Use of Marine Diesel in EU and Northern Ireland

What colour should your diesel be?

Following the UK's departure from the EU RATS has issued two advice notes on the purchase and use of Red diesel.

RATS recommends that members print copies of the latest advice and keep them for reference with their vessel's papers.

The recent ECJ ruling on the use of Red diesel in NI and the subsequent fine on UK government directly affects vessels which are based and purchase diesel in NI. However as acknowledged in this ECJ press release it does not apply to UK vessels based and purchasing fuel outside of NI.

Hence irrespective of the ECJ ruling the use of Red Diesel for propulsion remains legal for UK vessels not based in or purchasing dyed diesel in NI.

The CA’s Regulatory & Technical Services group (RATS) has previously received confirmation from UK HMRC that the Istanbul Convention of 1990 allows vessels to make visits to the EU27 and elsewhere without import prohibitions or restrictions on propulsion fuel. This includes visiting craft with UK red marine diesel, or red dye traces, in the engine tank(s). However it may be that port officials in the EU may need to be reminded of this convention.  However the carriage of spare diesel in cans when entering the EU or NI should be avoided as it may result in customs actions (see updated advice 01/03/2024)

The text of the Istanbul Convention is available in Annex C Article 4 page 134 of this document

The Regulatory & Technical Services group (RATS) is an executive committee of the Cruising Association (CA) made up of CA volunteers. RATS gives advice and assistance to CA members and others on a voluntary basis but this is subject to the following Disclaimer and should not be regarded as a substitute for appropriate professional advice.

Disclaimer: Any advice has been prepared voluntarily by the Cruising Association, its members and others and they and it have tried to ensure that the contents are accurate. However, the Cruising Association, its employees, contributors and relevant members shall not be liable for any loss, damage or inconvenience of any kind howsoever arising in connection with the use of and/or reliance on such advice, save to the extent required by applicable law.