Red Diesel

Belgium gives the green light for motorboaters

The Royal Belgian Sailing Club is urging motorboaters to visit the country and not be deterred by the “red diesel myth”. 

Some British owners visiting Belgium in recent years have been hit by heavy fines for carrying dyed fuel, despite the sale of waterside red diesel being entirely lawful in the UK. However, in a recent letter to the president of the Flemish Watersports Association (VZW) in Nieuwpoort, Koen Greens, the Belgium finance minister, advised that visiting British leisure craft could use red diesel in Belgium waters, subject to conditions.

Visitors will need to be able to present documents to demonstrate that excise duties have been paid in the UK and that these documents are no older than one year dating from the date of the inspection. 

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Maurice Beke, secretary-general of the RBSC, said: “Zeebrugge, one of the major ports of Belgium, has always been very popular among British yachtsmen as a safe anchorage, accessible in all conditions and all states of tide, even for deep-draught craft. It would be a real pity to have a cruise to such a magnificent area as the Belgium coast spoilt by the red diesel myth.”

The RYA’s advice on this includes:

  •  Keep receipts for diesel purchased in the UK, to prove that it was brought in the UK, and request that the retailer mark them ‘duty paid’.
  •  Log the date of refuelling and engine hours to reinforce these records. 
  •  Do not carry red diesel anywhere other than in the 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.


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