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How to Get a Flood Elevation Certificate

What is a flood elevation certificate?

If you live in a high-risk area for flooding and are purchasing flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you will almost certainly be required to provide an elevation certificate to complete your purchase.

An elevation certificate documents important features of your property, including its location, flood zone, building characteristics and, most importantly, the elevation of its lowest floor. The form is issued by the NFIP and used by insurance agents to determine your flood insurance premiums.

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How long does it take to get a flood elevation certificate?

When a licensed Professional Land Surveyor or Engineer are hired to perform an Elevation Certificate (EC), they are providing data which will determine if the structure located on the lot is at risk of flooding. If the EC results are favorable and the structure is located above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE), then a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) requesting that FEMA remove the property from the flood zone can be filed. 

There are 3 options for filing the form:

1. The property owner can file the form by printing out the application and mailing in the required documents to FEMA. This is a free service. It typically takes approximately 90 days for FEMA to process the information and reply.

2. The property owner can file the form online via They will be required to scan an upload several documents, including a copy of the EC, their deed, a copy of the subdivision plat, and a copy of the flood map, along with other additional items. This is a free service. It typically takes approximately 60 days for FEMA to process the information and reply.

3. The property owner can hire a FEMA approved Professional Land Surveyor or Engineer to file the information online via the eLOMA process. Fees vary from company to company, but typical fees are several hundred dollars. Once all of the required information has been submitted the results are immediate. If the file is selected for a random audit, it takes a minimum of 5 days to receive a final determination once all the additional documentation is provided to FEMA.

How much does it cost to get a flood elevation certificate?

An elevation certificate is provided by a licensed surveyor. You may have one in your closing documents. If not, check with the local building department to see if there is one in your permit file or check with the builder that sold you your property. If you are currently carrying flood insurance your insurance agent should have asked you for an elevation certificate to write your policy in the correct risk category. Ask them for a copy. If they do not have one ask them how they rated your premiums correctly.  

If you are still unsuccessful at locating an elevation certificate you will need to hire a local surveyor to provide the elevation certificate for you. The elevation certificate will help us determine if your property can be removed from the flood zone or, if your property cannot be removed from the flood zone it will allow your insurance agent to rate you accurately and give you the best rate. The average cost of an elevation certificate is $350.00 and while you may be hesitant to spend the money, you will save far more that you spend in the long run.

How does an Elevation Certificate affect flood insurance rates?

There is a correlation between how high your property is above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) and the actual cost of a flood policy. In a high risk zone, the higher your BFE, the lower your policy will most likely be. Conversely, the lower your BFE, the more your flood insurance policy will cost.

The higher your lowest floor is above the BFE, the lower the risk of flooding. Lower risk typically means lower flood insurance premiums.


See more flood insurance FEMA FAQ’s answers here:

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