How Do I Get a VA Certificate of Eligibility?

How Do I Get a VA Certificate of Eligibility?

If you’re a veteran wanting to buy a home, a VA loan might be the best option for you. This government-backed loan has zero percent financing and low-interest rates. Only qualified veterans, service members, and their surviving spouses are eligible for these benefits.

However, you must first obtain your VA certificate of eligibility before you can begin the application process.

In this article, we’ll discuss what a VA home loan certificate of eligibility is, how to get one, and how long it will take.

Read our article on VA loan eligibility!

What Is the VA Certificate of Eligibility?

Obtaining a certificate of eligibility (COE) is the first step in applying for a VA loan. The Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs and serves as proof that you fit the criteria for a VA loan. You won’t be able to get cheap VA loan rates or other perks until you have them.

You must fulfill the Department of Veterans Affairs’ service requirement to obtain a COE.

  • During peacetime, you have served in the US military for at least 181 days.
  • You’ve spent at least 90 days in the military during a conflict.
  • At least six years of service in the National Guard or military reserve.
  • You’re the surviving spouse of a service member who died while on duty or was affected by service-related disabilities.

It is necessary to meet either of these criteria to fulfill the service requirements. A COE (also known as Form 26-1880) verifies that you meet these standards and are therefore qualified for a VA loan. Veterans receiving VA disability payments aren’t required to serve.

Also Read: The Legal Definition of Veteran

Your Lender Can Help You Get the COE

The easy way to get your COE is to have your lender get it for you. If you have already identified an approved VA lender, your loan officer can request the COE electronically.

To get your COE using the VA’s Web-based application, known as Web LGY or the Automated Certificate of Eligibility (ACE) portal, your loan officer only needs your evidence of service. ACE does not have access to all COEs. If the VA’s database doesn’t have enough information about you, you’ll have to get your COE through other options.

Most VA mortgage lenders can produce an eligibility certificate on the spot if the system’s database contains adequate information.

Before buying a home, understand the different VA loan options available to you.

Ways to Get the VA Certificate of Eligibility Yourself

You’ll need the proper papers to apply for your COE. This includes your discharge or separation documents for veterans and former members of the National Guard or Reserves, as well as a statement of service signed by your commander, adjutant, or personnel officer for active-duty military, National Guard, or Reserves members.

Once you have the necessary documents, you can apply for your VA COE in several ways:

Online Through e-Benefits Portal

The VA eBenefits online system is the easiest and fastest method of obtaining your certificate of eligibility.

Send Form to Regional Loan Center by Mail

Print the COE request form from the VA, fill it out and mail it to the relevant regional loan center (the addresses are on the form). However, this option can be more time-consuming.

Check out our article to learn more about VA loan limits.

Things to Know About Getting the COE

To receive your Certificate of Eligibility, you will probably need to present a few documents to the government. Depending on your service history, the type of documentation you’ll need will differ. It’s best to gather all the paperwork you’ll need ahead of time to ensure a seamless transaction. Here’s all you’ll need.

Active Duty Military

To apply, active-duty members will need to submit a current statement of service which specifies:

  • Full name of the veteran
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security Number
  • Active duty entry date
  • Duration of lost time, if any
  • Branch of service
  • Rank
  • Current date of separation
  • Last Discharge
  • Type of Discharge
  • Unit of assignment and current duty location
  • Information provided by the command

Although there is no standard form or format for a statement of services, this round-up of information is expected. All correspondence should be on official military letterhead.

Learn more about VA loan assumption.

Discharged Veterans

Based on your service and other factors, you may be required to submit the DD-214, also known as Certificate of Release or Discharge.

In general, member copy 4 of the DD-214 is preferred since it contains the most detailed information on veterans’ enlistment. The bottom right corner of the document will indicate which copy you should submit.

Where can you obtain your DD-214? You can apply for a form online on this website provided by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Surviving Spouses

As a surviving spouse, you must first obtain Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefits before receiving a Certificate of Eligibility. If you are not currently receiving Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefits, you must complete VA Form 21P-534EZ, Survivors Pension, or Accrued Benefits.

If you’ve received Dependency and Indemnity Compensation funds, you will need to complete a Loan Guaranty Eligibility Request Form (VA Form 26-1817) for Unmarried Surviving Spouses. A copy of the Veteran’s DD-214 or equivalent approved separation paperwork will also be required.

Also Read: Determine Your Veteran Status

Provide Proof of Service

Lenders can frequently obtain a certificate of eligibility by entering the borrower’s personal information into the VA database. However, proof of service is required in other cases, such as a copy of the veteran’s discharge or separation papers.

Whether you’re a veteran, military member, current or retired National Guard or Reserve member, the types of documents you’ll need to submit to acquire a certificate of eligibility vary. According to the VA’s website, you’ll require the following items.

Determine Your Status Proof Required
Veteran Discharge or separation papers (DD Form 214)
Service member Signed statement of service from your commander or adjutant.
Active or former member of the National Guard or Reserve Discharge or separation papers (DD Form 214)
Never an activated member of the Reserves or National Guard Your commander, adjutant, or personnel officer should sign your statement of service.
An inactive member of the National Guard who has been discharged Each NGB Form 22 (report of separation and service record) must be enclosed with the NGB Form 23 (annual retirement points statement and proof of character of service).
Never activated Reserve member who was discharged The most recent retirement points statement and proof of honorable service.

*Source: U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

How Long Does It Take To Receive the Certificate of Eligibility VA?

If your eligibility is easy to verify, getting a COE can take as little as 30 days. However, if you can, apply early and give yourself six weeks to process.

In some cases, it can take a while to verify service and eligibility. For instance, VA can review your discharge if it is “less than honorable,” which can take up to a year. Allowing your lender to seek your COE is usually the easiest way to obtain it.

See how much your monthly mortgage payment could be with our VA loan calculator!

Contact Your Lender or the Regional Loan Center for Help Understanding Your COE

Call 1-877-827-3702 to speak with a VA Home Loan Representative.

The VA Home Loan toll-free number is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST.

Alternatively, you can also reach out to your respective regional loan center via email. Check out the point of contact list provided by VA.

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