Military Dad With Two Sons

How To Get A VA Certificate Of Eligibility

Molly Grace4-minute read

May 16, 2023


If you’re a veteran looking to buy a home, taking out a VA loan could be an excellent option for you. This government-backed loan comes with low interest rates and 100% financing. VA home loans are an excellent way to buy a home with zero money down, but you’ll also need to meet mortgage lender qualifications, including their minimum credit score and debt-to-income ratio (DTI).

Before you can begin the application process, you need to receive your VA Certificate of Eligibility (COE). A COE is a document that shows your mortgage lender that you’re eligible for a VA loan.

What Is A VA Certificate Of Eligibility?

To obtain a VA loan, you’ll need to receive a VA Certificate of Eligibility which verifies your status as a qualifying veteran, service member or surviving spouse. You can receive this form from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. A COE proves to your lender that you meet the requirements to take out a VA loan.

Who Qualifies For A Certificate of Eligibility?

VA loans are offered to military service members including veterans, active duty service members, National Guard and Reserve members, and qualifying spouses. However, the requirements differ depending on whether you served during peacetime or active wartime.

Requirements also change if you were discharged due to a service-related disability. Here is an overview of each of these eligibility requirements:

  • Veterans: You’re eligible if you’ve served for at least 90 days during active wartime or 181 days during peacetime. However, you don’t need to meet these requirements if you were discharged due to a service-related disability.
  • Current service members: If you’re currently on active duty, you’re eligible for a COE if you’ve served at least 90 days continuously.
  • National Guard and Reserve: You’re eligible for COE if you did at least 90 days of active duty or 6 years of honorable service. In addition, you’ll qualify if you’ve had 90 days of service under Title 32 and at least 30 days were consecutive.
  • Surviving spouses: If you’re the surviving spouse of someone who died in service, you may be eligible for a COE. To qualify, the veteran must have either died in service or from a service-related disability, among other VA requirements for a spouse

See What You Qualify For


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Why Are Certificates Of Eligibility Necessary For VA Home Loans?

Without a COE, your lender cannot verify that you qualify for a VA loan. And according to your Certificate of Eligibility, you have a certain amount of entitlement, but what exactly does that mean?

Your VA loan entitlement is the amount the VA is willing to guarantee if you default on the loan. It also helps determine whether you’ll have to pay the VA funding fee. The VA funding fee is a one-time fee you’ll pay to the VA each time you close on a VA loan

FAQs: VA Loan Certificate of Eligibility

Where do I get a VA Certificate of Eligibility?

You can apply for a VA COE online or by printing out the request form. You can also work directly with your lender to approve VA COE requests, though not all lenders are VA-approved lenders or service VA loans.

It’s recommended that borrowers provide proof of service when applying for a COE. That includes the following documentation:

  • Copy of form DD-214 (discharge or separation proof for veterans and current or former National Guard and Reserve members)
  • Statement of service signed by your commander, adjutant, or personnel officer (for active duty service members and current or former National Guard and Reserve members)
  • Report of Separation and Record of Service for each period of service (for discharged National Guard)
  • Retirement Points Statement and proof of the character of service (for discharged National Guard members)
  • Copy of your latest annual retirement points (for discharged Reserve members)
  • Proof of honorable service (for discharged Reserve members)

My lender said it’s unable to request a VA COE for me. Why?

Here are a few reasons your lender may not be able to request a COE:

  • You’re a surviving spouse
  • You received a discharge other than honorable
  • You’re in the Reserves or National Guard
  • You’ve had foreclosures in the past

How long does it take to receive a VA COE?

It can take up to 6 weeks to receive a COE after you’ve submitted all the documentation and provided the relevant information. If you submit your VA COE through your lender or your eBenefits portal, you could receive it within minutes. You may get approved for a VA loan as soon as you receive your COE.

Does a VA Certificate of Eligibility expire?

A VA COE doesn’t expire, but there may be a situation where you need to update or receive a new COE. For instance, if you received your COE while on active duty, you may need to update it after discharge.

Does having a COE guarantee my VA loan approval?

Unfortunately, having a VA COE doesn’t guarantee VA home loan approval. A COE only authorizes your lender to review your VA loan application. Keep in mind VA COEs are specifically for home loans and don’t apply to other VA-related benefits.

Do I need a COE for a Native American Direct Loan?

Yes, you’ll need a COE to be eligible for the Native American Direct Loan (NADL) program. The NADL program helps Native American veterans who live on federal trust land obtain a mortgage. Your tribal government will also need a Memorandum of Understanding agreement that outlines how the program will work on the reservation land.

The Bottom Line: Apply For Your Certificate Of Eligibility

Before you can apply for a VA loan, you’ll need to receive your VA COE. Your COE shows that you meet the service requirements, and it’s the first step toward buying a house with a VA loan. Check out our VA loan application so you can make sure you have everything you need to apply.

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Molly Grace

Molly Grace is a staff writer focusing on mortgages, personal finance and homeownership. She has a B.A. in journalism from Indiana University. You can follow her on Twitter @themollygrace.