In situations where a property owner thinks their property was inadvertently mapped in a high-risk flood area, also known as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) on a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), also known as a flood map, FEMA provides a process for the public to request a change in the flood zone designation for the property. This request is know as a Letter of Map Change (LOMC).
Overview of Maps and Map Change Processes for Properties
As part of its administration of the National Flood Insurance Program, FEMA publishes flood hazard maps, called Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). The purpose of a FIRM is to show the areas in a community that are subject to flooding and the risk associated with these flood hazards. One of the areas shown on the FIRM is a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). The SFHA is the area that has a 1-percent or greater chance of flooding in any given year; this area is also referred to by some as the 1-percent-annual-chance floodplain, base floodplain or the 100-year floodplain. The flood hazard and risk information presented on the FIRMs is the result of engineering studies that are performed by engineering companies, other federal agencies or communities, which are reviewed for compliance with FEMA guidelines and approved by FEMA.
FEMA uses the most accurate flood hazard information available and applies rigorous standards in developing the FIRMs. However, because of limitations of scale or topographic definition of the source maps used to prepare a FIRM, small areas may be inadvertently shown within an SFHA on a FIRM even though the property (legally defined parcel(s) of land, structure[s]) is on natural ground and is at or above the elevation of the 1-percent-annual-chance flood. This elevation is most commonly referred to as the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). Such cases are referred to as "inadvertent inclusions."
For other small areas, earthen fill may have been placed during construction, thereby elevating a small area within the SFHA to an elevation that is at or above the BFE. This construction may have taken place during the time the engineering study was being performed or subsequent to that study. Because of the limited extent of the elevated area and the limitations of the map scale, it may not have been possible for FEMA to show this area as being outside the SFHA and so these areas have been incorrectly included in the SFHA on the FIRM.
Recognizing that these situations do occur, FEMA established administrative procedures to change the designation for these properties on the FIRM. These processes are referred to as the Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) process and the Letter of Map Revision-Based on Fill (LOMR-F) process. Through these processes, an individual who owns, rents or leases property may submit certain mapping and survey information to FEMA and request that FEMA issue a document that officially removes a property and/or structure from the SFHA. In most cases, the applicant will need to hire a Licensed Land Surveyor or Registered Professional Engineer to prepare an Elevation Certificate for the property. Upon receiving a complete application forms package through mailing a paper form or through the Online LOMC application, FEMA will normally complete its review and issue its determination in 60 days.
Change my Flood Zone Designation
If a property owner thinks their property has been inadvertently mapped in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), they may submit a request to FEMA for a Letter of Map Change (LOMC). An SFHA is defined as the area that will be inundated by the flood event having a 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. A LOMC reflects an official revision/amendment to an effective Flood Insurance Rate Map. If the LOMC request is granted, property owners may be eligible for lower flood insurance premiums or the option to not purchase flood insurance.
Applicants can now use the Online LOMC, an internet-based tool, to easily request a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA). A LOMA is a letter from FEMA stating that an existing structure or parcel of land - that is on naturally high ground and has not been elevated by fill - would not be inundated by the base flood. This new tool is a convenient way for applicants to upload all information and supporting documentation and check the status of their application online. Users can submit LOMA requests through this tool instead of filing the MT-EZ paper form via mail.
Get started today using the new Online LOMC application.
The regulatory requirements for the Letter Of Map Amendment (LOMA) process are documented in Part 70 of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) regulations. The regulatory requirements for the Letter of Map Revision-Based on Fill (LOMR-F) process are documented in Part 65 of the NFIP regulations. Individuals who are interested in reviewing these regulations may view or download them from the Guidance Documents and Other Published Resources page of the FEMA Website.
FEMA has prepared guidance documents to assist citizens with their Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) and Letter of Map Revision-Based on Fill (LOMR-F) applications and submittals:
- The MT-EZ Form is to be used for LOMA requests involving a single residential lot or structure.
- The MT-1 Forms package and the Online LOMC application is to be used for LOMA requests involving multiple residential lots or structures and for all LOMR-F requests.
Links to these guidance documents are provided in the "Related Links" section on the upper right-hand side of this page. The forms provide step-by-step instructions for requesters to follow and are comprehensive, ensuring that the requesters' submittals are complete and logically structured. Use of these forms allows FEMA to complete its review quicker and at lower cost to the NFIP. While completing the forms may seem burdensome, the advantages to the requesters outweigh any inconvenience.
LOMA Determination Requirements
- LOMA Requests Involving One or More Structures: For a LOMA to be issued by FEMA to remove one or more structures from the SFHA, the NFIP regulations require that the lowest adjacent grade (the lowest ground touching the structure) be at or above the BFE.
- LOMA Requests Involving One or More Lots: For a LOMA to be issued by FEMA to remove one or more entire lots from the SFHA, the NFIP regulations require that the lowest point on the lot(s) must be at or above the BFE.
- Review and Processing Fee: There is no review and processing fee for the FEMA review of a LOMA request.
- Required Information: The requester is responsible for providing all of the information needed for FEMA's review of the request, including elevation information certified by a Licensed Land Surveyor or Registered Professional Engineer. For a complete listing of the information that must be submitted in support of a LOMA request, please refer to the MT-EZ (for single lot/structure requests), MT-1 application forms package, or visit the Online LOMC application.
LOMR-F Determination Requirements
- LOMR-F Requests Involving One or More Structures: For a LOMR-F to be issued by FEMA to remove the structure from the SFHA, the NFIP regulations require that the lowest adjacent grade of the structure be at or above the BFE. The participating community must also determine that the land and any existing or proposed structures to be removed from the SFHA are "reasonably safe from flooding."
- LOMR-F Requests Involving One or More Lots: For a LOMR-F to be issued by FEMA to remove the entire lot and structure, both the lowest point on the lot and the lowest floor of the structure must be at or above the 1-percent-annual-chance flood elevation.
- Review and Processing Fee: FEMA charges a fee for the review and processing of LOMR-F requests. A link to the current fee schedule is provided in the "Related Links" section on the upper right-hand side of this page.
- Required Information: As with LOMA requests, the requester is responsible for providing all supporting information, including elevation information certified by a Licensed Land Surveyor or Registered Professional Engineer. For a complete listing of the information that must be submitted in support of a LOMR-F request, please refer to the MT-1 application forms package or visit the new Online LOMC application web page.
Difference Between the eLOMA and Online LOMC
The eLOMA tool is a web-based application that provides licensed land surveyors and professional engineers (Licensed Professionals or LPs) and other FEMA approved Certified Professionals (CPs) with a system to submit LOMA requests that are not considered to be within a coastal zone (Zone V), an alluvial fan, or modified by fill to raise the elevation of the structure to FEMA. The eLOMA tool is designed specifically for registered users to generate a determination from FEMA within minutes of submitting required information and data for the request. For more information on the eLOMA tool, visit the eLOMA page and eLOMA Factsheet.
The Online LOMC tool is available to any applicant who would like to submit a LOMC request directly to FEMA and does not require a surveyor or engineer to submit. All types of LOMC requests are accepted in the Online LOMC tool and applicants may check the status of their application at any time. A determination resulting from information submitted via Online LOMC is not received until after FEMA reviews the supporting documentation and receives payment (if required). This process may take up to 60 days for amendment applications and up to 90 days for revision applications. For more information on the Online LOMC tool, visit the Online LOMC page.
Using eLOMA to Expedite Simple LOMA Requests
To make submitting LOMA requests quicker and easier, FEMA created the electronic Letter of Map Amendment (eLOMA) tool— a web-based application that provides licensed land surveyors and professional engineers (Licensed Professionals or LPs) and other FEMA approved Certified Professionals (CPs) with a system to submit LOMA requests that are not considered to be within a coastal zone (Zone V), an alluvial fan, or modified by fill to raise the elevation of the structure to FEMA. The eLOMA tool is designed specifically for registered users to generate a determination from FEMA within minutes of submitting required information and data for the request.
Effect of LOMA or LOMR-F on Flood Insurance Requirements
The issuance of a LOMA or LOMR-F eliminates the federal flood insurance purchase requirement as a condition of federal or federally backed financing; however, the mortgage lender retains the prerogative to require flood insurance as a condition of providing financing, regardless of the location of a structure. The purchase of a flood insurance policy is wise even if a structure is located outside the SFHA. More than 25 percent of flood claims are made by property owners located outside the SFHA. The issuance of a LOMA or LOMR-F does not mean the structure or lot is safe from all flooding; it means that the risk of flooding is not as high as it is in the SFHA. Events greater than the 1-percent-annual-chance event can and do occur. It is also to important to note that the flood insurance premium rate for structures located outside the SFHA are lower than the premiums for structures located in the SFHA.
To learn more about flood insurance and receive other answers to questions about the NFIP, please visit Answers to questions about the NFIP.
- How to Create a FIRMette
- Elevation Certificate
- Flood Proofing Certificate (FEMA Form 81-65)
- Standard Flood Hazard Determination Form
- LOMA and LOMR-F Tutorial Series
Answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions are provided for the following user groups: homeowners, engineers, surveyors and architects, insurance professionals and lenders and floodplain managers.
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