Gas Station Sign Requirements


The federal government has but four requirements for gas station signs. Most signage requirements are adopted by state legislatures, county or municipal governments. The Federal Trade Commission requires the octane of the gasoline be displayed on each pump and that electric dispensing pumps be clearly labeled. The Internal Revenue Service and FTC both require signs on certain diesel fuel pumps that are exempt from federal taxes, mostly for agricultural use. And the Americans with Disabilities Act require that self-serve gas stations provide appropriate signage that patrons can obtain refueling assistance from attendants.

Fuel Octane Rating

  • Gas stations can call their various grades of fuel whatever they like -- premium, super, plus, regular -- but no matter the name the Federal Trade Commission requires that each pump has a sign indicating what level of octane it contains. Octane is a rating of its resistance to self-igniting when mixed with the chemical additive Heptane. It is not, as many believe, the higher energy it releases. For example, a mixture of 90% Octane and 10% Heptane has what the FTC calls a “standard resistance to spontaneously bursting into flame.” That resistance is given the value "90," for example. Gasoline labels must measure 3 inches wide by 2 1/2 inches long, printed in black ink on a yellow background. Alternative liquid automotive fuel labels must be printed in black ink on an orange background. Labels must be capable of withstanding extremes of weather conditions for a period of at least one year and resistant to fuel, oil, grease, solvents, detergents and water.

Electric Fuel Dispensing

  • If you sell electricity using an electric vehicle fuel-dispensing system, the rating of the electric vehicle fuel-dispensing system you use must be posted on the face of the dispenser. If you sell two or more kinds of fuels with different ratings from a single fuel dispenser, you must put separate labels for each kind of fuel on the face of the dispenser. The labels must be “conspicuously” placed in view of consumers and as close as possible to the price per unit of the fuel.

Non-Taxable Diesel Fuel

  • Dyed diesel fuel is not taxed because it is sold for uses exempt from excise tax, such as to farmers for agricultural purposes, to local governments for buses and for other off-road uses. Under IRS Title 26, U.S. Treasury Department regulation 48.4082-2, a “legible and conspicuous” sign must be posted on any retail pump that states “DYED DIESEL FUEL, NONTAXABLE USE ONLY, PENALTY FOR TAXABLE USE.” It is illegal to use dyed fuel for on-road travel.

The Americans with Disabilities Act

  • The ADA requires self-serve gas stations to provide equal access to their customers with disabilities, including refueling assistance if requested. Gas stations operated by remote control with a single employee are exempt. However, all other service stations must display appropriate signs, plainly visible to its patrons, that assistance for the disabled is available. Although the sign doesn't have to specify, the service must be provided without any additional charge above the normal price of the gasoline.


  • There are no federal notification requirements to alert motorists that there may be as much as 10 percent ethanol mixed into the gas. However, following recommendations established by the National Conference of Weights and Measures laws requiring motorists pumping gas all but 11 states, including the District of Columbia, do not require signage informing consumers that ethanol has been mixed with the gas they are about to pump into their vehicles. The rest of the states require some form of sign notifying customers that ethanol is in the gasoline, but the threshold at which they are required to make customers aware ethanol is present in the gas varies widely by state. Seven states require signage no matter the amount of ethanol. They are Alaska, California, Florida, Maine, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Wyoming requires the signs refer to the gas as Gasahol.


  • Photo Credit gas price sign image by itsallgood from
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