What is a flood map?

Flood maps show a community’s risk of flooding. Specifically, flood maps show a community’s flood zone, floodplain boundaries, and base flood elevation.

Property owners, insurance agents, and lenders can use flood maps to determine flood insurance requirements and policy costs.

With Risk Rating 2.0: Equity in Action, FEMA now has the capability and tools to address rating disparities by incorporating more flood risk variables like flood frequency, multiple flood types — river overflow, storm surge, coastal erosion, and heavy rainfall — and distance to a water source, as well as property characteristics such as elevation and the cost to rebuild. 

Because your flood risk changes over time, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) work with communities across the country to identify and map flood risk on an ongoing basis.

Flood mapping data will still be necessary and essential for communities because of the important role that the Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) serves for NFIP participating communities.

Additionally, Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) will continue to be used for mandatory purchase requirements, building code requirements, and floodplain management requirements, as they have always been the backbone of those programs, but will no longer be the most significant factor.

What does my flood zone mean?

Everyone lives in an area with some flood risk—it’s just a question of whether you live in a high-risk, low-risk, or moderate-risk flood area.

Flood zones are indicated in a community’s flood map. Each flood zone describes the flood risk for a particular area, and those flood zones are used to determine insurance requirements and costs.

Icon indicating more information
Know your property’s flood risk.

To find your community’s flood map, visit the Flood Map Service Center and search using your property’s address.

No matter where you live or work, some risk of flooding exists.

Learn more about your flood risk and secure the insurance protection you need to protect your home and financial security.

What are the moderate- to low-risk & high risk flood zones?

  • Moderate- to low-risk flood areas are designated with the letters B, C, and X on FEMA flood maps. In these areas, the risk of being flooded is reduced, but not completely removed. One in three insurance claims come from moderate- to low-risk flood areas.
  • High-risk flood areas begin with the letters A or V on FEMA flood maps. These areas face the highest risk of flooding. If you own a property in a high-risk zone and have a federally backed mortgage, you are required to purchase flood insurance as a condition of that loan.

Where can I learn more?

If you’re interested in how to read a flood map, learning how often flood maps change, of looking for information on how to change your flood zone designation visit FEMA’s Map Service Center.

Get answers to your flood map questions or talk with someone from FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center.