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HM Revenue and Customs Brief 29/12


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Excise duty: increase in restoration fee following the seizure of a road vehicle (fuel offences)

Purpose of this Brief

This Brief gives information about changes to the way restoration fees are calculated and the increase in those fees following seizure of a road vehicle as a result of a fuel offence.

Who needs to read this?

This change will not affect the vast majority of road users who use fuel in their vehicles on which the full excise duty and VAT has been accounted for correctly. The changes will only affect those road users who are found to have rebated fuel illegally in the fuel tank of their road vehicle, whether private or commercial.


Rebated fuel bears a lower rate of excise duty than road fuel. It is not allowed to be used in vehicles using public roads other than in a limited number of 'excepted vehicles', such as specified agricultural and construction vehicles, where use on the roads is incidental to the main use. The most common rebated fuel is 'red diesel', but kerosene and 'green diesel' from the Republic of Ireland are also included.

If a vehicle at the roadside is tested by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and found to be illegally using rebated fuel or a road fuel substitute where the appropriate duty for road use has not been paid, the vehicle may be seized.

Under HMRC's current policy, it can be restored to the owner directly at the roadside on payment of a restoration fee, on condition that the fuel is changed at the first safe and practical opportunity.

In some cases, the vehicle may have to be seized pending further enquiries. These enquiries may lead to an audit to establish the extent of duty arrears and liability to penalties in respect of the detected vehicle and others owned or operated by the person responsible.

What are the changes?

The restoration fee is currently made up of:

  • an amount based on regulatory fixed penalties of 250, for unlawfully taking rebated fuel into a road vehicle and a further 250 for unlawfully using rebated fuel in a road vehicle
  • an amount which is equal to the duty and VAT which should have been paid on the quantity of fuel found in the tank an amount to cover the storage and removal costs (in cases where the vehicle is removed)
  • From 1 November 2012 the duty and VAT element of the restoration fee will be based on the total litre capacity of a vehicle's fuel tank, not the quantity of illicit fuel remaining in the vehicle's fuel tanks.

Who will be affected?

Anybody in charge of a vehicle on the road or at the roadside which is found with illegal traces of rebated fuel or a road fuel substitute where the appropriate duty for road use has not been paid in their vehicle's fuel tank will be liable to the increased fees. This includes both private and commercial vehicles.

Why are these changes being made?

Increasing the restoration fee will make it more of a deterrent to anybody considering using rebated fuel or a road fuel substitute where the appropriate excise duty for road use has not been paid.

The illegal use of these cheaper, rebated fuels places legitimate businesses at a disadvantage.

What legislation is being changed or introduced?

No changes to legislation are being made. HMRC is able to increase the amount of the fee without change to primary or secondary legislation.


The changes come into effect on 1 November 2012.

About the Author

Crown Copyright 2012.

A licence is needed to reproduce this article and has been republished for educational / informational purposes only. Article reproduced by permission of HM Revenue & Customs.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2012-10-30 12:44:07 in Tax Articles

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