Pumpin' you up on fuel rules

by Steph Edington
Stripes Europe

Living in Europe means you’ll need to make a few extra steps when re- fueling your vehicle. Knowing the rules regarding tax-free fuel and rations will ensure that you continue to purchase discounted fuel at the current tax-free price arranged between the U.S. government and your host country. 

Prices at the Pump 

Fuel in Europe is heavily taxed compared to the States, and can be twice as expensive. Luckily, active-duty servicemembers, their dependents, contractors and DOD civilians are eligible for discounted fuel prices through the AAFES fuel-ration program (specifics vary per country). Regardless of where you are stationed in Europe, there are a few things to consider before you pull up to the pump. 

Sign Up to Pump 

After you buy a car or it arrives from overseas shipment, you have 30 days to register it and apply for the fuel-ration program, or you could lose ration privileges. Rental cars require a separate fuel ration application and card than your POV. Ration amounts for rental cars will be determined based on the time left on the rental contract, up to one month. A new application is required every 30 days for long-term rental cars. 

Who Can Pump 

Your fuel ration is specific to you, as the sponsor, and your license plate(s). Your dependents are authorized to utilize your account, which is opened under your social security number for all vehicles registered to you, and your ration allowance. Only vehicles that are registered to you can receive reduced-rate fuel. If you or your dependents are caught fueling a non-authorized vehicle, or a non-authorized person is caught trying to fuel any vehicle using your fuel-ration account, punitive action may be taken against you. 

Every time you fuel your car, be sure to present the proper identification and documentation showing that you are entitled to purchase fuel at a reduced rate (per the specifics of your country’s AAFES fuel-ration program), or you will have to pay economy prices. Even if you aren’t asked for every form of identification or paperwork every time you fuel up, don’t become complacent. The attendant has the right to ask for all the necessary documents, and if you can’t produce them, they can deny your transaction and you will be forced to pay the economy price for your fuel. Keep all documents, registration, IDs pertaining to the fuel-ration program valid to continue to receive the reduced-rate price. 

You can authorize someone else to drive your vehicle through a special power of attorney, but they are not authorized to use your fuel-ration allowance. If you deploy and have no dependents, you may add an ID cardholder as an authorized driver to your vehicle registration, he/she is eligible to drive your vehicle and use your fuel-ration allowance. Go with the additional driver and take your current registration and a copy of your deployment orders to your local vehicle registration office. You must pay the fee to re-register your vehicle, even if the current registration is not expired. 

What to Pump 

Your ration is also specific to the type of fuel your car takes. POV diesel cards are coded to only allow purchase of diesel fuel. POV gas cards are coded to only allow purchase of regular, super, or super-plus purchases. Using a fuel card to purchase a type of fuel other than that which is authorized will result in being charged the economy price for the fuel. 

How Much to Pump 

Going over your allotted fuel ration will result in having to pay economy prices. To verify how much your fuel ration is, go to odin.aafees.com to log into your account. You will need the sponsor’s social security number and license plate number for the Esso account. Diesel may not be available at all on-post Exchange gas stations. If you go over your rationed fuel amount when fueling your vehicle on post, you will be charged the economy price for all fuel exceeding your ration. If you go over your rationed allowance off post, you will have to pay for the entire transaction in the local currency at the economy price, not just the fuel amount exceeding your ration. 

Where to Pump 

Your fuel-ration account will only work in the country it was issued. Even though AAFES oversees the U.S. fuel-rationing program, each host nation in Europe has its own procedures and program. However, if you are TDY or on leave to another host nation that has a fuel-rationing program in place, you may be able to take your official TDY or leave paperwork to a U.S. Forces installation in that country and temporarily sign up for that country’s tax-free fuel program for the duration of your stay. Call ahead to the office that authorizes rationed fuel for visitors to check for eligibility. This will likely be the military police (Army), security forces (Air Force), or rationed product control (Navy). 

Knowing these rules can save you a lot of cash and hassle, and ensure that you can always get where you need to go in your new country of residence.

For more information about the AAFES fuel-ration system in the country you are stationed in, make sure to check out the latest Stars and Stripes Road Guide. The Road Guide is filled with useful information you need to get you on the road and keep you safe.

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