FCO in talks over tax-free fuel card

Diplomats will get their tax back at the pump with the diplomatic fuel card

Waiting months for VAT refunds on petrol purchases could become a thing of the past for diplomats with the introduction of a duty-free diplomatic fuel card in the UK.

After researching a number of other partners, the Foreign Office invited Fin-Tech company Diplomatic Card Services-UK to run a pilot programme, in partnership with fuel card business Allstar, which is a major supplier of fuel card solutions to UK government and a number of diplomatic missions.

Digital Card Services has a proven track record in Europe, working with embassies and international missions in the diplomatic hubs of Brussels and The Hague.

“We are a flexible, transparent and reliable partner of the diplomatic corps,” said Marc Stockbroekx, CEO of Digital Card Services, the parent company of Diplomatic Card Services-UK. “Our ambition is to make the diplomat’s stay in the UK as convenient as possible.”

The current system is unsatisfactory, according to the consultation survey conducted by Embassy Magazine which revealed that diplomats typically wait three to six months for VAT refunds.

On-the-spot tax exemption
Under the new scheme, those qualifying for diplomatic privileges in the UK will be able to buy tax-free fuel on the spot and receive a single consolidated invoice, eliminating the administrative burden of submitting TX10 forms and lengthy delays to reclaim tax.

All paperwork will be handled by Diplomatic Card Services-UK, working directly with the Foreign Office and HMRC.

“There will be no more hassle with receipts, no more paperwork to be done. Tax-free privileges are digitalised and run automatically for the diplomat,” said Stockbroekx. “The only worry diplomats will have in the future, is not to lose their Diplomatic Fuel Card, but even that will not be a problem as we can provide a replacement card within 48 hours,” he added.

Wide network of fuel stations
Diplomats will also have access to Allstar’s network of more than 7,800 fuel stations for both diesel and petrol and will be able to shop around for the best pump price.

“The breadth of our network means that diplomats aren’t restricted to a specific brand or location,” said Peter Bridgen, MD of Fleetcor, the parent company of Allstar Business Solutions. “We are looking forward to providing a service that will allow diplomats to get on with their jobs with limited admin,” he added.

Pending a successful pilot, the plan is to open the programme to all missions by the end of 2015. For details on how to participate in the pilot programme, see information below.

The Diplomatic Fuel Card team will be at the Diplomatic Induction Seminar on 16 October. There will be regular updates on the pilot in Embassy Magazine.

Diplomatic Card Services UK welcomes your views. If you have suggestions on how the system could work, contact info@diplomaticcard.co.uk For further information, visit www.diplomaticcard.co.uk

How to participate in the Fuel Card Pilot Programme

The parameters of the Diplomatic Fuel Card pilot programme are as follows:

  • The fuel card pilot will run from October to November.
  • Diplomatic Card Services UK are seeking two diplomats from 25 diplomatic missions to volunteer for the pilot programme. One will be a private user, the second will be using an official vehicle.
  • Three transactions during the two-month pilot period.
  • Each participant will receive an average of £140 free fuel for the pilot.

If you would like to participate, email info@diplomaticcard.co.uk