The RYA has urged the Belgian authorities to clarify their position over British boaters using red diesel after a temporary exemption expired

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British boaters visiting Belgium this summer face an uncertain situation over the right to carry red diesel, the RYA has warned.

The yachting association is seeking clarification over the use of marked fuel, after a temporary exemption expired at the end of last year.

Belgium has the strictest stance of any European county on the matter of red diesel, and as a result there has been a gradual drop in British boaters visiting the country over the past few years.

In January 2014, Belgian minister for finance Koen Geens responded to this trend by granting a temporary exemption until October 31, which was later extended until December 31.

However, Mr Geens’ replacement Johan Van Overtveldt has not yet extended this agreement into 2015, something that has raised the RYA’s concerns.

“We understand from the Maritieme Brigade Douane that part of the reason why the Belgian Government decided not to extend this permission into 2015 was because local interest groups did not ask the Belgian Government to extend it,” an RYA statement explains.

As a result, the association has written to various Belgian marinas and clubs to raise the issue, with the hope of resolving the matter before the summer holidays.

Red diesel 101

The vast majority of the diesel sold at marinas in the UK is marked with a red dye to indicate its tax-free status for fishing vessels.

Private leisure boats are allowed to purchase this fuel as well – provided they pay tax on 60% of the total amount.

This 60:40 rule is based on the assumption that 60% of the diesel is used for propulsion, which is taxable, and 40% is used for powering domestic appliances, which is tax exempt.

However, many European states do not have a similar arrangement and as a result, British skippers are required to carry evidence that they have paid tax on any red diesel in their tanks when cruising overseas.

Despite this general agreement there have been isolated incidents of Belgian authorities refusing to accept proof of purchase and prosecuting British boaters for carrying red diesel.

For more information on the situation surrounding red diesel and proof of purchase, visit the RYA website.