Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation

The current Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO) was introduced in 2008 and places an obligation on owners of liquid fossil fuel intended for road transport use to ensure that either a certain amount of biofuel is supplied or that a substitute amount of money is paid. This obligation is assessed according to who owns the fuel when it crosses the duty point (the point when a fuel becomes chargeable for duty). Only those organisations that supply more than 450,000 litres of fossil fuel in a given year are obligated by the Order. The amount of biofuel that must be supplied increases annually until April 2013 when it will reach 5% of total road transport fuel supplied by volume. It will remain at that level for subsequent years.

Owners of biofuel at the duty point are awarded one Renewable Transport Fuel Certificate (RTFC) per litre of biofuel, or kilogram of biomethane, supplied. RTFCs may be earned irrespective of the volume of biofuel owned, providing a potential revenue stream for even the smallest suppliers. RTFCs may be traded between participants in the scheme.

At the end of the year, suppliers of fossil road transport fuel demonstrate compliance with the RTFO by redeeming the appropriate number of RTFCs to demonstrate the required volume of biofuel was supplied. Alternatively, obligated fossil fuel suppliers can pay a buy-out price per litre of obligation, the buy-out price being set in the RTFO Order. Suppliers are allowed to carry over RTFCs from one year to the next, provided that no more than 25% of the supplier's obligation to supply biofuel for the later year is met by carrying over RTFCs. This enables suppliers to 'bank' certificates against unforeseen circumstances. Under the current scheme, biofuel suppliers must provide information on the GHG savings, and environmental and social impacts of their fuels in order to earn a certificate. The content of the information does not affect whether an RTFC is issued.

The RTFO only covers biofuels used in the transport sector for information on using bioliquids or biomass to generate heat or electricity please see Ofgem sustainability.

FAQs for suppliers

The DfT aims to make the registration and reporting process as clear and easy as possible for all suppliers. In this section you will find information about the important, basic processes fuel suppliers will be involved with, including registration and obligations.


The administrator awards one Renewable Transport Fuel Certificate (RTFCs) for every litre of biofuel supplied under the RTFO. RTF Certificates are not physical objects, and cannot exist outside the administrative system. They can be traded amongst ROS account holders through a simple procedure. The DfT does not support, monitor or facilitate any of the commercial elements of the transaction, only the transfer of ownership of the certificates. Certificates may be revoked if the DfT's RTFO unit finds that inaccurate or fraudulent information was provided in the application or subsequent requested evidence. Certificates are used by obligated suppliers as evidence of meeting their obligation. Once an obligation period has finished, the DfT calculates the obligation of each obligated supplier. They are then asked to either redeem certificates or buy out of their obligation. Certificates may be used as evidence of meeting an obligation either for the obligation period for which they were awarded, or for up to 25% of an obligation in the following obligation period.

Carbon & Sustainability Technical Guidance

The Carbon & Sustainability Technical Guidance outlines the processes that should be followed by registered suppliers when preparing their monthly and annual reports for the RTFO administrator. Guidance is also available for verifiers.

Current guidance

Earlier guidance

Current Verifiers' Guidance


Open consultations

We do not currently have any open consultations on our approach to Carbon & Sustainability reporting. The most recent consultation on the C&S Technical Guidance closed on 03 March 2011.

Archived consultations

Carbon calculator

The carbon calculator is a standalone programme that allows users to assess the greenhouse gas savings from a given batch of biofuels.

Voluntary sustainability schemes

Using feedstocks produced under a recognised sustainability standard scheme offers suppliers one route for demonstrating their biofuel meets certain criteria. These standards provide assurance that crops or fuel have been produced according to certain practices, in the same way that the FairTrade label shows goods have been produced according to social standards or Soil Association certification proves farm produce is organic. Under the RTFO, meeting sustainability criteria is voluntary. The RED sets mandatory sustainability targets for all biofuel.

EC-approved as RED compliant

A number of sustainability scheme operators have applied to the EC to have their standards recognised as RED compliance. None have been approved to date, but we will add and update a list of approved schemes once they are recognised.

Benchmarking against RTFO Meta Standard

Since the launch of the RTFO, schemes have been benchmarked against the RTFO Meta Standard. The Meta Standard has not been submitted for EC recognition and its role will be reviewed upon RED implementation.

Indicative RED benchmarks

Prior to RED implementation, benchmarking has been carried out to assess whether schemes could potentially be used by operators to show compliance with the Directive. This benchmarking was conducted by the RTFO administrator to provide industry and those that operate schemes with an indication of how standards might be measured against RED criteria and should not be confused with EC approval.

RTFO reporting calendar for suppliers

The RTFO reporting calendar sets out the key dates and deadlines for suppliers.

Help accessing downloadable file formats

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People with visual difficulties may find it useful to learn about improving the accessibility of Acrobat documents at the Adobe Accessibility Resource Centre .

For information about RTF and zip files please visit help with downloads.

If you are unable to access a publication, please contact us to organise a suitable alternative format.

For related documents, pages and internet links, see the column on the right.