Elevation Certificates: Who needs them and why

Floods mean rising water. Knowing your building’s elevation compared to the estimated height of floodwater helps determine your flood risk and the cost of your flood insurance.

An EC documents the elevation of your building for the floodplain managers enforcing local building ordinances and for insurance rating purposes.

How an EC is used

Elevation Certificates (ECs) help inform mitigation actions that will lower flood risk.

For example, the EC shows the location of the building, Lowest Floor Elevation, building characteristics, and flood zone.

An EC will no longer be required to purchase coverage under Risk Rating 2.0: Equity in Action. Instead, FEMA will use its tools and resources to determine the first-floor height of a building as one of the factors used when calculating rates. However, a property owner may choose to provide an EC and submit it to their agent to determine if it will lower their cost of insurance.

ECs will also continue to be used for floodplain management building requirements, which can affect eligibility for Community Rating System discounts.

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Did you know?

The BFE is the elevation that floodwaters are estimated to have a 1% chance of reaching or exceeding in any given year. The higher your lowest floor is above the BFE, the lower the risk of flooding. Lower risk typically means lower flood insurance premiums.

  • Under Risk Rating 2.0: Equity in Action, ECs will no longer be used for rating purposes. However, ECs help inform mitigation actions that will lower flood risk. They will also continue to be used for floodplain management building requirements, which can affect eligibility for Community Rating System discounts.

  • There are several ways to secure an EC for your home or business.

    First, ask your local floodplain manager if there is already one on file. Or check to see if an EC is included in the property deed. In a high-risk area, the developer or builder may have been required to get an EC at the time of construction.

    When buying a property, ask the sellers to give you their EC. If they don’t have one, ask if they can provide one before settlement.

    If you are unable to find an existing EC for your building, hire a licensed land surveyor, professional engineer, or certified architect who is authorized by law to certify elevation information. For a fee, these professionals can complete an EC for you.


Raise your elevation to lower your risk

Building code requirements may change over time as flood risk changes and maps are updated. If you are remodeling or rebuilding, consider elevating to lower your flood risk, which, in turn, can lower your flood insurance rates and reduce the financial impacts of flooding.