This page provides procedural information regarding the Stafford Act declaration process and is intended for emergency managers, elected officials, media, and stakeholders interested in the formal declaration process. All emergency and major disaster declarations are made solely at the discretion of the President of the United States.
The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5207 (the Stafford Act) §401 states in part that: "All requests for a declaration by the President that a major disaster exists shall be made by the Governor of the affected State." A State also includes the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The Republic of Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia are also eligible to request a declaration and receive assistance through the Compacts of Free Association.
As a result of the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act, federally recognized Indian tribal governments now have the option of pursuing a declaration directly from the President. FEMA has developed Tribal Declarations Pilot Guidance, which provides more detailed and specific guidance for Tribal requests.
FEMA has codified the declaration process at 44 C.F.R. Part §206, Subpart B.