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Old 05-03-2020, 04:08   #1
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Red Diesel, Brexit and the EU

Hi folks,

I read a thread here from 2017, bemoaning the Belgian authorities fining UK sailors for having red diesel in their tanks.

Since we are now (theoretically at least) out of the EU, does anyone know what the situation is or what the future might hold?
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Old 05-03-2020, 04:17   #2
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Re: Red Diesel, Brexit and the EU

No. No-one does.
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Old 05-03-2020, 04:53   #3
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Re: Red Diesel, Brexit and the EU

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Originally Posted by Pentos View Post
Hi folks,

I read a thread here from 2017, bemoaning the Belgian authorities fining UK sailors for having red diesel in their tanks.

Since we are now (theoretically at least) out of the EU, does anyone know what the situation is or what the future might hold?
Isn't the general rule that you're subject to the laws of the country you and your vessel are in? If Belgian law doesn't allow dyed diesel in a boat, why would being flagged from another country exempt one from that law if you were in Belgium, or am I missing something here?
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Old 05-03-2020, 05:21   #4
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Re: Red Diesel, Brexit and the EU

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Isn't the general rule that you're subject to the laws of the country you and your vessel are in? If Belgian law doesn't allow dyed diesel in a boat, why would being flagged from another country exempt one from that law if you were in Belgium, or am I missing something here?
I don't claim to be an expert or anything, but isn't it akin to drinking your duty free after you get home?
Duty is paid at point of sale not point of use, surely?
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Old 05-03-2020, 10:19   #5
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Re: Red Diesel, Brexit and the EU

Check out the Cruising Association website for the story so far...... It was they who got the Belgians to rescind their actions,
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Old 05-03-2020, 10:26   #6
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Re: Red Diesel, Brexit and the EU

The issue is the EU determined that dyed diesel (Red in UK and Green in Ireland) should not be used in Private Pleasure Vessels and should only be available to licensed "agricultural" users (Fishing Boats in the maritime sense). Therefore it is an offence to have dyed diesel in your tanks in EU waters if you are a pleasure craft.

The problem is that HMRC have historically allowed UK vessels to use dyed diesel for a couple of simple reasons; a) white diesel is very difficult to obtain at most harbours in the UK and b) a certain % of the diesel is used for "heating" which is taxed at a much lower rate of tax than "motive" fuels.

So we in the UK, and Ireland, have historically been able to purchase dyed diesel then pay the additional duty on a 60/40 split, 60% motive fuel, 40% heating fuel. This was until recently accepted by the rest of the EU. Belgium decided though that they were going to apply the full letter of the EU ruling and started fining vessels with dyed diesel even if they could show, through official receipts, that the duty had been paid.

Don't think anything will change for UK flagged boats going to the continent, Brexit or no Brexit, Deal or No Deal, as the rules of the country you are visiting apply.
Bit like the fact your flares MUST be in date if sailing in France and you must have a red warning triangle in the car to drive in Germany or the Hi Vis Vest must be in the passenger compartment (not the boot/trunk).
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Old 05-03-2020, 10:34   #7
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Re: Red Diesel, Brexit and the EU

Perhaps now that we're (theoretically) independent again, we could reciprocate with some daft laws of our own. Like, a 1000 surcharge for any EU pleasure craft in UK waters not carrying a pot of Marmite and some Pork Scratchings...
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Old 05-03-2020, 10:38   #8
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Re: Red Diesel, Brexit and the EU

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Isn't the general rule that you're subject to the laws of the country you and your vessel are in? If Belgian law doesn't allow dyed diesel in a boat, why would being flagged from another country exempt one from that law if you were in Belgium, or am I missing something here?


Yes, you're right in general terms. The EU ruling is that pleasure boats are banned from using red diesel. The UK negotiated an exception to this as our ports and Marinas hadn't done the necessary infrastructure work to stock white diesel. This exception was accepted by all EU countries, remembering the UK was an EU member and still is, sort of, for years until Belgium suddenly decided unilaterally to start enforcing the rule. The UK through the Cruising Association and the RYA prevailed upon the Belgian government to lay off UK sailors which measure was only partly successful, some Belgian Customs officers continuing to sanction UK sailors. Remember that red diesel for pleasure boats is completely legal in the UK and incurs VAT.
Now all that happened while the UK was a full member of the EU. We are now in a transition period until October when we will likely crash out with all sorts of things hanging loose. So, will the existing agreement with the EU be continued? Who knows? Will all the other European nations begin enforcing the regulation, in effect barring UK boats? Who knows? Will the government prioritise this issue? Unlikely.
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Old 05-03-2020, 11:15   #9
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Re: Red Diesel, Brexit and the EU

You might also read some of the discussions on the UK boating forum YBW.com
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Old 05-03-2020, 11:46   #10
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Re: Red Diesel, Brexit and the EU

My centrifuge removes the red dye. I had a tank of diesel that had sat a couple years. So ran it through the centrifuge usually used for oil. Went in red, came out clear.
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Old 05-03-2020, 16:25   #11
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Re: Red Diesel, Brexit and the EU

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Originally Posted by Pentos View Post
Perhaps now that we're (theoretically) independent again, we could reciprocate with some daft laws of our own. Like, a 1000 surcharge for any EU pleasure craft in UK waters not carrying a pot of Marmite and some Pork Scratchings...
If the Poms are going to pass such laws, at least be civilised and make it Vegemite. Haven't we taught you guys any taste yet?
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Old 05-03-2020, 21:03   #12
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Re: Red Diesel, Brexit and the EU

And while last buying dyed diesel in the UK for a yacht I managed to pay for 80% heating, 20% motive - don't ask!!
You'll be happy to know that if you ever visit Canada that red dyed diesel is perfectly legitimate for all uses except on road including yachts, generator systems, industrial, agricultural etc. here its currently about 20% +- cheaper than on road diesel from memory. Heating oil here is also dyed.
Cheers,
Niall.
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Old 05-03-2020, 21:43   #13
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Re: Red Diesel, Brexit and the EU

Do US or Aussie or Kiwi boats get fined for having non EU tax paid fuel in their tanks?
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Old 05-03-2020, 22:03   #14
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Re: Red Diesel, Brexit and the EU

US marine diesel has the red dye.
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Old 05-03-2020, 22:08   #15
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Re: Red Diesel, Brexit and the EU

I suspect that British boats with red diesel will be fine during the transition period but not after that.
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