The requirements for permits and code compliance pertaining to propane gas and tank installation exist in some locales while in others they are non-existent. In many cases, the rules (NFPA 58) state that any additional and final control lies with "the authority having jurisdiction". Therefore, any requirement in addition to the national laws imposed by the state, county or municipality regarding propane must be adhered to.
All too often, propane consumers are surprised to learn that their propane tank requires a permit in order to continue in service within a municipality. This type of situation will occur when a code inspector happens upon the tank installation while performing duties associated with other code compliance issues. For instance, a couple hires a contractor to build an addition onto an existing house. During the construction process, the city building inspector comes to the review the progress and assure that the addition conforms to local building codes. During the visit, the inspector discovers an underground propane tank and upon review, determines that there are no permits on the tank. Not only does the inspector asses a fine for the non-permitted tank, but requires the tank to be unearthed so that it can be inspected. This is never an enjoyable aspect of home ownership but it does happen.
Underground Propane Line Permits and Requirements - Look at permits from a safety perspective. Neighborhoods all have underground utilities running from house to house. These gas, power, and communication lines are all permitted at the time they are installed. A record of these underground utilities is kept so that if digging or trenching is performed in the future, damage to the existing utility lines is avoided. Propane gas yard lines are required to be installed underground and some municipalities will require a permit for this yard line for the same reason the other underground utility lines are required to have permits. Accidentally trenching through an underground propane yard line (pictured below) will often be more expensive to repair than paying for the required permit in the first place.
Propane Tank Permits and Requirements - Another safety related perspective concerning propane permits is the actual location of the propane tank itself. Many fire departments will require permits for propane tanks that are installed in their jurisdiction. These permits are generally submitted with a drawing, description and any applicable fees. Like underground propane lines and trenching as described above, the location of the propane tank needs to be known by the fire department. Imagine an unfortunate event such as a fire breaking out at a home. Tthere was an underground propane tank that had been installed at the home in a nondescript location behind some landscaping. It would be far better than not for the fire department to know about that propane tank in the event it needed to be turned off at the service valve. If nothing is on file for this propane tank (that should have been), the damage could potentially be far worse because the fire department knew nothing about it.
The above described permits required for propane are not completely inclusive as permitting requirements vary from state to state and town to town. It's far better to know about the requirements regarding propane before tank installations occur than after the fact. Ask your propane company about permits as they'll usually handle this aspect of the installation and file all required paperwork. You can also contact the city code compliance office to ensure that all necessary gas permits and requirements are adhered to before the propane tank installation takes place.