land

You may use red diesel in your car on public roads only while driving between separate sections of land occupied by the same individual for agricultural, horticultural, or forestry activities, as long as the journey does not exceed 1.5 kilometers.

Your car must also have a ‘nil licence,’ indicating that it is an exempt vehicle under the 1994 Vehicle Excise and Registration Act.

Mowing machines

Red diesel may be used in a mowing machine as long as it is a complete vehicle with grass cutting machinery built in, whether pedestrian-operated or ‘ride-on.’

Snow clearing vehicles

When your vehicle is being used to clear snow from public roads with a snow plough or similar device temporarily or permanently affixed to it, or when it is moving to or from the place where it is being used for clearing snow, you may use red diesel in it.


Gritters must be built or modified for the specific purpose of transporting machines to spread grit or salt on roadways to deal with frost, ice, or snow.

Many of these vehicles are large trucks that are temporarily converted to gritters during the winter months. You may use red diesel if the gritting equipment is only fitted during the winter and the vehicle is only used for gritting during that time.

Red diesel can also be used to transport a gritter in preparation for cold weather, for gritting training, or to transport it to and from where it will be maintained or tested.

Even if the spreading equipment is also used for gritting, you may not use red diesel if you use it for anything other than dealing with frost, ice, or snow.

carrying gritting equipment that is either thrown in or strapped in place

built or fitted to transport equipment that isn’t utilized for gritting.

When gritting roads, some agricultural vehicles may utilize red diesel (see paragraphs 8.3, 8.4, and 8.5).

Mobile cranes

If your vehicle is designed and manufactured solely for use as a mobile crane, has a revenue weight exceeding 3,500kg, and is used on public highways only as a crane at or near a site, or for going to and from where it is employed, you may use red diesel.

It must not carry any load other than that which is required for its propulsion or the operation of its built-in lifting apparatus when utilized for this purpose.

The crane itself may use red diesel, but the carrier or towing vehicle may not, if your mobile crane is dependent on another vehicle for transportation to and from the location where it will be deployed, whether carried or trailer-mounted.

If your vehicle isn’t specifically meant to be used as a mobile crane, you can’t use red diesel.

vehicles with a raising arm for loading and unloading things that will be transported, utilised, or processed by the vehicle

vehicles with a load carrying capability that can be utilized for this purpose, whether or not they are being employed for this purpose

Mobile pumping vehicles

Red diesel may be used in a pumping vehicle if it is built or modified for the purpose of transporting a pump and jib. You may only use it on public roadways while the vehicle is stationary and the pump is being used to pump material from one location to another, or when traveling to or from the location where the pump is being utilized. It shall not transport the material that will be or has been pumped, or any other weight, unless it is necessary for the vehicle’s propulsion or equipment, or for operating the pump, when it is being utilized for these reasons.

The jib and pump must be integrated into the vehicle. The material pushed must be transported to various heights or depths via piping connected to the pump and jib, with the jib’s operation altering the height or depth of delivery.

Vehicles retrofitted with a jib will only be accepted as fitting the standards of this category if we are satisfied that the jib is capable of significantly altering the height or depth of where the pumped material is delivered. Vehicles without boom-mounted pumps, such as mobile batching plants, and load-carrying vehicles with boom-mounted pumps, such as gully-suckers, do not fall under this category.

Digging machines

To utilize red diesel, your vehicle must be designed, built, and operated for trench digging or any other excavation or shovelling work. You may only use it on public roads for that purpose or for traveling to and from the location where it is used.

When your vehicle is being used for these reasons, it must not carry any load other than that which is required for its propulsion or operation.

Your vehicle must have been developed and built as a single machine capable of performing a digging function in order to fit the definition of a digging machine. Earth scraping machines, mobile drilling rigs, and road planning or abrading machines are examples of tracked vehicles that remove the road surface. A tractor with a front shovel built in might potentially be classified as a digging machine.

shot–blasting is a technique for removing paint or other materials from bridges, girders, and other structures.

When digging machines, drilling units, and any ancillary equipment, such as mud mixing equipment, are transported by a separate, separately powered and fuelled vehicle, the digging machine’s engine may use red diesel, but the vehicle transporting or towing it may not.

This is true regardless of any design features or changes applied to the transportation truck to make it easier to move the specific digging machine and its equipment. This covers situations when supporting apparatus is mounted and fixed in or on a vehicle, either temporarily or permanently, for the purpose of transporting it to and from different locations where it will be used to support the digging machine while it performs its task.

Works trucks

If your vehicle is a goods vehicle designed for use in private premises, it may utilize red diesel like a works truck. These cars must only be used on public roads in the following situations:

for transporting items between a private location to a vehicle on a one-kilometer road

when traveling between private premises and other private premises that are within one kilometer of one another

in connection with road construction at the construction site or within 1 kilometer of the construction site

In this category, a goods vehicle is a vehicle that has been built or modified for the purpose of transporting goods or burdens of any kind (whether in the course of trade or not).

Forklift trucks,’shunt’ vehicles designed to tow articulated trailers and their cargo across sites, and customized vehicles that lift and move freight containers around sites are examples of works trucks. The vehicle will typically have a top speed much below 30 miles per hour or more, and will lack several of the elements required by the Road Traffic Act 1988, such as braking and lighting systems.

Road surfacing vehicles

A road surfacing vehicle that is designed and constructed to perform an operation necessary to construct or restore the surface of a road, has a maximum speed of not more than 20 kilometers per hour, and does not carry any load on a public road except as is necessary for its propulsion or to operate any machinery built-in or permanently attached to it, may use red diesel.

Tar sprayer

Red diesel may be used in a tar sprayer if it is built or permanently converted for the sole purpose of spraying tar on the road or when traveling to and from where it is used for that purpose.

This or any other category does not include hot boxes used to transport and retain tar at a specific temperature.

What we mean by ‘built in’

Built-in refers to equipment or features that are designed to be integrated into a vehicle rather than being purchased separately. The equipment would be designed to accomplish the vehicle’s primary duty, such as lifting, pumping, or digging. These features are unlikely to be easily or quickly removable.

Separate equipment, supporting apparatus, and optional accessories that are not intended to be an inherent part of the vehicle but are simply attached to it for security or ease of transportation are not considered built in.

What we mean by ‘a load necessary for propulsion or operation of equipment’

This refers to commodities, materials, or equipment that the vehicle must transport since it cannot be operated safely without them. This could include fuel, lubricants, and tools needed to make changes or perform maintenance on the vehicle while it is in use. It also contains any equipment required to meet health and safety laws, such as cones to demarcate a safe work zone and the operators’ personal protective equipment.

Other items, materials, or equipment that are not directly required for the vehicle’s propulsion or functioning are not permitted to be transported.

What we mean by ‘designed and constructed for use other than on roads’

Despite the fact that some vehicles are capable of being driven on a road and are legally equipped to do so, their specialist design will plainly indicate that they are intended to be driven and utilized primarily off-road.

This covers vehicles that are primarily designed and intended for use on land, snow, ice, marsh, swampland, or other natural terrain and are not primarily designed and intended for use on highways, whether public or private.

Farm machinery, farm tractors, and other vehicles used exclusively for agricultural purposes; any self-propelled equipment specifically designed for harvesting and transportation of forest products, clearing land for planting, utility services and maintenance, earth moving, construction, or mining; and any self-propelled equipment specifically designed for harvesting and transportation of forest products, clearing land for planting, utility services and maintenance.

Vehicles designed primarily for road use but capable of, or adapted for, some degree of cross-country or off-road use, such as by having all-wheel drive systems, higher ground clearance, and special tyres fitted, are not accepted as being designed and constructed primarily for use other than on roads, regardless of how they are normally used.

What we mean by ‘agriculture, horticulture or forestry’

Agriculture, horticulture, and forestry are defined as follows by HMRC:

Agriculture is the science and art of soil cultivation, crop growth and harvesting, and livestock rearing.

Horticulture is the science and practice of developing or managing gardens, which includes flower, fruit, and vegetable growth.

Forestry is the science and art of creating and cultivating forests, as well as the management of timber production.

Activities relating to agriculture, horticulture or forestry

When the government revised the regulations on red diesel entitlement in January 2007, it asked HMRC and industry representatives to work together to create and publish a code of practice defining agricultural, horticultural, and forestry purposes. 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, was published on January 10, 2008, as a result of this. Section 9 contains a copy of the Memorandum.

Can you put normal diesel in a tractor?

Red diesel can be used in any diesel engine, however it should only be utilized in commercial applications like generators, boilers, and tractors. Using gas oil in a car on public highways, for example, is prohibited.

On the government’s website, “excepted cars” that can run on red diesel are listed, including:

Please keep in mind that even if your vehicle is listed above, you must still make sure that its use is legal. For example, you are allowed to use red diesel in a tractor for agricultural tasks, such as traveling to and from different places of work, as long as they are within 1.5 kilometers of each other. You’ll be breaking the law if you go any further.

How can you tell if someone is using red diesel?

HMRC must conduct dip testing to find a marker dye within the fuel or tank in order to test for the usage of gas oil. The red color is introduced to help people recognize it as red diesel. What is blue diesel, exactly?

What is the punishment for using red diesel?

The HMRC will charge you for the restoration of your vehicle’s system to clean your tank and filters to remove the marker dye if you’re caught using it illegally. For its removal, you will be charged a price. Your vehicle may be impounded, or you may be charged back for the cost difference between red diesel and road diesel for the time you’ve been driving it.

Is red diesel going to be banned?

From April 1, 2022, construction companies will no longer be able to use’red’ diesel for most uses. Red diesel has a lower fuel charge than white diesel, with a duty of 46.81 pence per litre for red diesel vs 46.81 pence per litre for white diesel.

Can red diesel damage your engine?

No, your truck will be alright on this diesel. The main variation is in color, not in the components. It’s strictly for off-road use, as indicated by the red colour. It’s coloured red to make it visible to government officers if you’re using it illegally. Be aware that if you’re discovered driving on US highways, you could face a ticket and a hefty fine.

Off-road diesel will run your automobile if it runs on diesel. However, as previously said, if you use it illegally and are detected, you will be penalized by both the state and federal governments. Because that is sometimes the only fuel available in the event of a natural disaster, you are unlikely to be penalized.

Technically, you can, because the color is the only difference. We’ve heard of cases where someone bought a truck that ran on off-road diesel and then switched to regular diesel. In that situation, the new owner just switched to regular diesel and the vehicle performed admirably.

The distinguishing red dye is the most noticeable variation, and there may also be a difference in sulfur levels. Furthermore, because this agricultural fuel is designed for heavy machinery, it heats up quickly.

Driving until the tank is completely empty is the simplest way to get rid of the red dye. Then pour in a couple gallons of or normal diesel and let it run for a while. Repeat this process numerous times. If you want to be sure it’s gone, have your repair flush the gasoline system.

No, it isn’t possible. Except for the colour, it’s identical as on-road diesel. If you have a diesel engine, you can use farm fuel to power it. Just make sure you’re not breaking any laws when you use it.

Some people believe it is “tax-free,” but depending on the state, it may or may not be. Here’s a list of states with information on gasoline tax exemptions. When you’re permitted to use this type of fuel off-road, you’ll either pay less at the pump or get a refund on your fuel tax.

You could be charged with “Motor Fuel Tax Evasion” if you’re caught and convicted. Is it really worth it to save money on gas? Here’s what the IRS has to say about it:

“What are the Consequences?” In general, no coloured fuel should be used in highway vehicles. The Internal Revenue Code stipulates a penalty of $1,000 or $10 per gallon, whichever is larger, with payment of the tax for each violation. Additional fines may be imposed by states.”

Mixing the two types of diesel fuels is not a problem, however red diesel has a higher sulfur level than green. It’s also known as green fuel because it’s environmentally beneficial. It’s either light green or transparent in appearance.

This is subject to change. If you’re unsure, you can dip a tube in your tank and pull out a sample to see what color it is; there are also manual dipstick kits and black lights available. However, the gas does not remain in your tank; it passes through your fuel system. If you’re worried, take it to your mechanic to have the system flushed.

Is it illegal to have red diesel?

Why is it unlawful to use red diesel? Because it has a lower fuel duty, red diesel is unlawful because it is not approved for use on public roadways. As a result, using red diesel on a public road is deemed tax avoidance, and is thus prohibited.

Who can use red diesel after April?

Red diesel can now be utilized in any machine that isn’t a road vehicle, according to current legislation. The law will alter on April 1, 2022, to limit rebated fuel consumption to particular types of cars, machinery, and appliances when the fuel is used for specific reasons only.