U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Coastal Barrier Resources System
Ecological Services

CBRS Documentation for Federal Flood Insurance and Other Purposes

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is responsible for maintaining the official John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) maps. Within the CBRS, most new Federal expenditures and financial assistance, including Federal flood insurance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), are prohibited. Click here for general information on CBRA’s prohibitions on Federal expenditures. Click here for additional information on the prohibition of Federal flood insurance within the CBRS. Federal agencies may require documentation indicating whether or not a property or project site is within the CBRS before they approve Federal funding or financial assistance in areas that contain CBRS units. The Service provides two ways (described below and in this PDF fact sheet) for Federal agencies and others to obtain such documentation.


NFIP Communities Affected by CBRA

FEMA's Flood Insurance Manual requires that buildings within communities that contain System Units or Otherwise Protected Areas of the CBRS have documentation from the Service (through either the CBRS Validation Tool or CBRS Property Determinations process described below) in order to establish eligibility for flood insurance. The list of affected communities is available here.


CBRS Validation Tool

The "CBRS Validation Tool" is an automated tool accessible through the CBRS Mapper that allows any user (e.g., surveyors, property owners, insurance agents, real estate agents, Federal agencies, etc.) to select a particular location and produce a document entitled “CBRS Mapper Documentation” which indicates whether that location is within or outside of the CBRS. For locations within the CBRS, the documentation produced by the tool indicates the flood insurance prohibition date and the System Unit establishment date (where applicable). This documentation can be used to either obtain flood insurance through the NFIP for eligible structures or to otherwise document a location’s status within or outside of the CBRS for other purposes (e.g., real estate transactions or applications for Federal financial assistance).

Please note that the CBRS Validation Tool will not provide in/out CBRS documentation for locations that are within the “CBRS Buffer Zone” (i.e., areas within about 20 feet of a CBRS boundary). Such locations require a “CBRS Property Determination” letter from the Service (see below for additional information).

Note: Please read the User Guide (4MB PDF) for the CBRS Validation Tool prior to using.


CBRS Property Determinations

A "CBRS Property Determination" is an official letter from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) that indicates whether a specific property or project site is located within or outside of the CBRS. As of December 1, 2018, the Service will only provide such determinations for properties that are within 20 feet of a CBRS boundary (i.e., areas within the “CBRS Buffer Zone” depicted in the CBRS Mapper). This includes structures bisected by the boundary. All other locations should be verified using the “CBRS Validation Tool” described above.

The Service's determination is based upon materials provided by the requester and the official CBRS map of the area. The Service's response letter contains an in/out determination and the prohibition date for Federal flood insurance if the property is located within the CBRS.

What Materials are required for a CBRS Property Determination?

In order for the Service to make a property determination, the requester should submit a valid address along with the output from the CBRS Validation Tool indicating that the location is within the CBRS Buffer Zone. The requestor should also submit any additional documentation necessary to help the Service positively confirm the location of the property, such as a map showing the location of the property, a property record card, survey, deed, and/or elevation certificate.

How do I Request a CBRS Property Determination?

All interested parties, except insurance agents, may submit property determination requests for locations within the CBRS Buffer Zone directly to the Service’s Headquarters Office at CBRAdeterminations@fws.gov. Insurance agents should send requests for CBRA determinations to NFIP Direct, or the NFIP Write Your Own insurer to whom the application for flood insurance coverage is being made. The insurer will send the request to the NFIP Bureau & Statistical Agent, who will in turn submit the case to the Service for an official determination.

Is there an appeals process for CBRS determinations?

There is not an official appeals process, however, interested parties may submit new information to the Service at CBRAdeterminations@fws.gov and ask for a reevaluation of the case if they believe a CBRS determination is incorrect. If the location of the property has been correctly determined in relation to the CBRS boundary, then the Service's determination will not be changed.


Relevant FEMA links:

Last updated: November 6, 2019