The City of Key West, Florida

The Southernmost City in the Continental United States


Elevation Certificates

Important: Don't make any marks, notes or highlights on an Elevation Certificate.  To do so invalidates the certificate and you may need to get a new one.

This site pertains only to properties located within the Key West city limits.  A number of islands outside the city use Key West addresses and zip codes but are not actually located in the city (e.g. Cudjoe, Rockland, Saddlebunch, Geiger, Big Pine, Big Coppitt, Sugarloaf etc.).  Questions regarding properties in those locations should contact: Mary Wingate, CFM - Senior Floodplain Coordinator; Monroe County Building Department 2798 Overseas Highway, Suite 300, Marathon, FL 33050 - 305-289-2866 -

 Elevation Certificate Example p1


Do I need one?

Does the City have one? 

Where can I get one?  

What does it tell me?

Do they expire?

What does an Elevation Certificate tell me?

Why are there different types of Elevation Certificates?

Do I need one?

For regulatory purposes, Elevation Certificates are usually required for:

  • New construction of structures within the regulated floodplain ("A" & "V" flood zones, not "X" zones)
  • Major renovations equating to a Substantial Improvement within the regulated floodplain (see Substantial Improvement web pages here).
  • Floodproofing projects for commercial buildings
  • Requesting a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) from FEMA, asking a lot be reclassified because its height is greater than the flood level for that area.

For insurance & other purposes:

  • If a building was built prior to 1975 (Pre-FIRM), new insurance reforms will likely require an Elevation Certificate, so the rates can be determined by exactly to what depth the building is below the flood line (BFE) for that location.
    • Due to a great number of property owners now needing Elevation Certificates, there may be a backlog to obtaining one.  Order early.
  • Floodproofing projects for commercial buildings
  • Lending institutions usually want one before finalizing a construction loan, to ensure the building it financed was properly erected above minimum flood levels.
  • Obtain a lower insurance rate, because your house is higher than the insurance company is giving you credit for.
    • For example, homes are sometimes rated as being at ground level (slab-on-grade), even though they may be a couple of feet higher on columns.  An Elevation Certificate will demonstrate the actual height of the building.

UPDATE (6/7/2016):  If your building was constructed prior to 1975, and it's not at ground-level, having an Elevation Certificate may lower your flood insurance rates.

These rates will continue to increase dramatically each year, until the subsidies for older homes are gone and the full rates are being charged. 

However, without an Elevation Certificate, FEMA doesn't know when you've reached the proper rate level for your building's height, because it doesn't know how high or low your building is elevated.  As a result, the rates will continue to rise, even after they probably should have stopped increasing.

If your Insurance Agent has placed an Elevation Certificate in your FEMA file, then the rates will automatically level-off when the proper rate is reached. 


Where can I get one:

Elevation Certificates must be completed by a Florida licensed land surveyor.  

Link to the State database of licensed land surveyors.

  • In the "Program" field, select "LS-Surveyor and Mapper" from the drop-down list.
  • In the "County" field, select "Monroe" from the drop-down list.

Typically, the cost for a single certificate runs somewhere between $250-400.  If you need more than one (multiple buildings or multiphase construction project), try to work out a package deal.

City staff can not make any recommendations regarding individual surveyors.

Does the City have one?

Maybe.  Elevation Certificates are routinely submitted for building permit approvals, and are public information. Currently there are about 1,300 such certificates on-file with the city. 

Elevation Certificates - Floodproofing Certificates - V-Zone Certifications - Letter of Map Amendments (LOMA)

Online Map to search online for flood certificates 


  • New certificates are uploaded weekly, so if one does't appear here it's likely the City doesn't have a copy.
  • Older certificates may be difficult to read or only contain the first page.  In those instances, the City doesn't posses a clearer copy nor additional pages.


What does an Elevation Certificate tell me?

  • What flood zone a building is located in.
  • The flood level for that location (Base Flood Elevation or BFE)
  • The lowest and highest points of the land next to the building, above sea-level.
  • Height of the Finish First Floor (A-zones) or Lowest Horizontal Cross-member (V-zones), above sea-level.
  • Height of the lowest piece of machinery (air-conditioning, electrical boxes etc) above sea-level.
  • Number and overall size of flood vents present in enclosed areas below flood level and garages.
  • It DOESN'T show the overall height of a building. If you need that measurement, ensure you make special arrangements with the land surveyor.
  • Tips:
    • If you have only the front page of an Elevation Certificate, it's usually considered incomplete.
    • Page two of the certificate, Section "D" often has important information in the "Comments" block.
    • An Elevation Certificate is only good for one building.  Each building, must have it's own certificate, if one is required.


Do Elevation Certificates expire?

Yes and no.

Technically, there's no expiration date on an Elevation Certificate.  However, when they're so old the information isn't relevant, then a new one may be required. Such as when a building has been reconstructed/elevated or demolished.  Sometimes, information required today didn't appear on the older style forms, and a new one will be necessary.

Usually, older Elevation Certificates remain useful for knowing what the height of a piece of land is above sea level, unless the landscape has changed.

While an expiration date appears in the upper right corner of Elevation Certificates, you can ignore that date; it's only relevent to expiration of the blank form. Even then, FEMA allows for the continued use of these forms after they've expired because a new form isn't ready; sometims this may take years. 

Why are there different types of Elevation Certificates?

While there is only one form, it's used for three different purposes.  Which is why multiple Elevation Certificates may be required for a single project.

Line C1 of the certificate shows three purposes:  Construction Drawings, Building Under Construction, Finished Construction.

Excerpt Line C1 - Elevation Certificate

  • Construction Drawings
    • Used during the plan review/approval phase, to establish the height of grade and proper elevation of the proposed building after construction.
  • Building Under Construction
    • Once the first floor of a new building has been placed or older building elevated, this type of certificate is required to demonstrate the building is at the proper height, before construction is completed and thus considerably less expensive to correct.
    • Construction shouldn't continue beyond the first floor until this second certificate has been reviewed and approved by the City's Floodplain Administrator.
  • Finished Construction
    • Required before a final Certificate of Occupancy or final inspection is approved.
    • All work on the building must be completed before the surveyor is charged with completing this certificate.
    • This is the necessary type of Elevation Certificate for insurance and mortgage purposes.  

Elevation Certificate Example (now outdated, but haven't yet received one on the new form)

Helpful tips:

  • Don't make any marks, notes or highlights on an Elevation Certificate.  To do so invalidates the certificate and you may need to get a new one.



Contact Us

Scott Fraser,
FEMA Coordinator
Building Department
1300 White St
Key West, FL 33040
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