11 Oct How to Quickly and Easily Get Your VA Loan Certificate of Eligibility
When it comes to VA loans, veterans of the United States Armed Forces United States have various options to choose from. For instance, there are a variety of loan and refinancing options available, better interest rates, and more affordable downpayments.
No matter what path you choose, you must first obtain your Certificate of Eligibility. The process of receiving the certificate is fairly straightforward, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. However, the process may vary depending on the person’s military status, country, and specific situation.
The purpose of this article is to provide an in-depth guide for individuals who serve in the United States Armed Forces on how to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility to be eligible for VA Home Loans.
VA Certificate of Eligibility: What You Need to Know
Veterans can now learn more and apply for their Certificate of Eligibility through the VA website. To get a Certificate of Eligibility, you can use the Order for Certificates of Eligibility (CE) or Form 26-1880, both of which are from the Department of Labor. They can be submitted via mail or email.
Alternatively, the information provided by WebLGY is also available for lenders who work with the VA to share with their borrowers and submit on their behalf. Considering this is the fastest and most convenient method of receiving loan information, it does not surprise us that many borrowers opt for this method.
Tip: Veterans and service members not already in the system must submit a copy of their military discharge papers as proof of their service as a member of the armed forces.
Check out our article on the VA loan types so you can make the right decision for you!
What Is a VA Loan Certificate of Eligibility?
An official document that states that an individual qualifies to receive benefits from the government is called a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). This document provides evidence of your eligibility for a VA home loan and acts as a formal guarantee of that eligibility. Among the contents of the COE document is information regarding your eligibility for a VA loan and the fees you may be required to pay to apply. The COE may also be used to verify your employment status in addition to determining your eligibility for the loan.
VA Home Loan applicants should be prepared to provide proof of their military service when applying through the VA System for a VA Home Loan. Although it may seem like the Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is causing problems, keep in mind that you are not required to have a COE before you apply for a VA home loan. It’s completely possible to receive an official VA pre-approval letter without having a copy of the COE yet.
However, either the lender or borrower must have an eligibility certificate before the loan can be financed and go to closing. There may also be delays (or even loan denial) if there are uncertainties regarding a veteran’s military status.
Here are the VA Loan Limits by State so you know how much house the VA will guarantee.
Who Needs a Certificate of Eligibility?
VA home loans and other benefits are not available to veterans unless they have obtained a Certificate of Eligibility. COEs are intended to assist you in getting the best loan for your situation.
Additionally, lenders use the COE to determine whether or not you are eligible for a loan based on your entitlement code. Your entitlement code, which is a one-time fee paid to the Department of Veterans Affairs directly, is required by lenders to determine the eligibility fee. The VA uses this information to decide if they need to charge you a VA funding fee based on your military service.
Here’s everything you need to know about VA Loan assumption.
One of the options available for obtaining a Certificate of Eligibility is to go through the online application process. Alternatively, you can print an application or apply directly on Veterans Affairs’ website.
A Certificate of Eligibility may also be available from your lender if they offer such a service. There is a possibility that not all lenders will be able to offer these financing options due to VA guidelines, though. If you wish to obtain a VA loan, you will need to inquire with your lender if they can do so.
Some lenders may not be able to obtain your Certificate of Eligibility on your behalf due to one or more of the following reasons:
- You’ve been through a previous foreclosure.
- You’ve been dishonorably discharged from the military.
- You are the surviving spouse of a veteran or service member.
Including your Certificate of Eligibility as a part of your proof of service form is highly recommended if you submit your confirmation of eligibility along with your proof of service form.
Veterans who enlisted after September 7, 1980, and were discharged less than two years after joining the military are required by the Department of Veterans Affairs to submit proof of service.
If you do not possess a copy of the DD Form 214, you can obtain a copy online. Prepare to be asked questions about your current living situation and when you served in the military.
What if I Don’t Meet the Minimum Requirements for a COE?
While you might not meet all of the minimum requirements to receive a COE, this does not mean you cannot get one anyway. If you were discharged because of hardship, convenience for the government, an early separation, reduction in force, or if there was evidence of a disability that was the cause for your discharge, you might still qualify for benefits.
What if I Received a Discharge Other Than Honorable, Bad Conduct, or Dishonorable Discharge?
A veteran who receives a discharge that falls short of honorable can apply for an upgrade to their release and be subject to examination according to the Veterans Administration’s Character of Discharge Criteria. If the veteran successfully gets a discharge change, they will apply for a COE and a VA loan.
Where Do I Get a VA Certificate of Eligibility?
Here’s exactly where to get your COE based upon your status.
How to Get Your COE as a Veteran
In most cases, getting a COE through the government’s automated system is the fastest and easiest way to get one—lenders can verify the veteran’s eligibility for a loan by using their Social Security number and date of birth.
Additional documentation may be required depending on the nature of your work and a variety of other factors. The DD-214, together with the Form DD-214, must be filled out by individuals who have served in the military and are entitled to receive a discharge or release from active duty.
As a general rule, it is recommended that veterans’ records contain the DD-214 member copy four from the Veteran’s service record since that copy contains the most detailed information regarding the Veteran’s service record. In the bottom right corner of the document, you can tell which version needs to be submitted.
How to Get Your COE as an Active Military Member
An official statement of service on proper military letterhead may be required from you when you are no longer on active service, including the following information:
- Veteran’s full name
- Social Security Number
- Date of birth
- Branch of service
- Active duty entry date
- Current date of separation
- Unit of assignment and current duty location
- Duration of lost time, if any
- Last discharge
- Type of discharge, and
- Name of the command providing the information
How to Get Your COE as a Current or Former National Guard or Reserve (Activated)
For Reserves and National Guard members, there is not a discharge document like those for other armed services members. You must submit evidence of your honorable service and the annual retirement points summary as part of the application process.
If you were a member of the Army or Air National Guard, also submit the duplicate NGB Form 22 or NGB Form 23 along with your request for separation and service record and paid statement of service.
How to Get Your COE as a Current or Former National Guard or Reserve (Never Activated)
Last but not least, a statement of service from the commander, adjutant, or personnel officer will be required if you are a member of the Guard or have recently separated from the Guard but have not yet been discharged.
The letter must include the following information:
- Full name
- The date you entered duty
- Total number of creditable years of service
- Duration of any lost time
- The name of the command providing the information
How to Get Your COE as a Discharged National Guard (Never Activated)
If you are a discharged former Guard member who did not serve on active duty, you will need your NGB-22, your National Guard records of service for each of your serving periods, and your NGB-23U (annual retirement points statement). If you need to obtain these documents, you can contact the Adjutant General’s Office of the National Guard of your state.
How to Get Your COE as a Discharged Reserves (Never Activated)
Whether or not you have been discharged from the Reserves or have never been activated, you will need the following documentation:
- A copy of your latest annual retirement points.
- A copy of your honorable service certificate.
How to Get Your COE as a Surviving Spouse Who Receives DIC
To qualify for Veteran’s Home Loan Benefits, the surviving spouse must have a copy of the veteran’s discharge papers (DD-214).
For survivors who were not married, you will need to fill out and submit a Request for Determination of Loan Guaranty Eligibility-Unmarried Survivor Spouses (VA Form 26-1817) if you receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
How to Get Your COE as a Surviving Spouse Who Does Not Currently Receive DIC
If you are not receiving DIC benefits, you will need to provide the following information:
- A completed Application for DIC, Death Pension, and Accrued Benefits (VA Form 21P-534EZ).
- A copy of your marriage license.
- A copy of the Veteran’s death certificate.
How to Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility
There are three ways in which you can obtain your Certificate of Eligibility:
- Through the Department of Veterans Affairs e-Benefits portal, you can apply online for your VA Certificate of Eligibility.
- Veterans who have located a VA-approved lender can electronically request their COE from their loan officer.
- For those applying by mail, VA Form 26-1880 should be used. To obtain a copy of this form, you can write to the following address:
Address: P.O. Box 100023,
Decatur, Georgia 30031
Online at the VA.gov Web LGY System
You can obtain a COE through the LGY Web platform, or you can contact the lender directly to get one.
Please note that if you intend to submit a VA Form 26-1880 by mail, you will need to fill out the form and mail it to the address provided on the form.
By visiting the eBenefits website, you will be able to obtain your Certificate of Eligibility (COE). If you already have login credentials, simply click the Login link. However, if you do not have login credentials, you will have to register to use this service.
Tip: You’ll need to allow a little more time to complete the application than if you applied online or through the Web LGY tool.
Contact the eBenefits Help Desk at 1-800-983-0937, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST), if you need assistance.
National Guard VA Loan Eligibility
A VA home loan will only be available for members of the National Guard or Reserves who have completed a minimum of six years of honorable service, mobilized for active duty for a minimum of 90 days, or were discharged from active duty due to a service-related disability.
Veterans who are not eligible for VA housing loan benefits may be able to take advantage of attractive terms offered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), a division of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Are National Guard Members Considered Veterans?
Members of the National Guard and Reserve who are called to active duty and who remain on active duty throughout their call will be classified as “veterans” under the current regiment, making them eligible for a wide range of benefits offered by the Veterans Administration.
The current law does not allow an individual who is a member of either the National Guard or Reserves but is not called to active duty to be considered a veteran.
How to Obtain Your COE in the National Guard
A Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the National Guard may be obtained by going through the following three steps:
- If you are looking to apply online for your VA COE, you can use discharge change from the Department of Veterans Affairs electronic benefits portal.
- Veteran-owned credit unions may be able to request electronic certificates of eligibility from their loan officers when they have found a lender who the VA approves.
- Veteran-owned credit unions can submit mail-in applications by completing VA Form 26-1880. Veterans are encouraged to send their VA Form 26-1880 to Post Office Box 100023.
Documentation You’ll Need to Present
|Who Are You?||Evidence|
|Veteran||Documents such as DD Form 214 (letters of discharge or separation).|
|Service member||Statement of service signed by your commander, your adjutant, or your personnel officer.|
|Current or former active National Guard or Reserve member||DD Form 214 (termination papers or discharge papers).|
|Current National Guard or Reserve member who has never been activated||Should present a statement of service signed by the commander, adjutant, or personnel officer.|
|Discharged National Guard member who was never activated||NGB Form 22 (Report of Separation and Service Record) for each service period and NGB Form 23 (Annual Retirement Points Statement and proof of Character of Service) for each service period.|
|Discharged Reserve member who was never activated||In the Reserves, with proof of honorable service to the Reserves, and a recent point statement.|
How Long Does It Take To Receive a COE?
How long it takes to receive a Certificate of Eligibility varies depending on how you apply. It may take several weeks for applicants who submit a COE application by mail to receive a reply. However, applicants who submit their application online or via their lender can receive a COE within minutes.
What Do I Do Once I Receive My Certificate of Eligibility?
To get approved for a VA loan, you must receive your Certificate of Eligibility, regardless of whether it was issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs or by your lender.
Your lender will work with you to get approved for a mortgage loan and go to closing once you have found your dream home.
Here’s a VA Loan calculator to help you with the process!
What Does a Certificate of Eligibility Look Like?
The Certificate of Eligibility is a simple document that provides essential information, including the following:
- Reference number for the VA certificate.
- Name of the Veteran or service member that the certificate pertains to.
- Social Security Number last four digits.
- Branch of service.
- Entitlement code.
Example of a Typical Certificate of Eligibility
How to Read a Certificate of Eligibility
In addition, when you receive your COE, you will find that it contains a range of information, such as your name, social security number, the branch of service with which you served, as well as the name of the VA employee that issued the COE to you.
Even though most of the points in this document are clear and straightforward, you may not be familiar with some of them. As a prospective borrower, one of the most commonly asked questions has to do with what is known as the entitlement code, which is one of the essential features of a VA loan.
To determine if you qualify for an exemption to the VA Funding Fee, an upfront cost that must be paid directly to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the VA utilizes this two-digit identification number to provide lenders with additional information about your military service history.
It is not required that this fee be paid by Purple Heart recipients, borrowers who receive compensation based on a service-connected disability, and surviving spouses and parents.
At the moment, 11 different VA entitlement codes can be used. The VA website explains these codes in more detail. In the majority of cases, VA entitlement codes are directly related to the period of military service. Veterans who have taken advantage of VA loan benefits in the past should be aware of Entitlement Code 05 because it may be vital for them.
Using this entitlement code, we can see that the borrower had previously acquired a VA loan, repaid the loan in full, and restored the entitlement that had once been used on the property. Unless the Certificate of Eligibility indicates, they are exempt from the VA funding fee upon future VA purchases. A borrower who has previously used a VA loan will have to pay an increased VA mortgage funding fee when they choose a VA mortgage in the future.
If you feel that this entitlement code is incorrect or have questions about it, contact your loan officer for assistance.
VA Certificate of Eligibility Home Loan FAQ
There are a lot of questions about the Certificate of Eligibility for VA loans. Here are some of the frequently asked questions we get.
Can I Get a COE as the Spouse of a Veteran?
It is possible for the surviving spouses of U.S. veterans to apply for Certificates of Eligibility if their spouse died in service, had a specific disability, is missing in action, is a prisoner of war, or has become disabled due to their military service. Couples that meet these eligibility criteria receive the entitlement code 05 when they meet the eligibility requirements.
If you are a surviving spouse, you will need your spouse’s discharge documents (if available) to apply for your Certificate of Eligibility. To apply for your Certificate of Eligibility, you must submit VA Form 26-1817 to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Suppose you do not receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation from the VA. In that case, you will be required to submit a VA Form 21P-534EZ along with a copy of your marriage certificate and a copy of your spouse’s death certificate.
Can I Get a COE in Any Other Situations?
If you do not qualify under any of the specific sections mentioned above for acquiring a VA home loan, you cannot get a Certificate of Eligibility.
Can I Use a COE I Used Before?
In some circumstances, you may be able to reuse your eligibility, depending on the circumstances. In most cases, you are eligible to apply for additional VA loans after you have paid off and/or sold your previous VA loan.
What if I Lose a Previously Issued Certificate of Eligibility?
If you need to replace your Certificate of Eligibility, you will find a link on the VA Department website that can be accessed by clicking the “Ask a Question” section. If you wish to request a replacement, you can send a secure email and a replacement will be sent to you.
Does the Certificate of Eligibility Guarantee That I’ll Get a VA Loan?
It’s true that your Certificate of Eligibility proves to lenders that you’re eligible for a VA loan, but it does not guarantee approval. A COE can be provided to the lender in order to permit the lender to review your loan for approval. However, this does not constitute an approval.
My Lender’s Automated System Can’t Determine My Eligibility. What Should I Do Now?
Most lenders can obtain a COE by simply entering the borrower’s personal information into the VA database. For verification purposes, however, a veteran’s discharge or separation papers may occasionally be required.
The lender can submit the required documents on behalf of the borrower to the VA. If you are a veteran, service member, or active/retired member of the National Guard or Reserve, you may need to present certain documents when you apply for a certificate of eligibility.
Does a Certificate of Eligibility Expire?
The certificates of eligibility for VA benefits do not expire. However, once you have been discharged from active duty, you will need a new COE if you obtained it while serving on active duty (your entitlement code will also change).
In addition, if you wish to use your VA benefits more than once, you will need a new Certificate of Eligibility to do so. For instance, if you owned a home, sold it, and now want to buy a new one, you will need to obtain a new COE that includes the entitlement code 05, which means that you are eligible for the program.