Bulletin C-03: Filling of portable propane cylinders

Category: Commodities
Issue date:
Effective date:
Revision number: 7
Supersedes: 6


Table of contents


1.0 Scope

This bulletin applies only to propane sold in cylinders.

2.0 Purpose

This bulletin provides guidance with respect to the sale of propane in portable cylinders as well as the requirements and exemptions for devices used to measure the quantity of propane sold in cylinders.

3.0 References

4.0 Methods of sale

The following methods are currently used for the sale of propane in portable cylinders:

  1. Exchanging the customer's empty or partially empty cylinder for a cylinder that has been filled and marked with a net weight prior to being offered for sale at the retail level.
  2. Filling the customer's cylinder, weighing the propane added at the time of the sale, returning the cylinder to the customer and providing them with the weight of the propane added to the cylinder. The weight of propane delivered is determined by subtracting the weight of the cylinder before filling from the weight after filling.
  3. Filling the customer's cylinder, measuring the volume of propane added at the time of the sale, returning the cylinder to the customer and providing them with the volume of the propane added to the cylinder.
  4. Refilling propane cylinders for a flat rate based on the capacity of the cylinder, regardless of the amount of propane added (traders who use this method typically use a scale to prevent overfilling rather than determining the quantity of propane added).

Traders are not limited to using the methods described above. However, if other methods are used, they must meet the requirements of the Weights and Measures Act (WMA) and any other applicable Act of Parliament.

5.0 Applicable legislation

5.1 Legislation applicable to retail sales

Under retail cylinder exchange programs, propane is sold as a prepackaged product, and as a result, the labelling and accuracy requirements are subject to the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act.

Retail sales of propane in cylinders by weight, volume and flat rate are subject to the WMA.

5.2 Legislation applicable to non-retail sales

Non-retail sales of propane as part of cylinder exchange programs by weight, volume and flat rate are subject to the WMA.

5.3 Administration and enforcement

The WMA is administered and enforced by Measurement Canada.

The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act is administered and enforced by the Competition Bureau.

6.0 Statement of quantity

When propane is sold by weight or by volume, a written or printed statement of quantity must be provided to meet the requirements of section 9 of the WMA.

6.1 Commodities weighed and measured in the presence of the customer

Paragraph 46(a) of the Weights and Measures Regulations (WMR) exempts commodities weighed and measured in the presence of the customer from the statement of quantity requirement set out in section 9 of the WMA. However, this exemption does not apply to sales of propane by weight or volume, because customers are prohibited from entering the area where the propane is measured, and as a result, they are unable to see the quantity indications on the measuring equipment. Consequently, a written or printed statement of quantity must be provided to the customer.

6.2 Price of propane based on a unit of measurement

As required by subsection 48(3) of the WMR, when the price of propane is based on a unit of measurement, that same unit of measurement must be used to state the quantity (e.g., the statement of quantity must indicate kilograms (kg) when the propane is sold by $/kg, litres (L) when the propane is sold by $/L and pounds (lb) when the propane is sold by $/lb).

6.3 Exchange of prefilled propane cylinders at the retail level

Where retailers exchange prefilled propane cylinders for empty or partially filled ones, these prefilled cylinders are considered as standard quantity prepackaged products and are subject to the net quantity labelling requirements of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act. In these cases, an accurate net weight declaration must be clearly and prominently displayed on the principal display panel of the cylinder.

6.4 Sale of propane at a flat rate

Many retailers charge a flat rate to refill propane cylinders regardless of the amount of propane added. In most cases, when a receipt is issued, the capacity of the cylinder is stated rather than the quantity of propane added to the cylinders. Traders who use this method are not obliged to state the amount of propane added to the cylinder since the fee is for the service rather than the quantity of propane added.

7.0 Limits of error

  1. For sales of propane in cylinders by weight or volume, when the quantity of propane is measured at the time of sale, any quantity shortage in excess of the prescribed limits of error is a violation of sections 9 and 33 of the WMA.
    • The stated quantity must be accurate within the limits of error prescribed by section 49 of the WMR.
      • Subsection 49(1) of the WMR prescribes the limits of error in Schedule II of the WMR.
      • When propane is sold by volume and a propane meter is used to measure the volume of propane added to the cylinder, subsection 49(2) of the WMR prescribes a limit of error for the stated quantity of propane added of one and one-half times the prescribed in-service limits of error for the propane meter as outlined in section 268.
      • When the test standard or the test quantity specified in section 268 of the WMR is not known, the commodity limits of error prescribed by subsection 49(1) are used for the sale of propane on the basis of volume.
  2. For sales of propane through a cylinder exchange program, the stated weight must be accurate subject to the tolerances (limits of error) prescribed by subsection 38(2) of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations.
  3. For sales of propane cylinder refills for a flat rate regardless of the amount of propane added, there are no limits of error since there is no stated quantity.

8.0 Requirements for propane scales and meters

8.1 Scales and meters used to fill cylinders by weight or volume

8.2 Mandatory inspection frequencies

Propane scales and meters are subject to the following mandatory inspection frequencies:

9.0 Exemptions

9.1 Devices used as part of cylinder exchange programs

Propane scales and meters used exclusively to fill cylinders to the same net weight as part of a cylinder exchange program are exempt from approval, initial inspection and mandatory periodic inspections. They must also be marked "For Prepackaging Use Only" in accordance with subsection 23(2) of the WMR. Devices with this marking must not be used for any other trade measurement.

9.2 Scales and meters used to fill cylinders for a flat fee

Propane scales and meters used exclusively to fill propane cylinders for a flat fee are considered as not being used in trade, since the amount of propane added is not declared and has no bearing on the price. Therefore, these scales and meters are exempt from approval, initial inspection or mandatory periodic inspections and must be marked "Not Legal for Trade". If an approved scale or meter is used, it must be marked "Not for Use in Trade". Scales and meters with either of these markings must not be used to determine the quantity of propane sold or for any other trade measurement.

Scales and meters that are not marked are considered as being used in trade and are required to be approved and initially inspected, and are subject to mandatory periodic inspections.

10.0 Enforcement

Traders are responsible for ensuring that:

Failure to comply with these legal requirements may result in one of the following enforcement actions:

Enforcement action is taken when propane cylinders are under filled and the error is greater than the allowable limits of error.

11.0 Safety

This bulletin neither supersedes nor is intended to contradict or circumvent any other government or industry rules governing safety related to propane filling systems.

12.0 Revisions

The purpose of revision 7 was to:

The purpose of revision 6 was to:

Date modified: