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How To Get A VA Certificate Of Eligibility

Molly Grace3-minute read

December 09, 2020

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If you’re eligible for a VA loan or a Native American Direct Loan (NADL), part of the approval process will require you to present a certificate of eligibility (COE) to your lender.

VA-backed loans come with lots of great benefits, including no minimum down payment, no mortgage insurance and good mortgage rates. If you can get one, they’re a great option for home buyers and owners.

Read on to learn about how to access your COE.

Assess Your Eligibility

VA loans are made available to veterans, current servicemembers on active duty, National Guard and Reserve members and qualifying surviving spouses. There are specific length of service requirements depending on when you served.

Veterans

If you served during wartime, you’ll generally be eligible for a COE if you served at least 90 total days of active duty service. If you were discharged for a service-connected disability, you don’t need to meet the 90-day requirement.

If you served during peacetime, you’ll need to have served for at least 181 continuous days, or less than this if you were discharged for a service-connected disability.

Current Servicemembers

If you’re on active duty now, you’ll need to have served for at least 90 continuous days before you’ll be eligible for a COE.

National Guard And Reserve

You’re eligible for a COE if you served at least 90 days of active duty or if you’ve completed 6 years of honorable service.

Surviving Spouses

If you were married to someone who died in service, you may be able to get a COE.

To be eligible, the veteran must have either died while in service or from a service-connected disability, or be missing in action or a prisoner of war. You typically can’t have remarried to qualify for a COE.

NADL Eligibility

The NADL program allows Native American veterans (or veterans with Native American spouses) who live on federal trust land to obtain a mortgage.

To get an NADL, you’ll need a COE, which you can get if you meet the requirements listed above. Your tribal government will also need to have a Memorandum of Understanding agreement with the VA that details how the program will work on the reservation land.

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Collect What You’ll Need

Often, the best method of obtaining a COE is to request one through your mortgage lender. Most lenders have access to a VA database that allows them to pull up your COE instantly.

However, if the VA doesn’t have your information in this database, you can apply for a COE yourself through the VA’s eBenefits portal. You can also apply by mail. Surviving spouses must apply by mail.

Here are some things you might need for your application, based on your type of service, according to the VA.

Veterans

  • Copy of discharge or separation papers

Active Duty Servicemembers

  • Statement of service signed by your commander, adjutant or personnel officer

Current Or Former National Guard Or Reserve (Activated)

  • Copy of discharge or separation papers

Current Or Former National Guard Or Reserve (Never Activated)

  • Statement of service signed by your commander, adjutant or personnel officer

Discharged National Guard (Never Activated)

  • Report of Separation and Record of Service for each period of service
  • Retirement Points Statement and proof of the character of service

Discharged Reserves (Never Activated)

  • Copy of your latest annual retirement points
  • Proof of honorable service

Surviving Spouse

For surviving spouses who receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC):

  • The veteran’s discharge documents (if available)
  • Request for Determination of Loan Guaranty Eligibility – Unmarried Surviving Spouses form

For surviving spouses who don’t receive DIC benefits:

  • The veteran’s discharge documents (if available)
  • Application for DIC, Death Pension and/or Accrued Benefits form
  • Copy of your marriage license
  • The veteran’s death certificate

Choose A Lender

Whether you obtain your COE through your lender or apply for one yourself, getting this certificate is only a part of the process of getting a VA loan, and it doesn’t guarantee your approval; all a COE does is let lenders know that you meet service requirements for this type of loan.

As you begin the purchase or refinance process, you’ll want to shop around to find a lender who understands the VA loan process, offers good rates and meets your needs.

Speak With Your Lender

Your lender is there to help guide you through the mortgage approval process, and that includes helping to confirm your eligibility for the VA loan program. Be sure to ask if they can pull up your COE for you – it can make the process much easier and quicker for you.

Your lender can also help you understand your COE, such as whether you’re exempt or not from the funding fee and what your entitlement is.

If you’re interested in learning more about Rocket Mortgage’s® VA loan offerings, get in touch with one of our Home Loan Experts.

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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.