RV propane tank

Everything you ever wanted to know about RV propane tank certification

Believe it or not, RV propane tanks have an “expiration date” so if you’ve had your Airstream for a while, or have recently bought a used older model Airstream, then at some point you’ll run into having to get your 30 lb RV propane tanks recertified. 

If you’re prepared and know when your tank recertification date is, it can prevent the hassle of a propane supplier or campground refusing to refill your propane tanks because the propane tanks have passed their recertification date. If a propane tank is past its recertification date, its illegal for a propane supplier to refill the propane tank without recertifying it first. So you might slide by once or twice if they aren’t carefully checking for the recertification date, but as some point when you go to refill your propane tank, someone will notice that the tank is past due and refuse to refill it.

What is propane tank recertification?

DOT-approved portable propane tanks all have a  manufacturing month and year stamped on the collar. These propane tanks then need to be recertified 12 years from that date stamp in the United States  and after 10 years in Canada. Note that the recertification applies to the portable upright 20lb and 30 lb propane tanks and not the horizontal propane tanks that some non-Airstream model campers and RVs might have.

How long is a propane tank recertification good for?

Propane recertification stickers around good for either 5 to 10 years from the date of inspection and recertification depending on what type of recertification process the tank went through.

Visual Inspections are good for 5 years. For a visual recertification of a propane tank, inspector preforms a visual inspection of the external parts of the propane tank looking for dents and other damage such as visible cracks, rust or other problems that may affect the integrity of the propane tank. A tank that has a 5 year Visual Inspection recertification sticker can be recertified for another 5 years at the end of the first 5 years by another Visual Inspection Certification.

Proof-Pressure and Volumetric Expansion recertification tests for propane tanks are valid for 10 years from the date of issue.

How to find the certification date on a propane tank

The manufacturing date of your propane tank is stamped on the metal collar of the propane tank in a month and year (MM/YY) format. The recertification date for the propane tank is 12 years in the U.S. and 10 years in Canada, from that stamped date.

propane tank manufacturing date stamped on tank collar
From U.S. Department of Transportation

Propane tanke recertification stickers can come in several formats. The recertification sticker should show the date the sticker expires (should be in either 5 or 10 years) as well as the method used to recertify the propane tank.

propane tank recertification stickers
From U.S. Department of Transportation

Cost for tank recertification

Cost for propane tank recertification can vary quite a lot. I’ve had quotes between $15 to $45 depending on the location and dealer. So you can save a decent amount of money by calling a few places and getting quotes from them.


Finding a recertification location

Asking your friendly campground host or campground neighbors is a good place to start. I also look for local propane suppliers since they are usually trained to do propane tank recertification.

You can also use this handy map look-up from the U.S. Department of Transportation for propane tank recertification centers near you.