Elevation Certificates – What are they and when do you need one

Apr 3, 2023

Elevation Certificates

You may have heard the term “elevation certificate” (EC) used in conversation as a homeowner, but what does it mean, and why is it significant? A property’s elevation in relation to the base flood elevation (BFE), as calculated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is detailed in an elevation certificate. 

What is an elevation certificate?

An elevation certificate is a document that attests to a property’s elevation in relation to the base flood elevation as established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It is used to determine the flood risk for a particular property and calculate a property’s flood insurance premium and make sure the property complies with regional floodplain management regulations.

Who needs an elevation certificate?

According to FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps, an elevation certificate is normally necessary for properties situated in a Special Flood Hazard Area. Due to the increased risk of flooding in these places, mortgage lenders are required to acquire flood insurance. You can check your flood zone status on the FEMA website if you’re not sure if your property is in an SFHA. https://msc.fema.gov/portal/home

When is an elevation certificate required?

An elevation certificate is often required when a property is purchased, refinanced, or undergoing new construction or significant improvement. 

How do I get an elevation certificate?

To receive an elevation certificate, you must engage a licensed land surveyor or engineer to conduct the survey. Your property’s lowest floor will have its elevation measured by the surveyor, who will compare it to the base flood elevation of that map area. 

What information is included in an elevation certificate?

A property’s elevation certificate contains a range of details, such as:

  • The location and legal description of the property
  • Base flood elevation (BFE) and the flood zone
  • The finished flood elevation of the structure and the elevation of any utility equipment servicing the building.
  • Attributes of the building, including its type, size, and usage
  • Photos of the building


An elevation certificate is a crucial document for homeowners, particularly those who live in a flood plain. It offers crucial details regarding the elevation of your property and may have an impact on the cost of your flood insurance as well as any future construction or remodeling plans. It is a good idea to consult with your local floodplain management authority or visit FEMA’s interactive map if you are unsure whether you require an elevation certificate.


Summit Geomatics, Inc. is a professional land surveying firm headquartered in San Antonio, Texas. Summit Geomatics, Inc. is a small business created to serve Central and South Texas by providing quality land surveying to our clientele.


We are here to serve your project’s specific needs from rush real estate closings to GIS mapping solutions. Our experience and unique skill set allows us to serve you by providing geospatial solutions tailor made for your needs.