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How To Get A VA Certificate Of Eligibility

Molly Grace3-minute read

September 19, 2022

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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.

But before you can begin the application process, you need to receive your VA certification 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 service member or surviving spouse. You can receive this form from the Veterans Administration. 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 veterans, current service members on active duty, National Guard and Reserve members, and qualifying spouses. However, the requirements differ depending on whether you served during peacetime or active wartime.

And they also change if you were discharged due to a service-related disability. Here is an overview of each of these 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 disabilityamong other VA requirements for a spouse. However, you most likely won’t qualify if you’re remarried.

  • Native American Direct Loan: The NADL program helps Native American veterans that live on federal trust land to obtain a mortgage. To be eligible for the NADL program, you’ll need to meet the above requirements and receive your COE. Your tribal government will also need a Memorandum of Understanding agreement that outlines how the program will work on the reservation land.

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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 entitlement is the amount the VA is willing to guarantee if you default on the loan. It also helps determine whether or not you’ll have to pay the VA funding fee. The VA funding fee is a one-time fee you’ll pay to the VA.

FAQ: 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 service VA loans.

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

  • Copy of discharge or separation papers (for veterans and current or former National Guard and Reserve)
  • Statement of service signed by your commander, adjutant, or personnel officer (for active duty service members and current or former National Guard and Reserve)
  • 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)
  • Copy of your latest annual retirement points (for discharged Reserve)
  • Proof of honorable service (for discharged Reserves)

My lender said it’s unable to request a VA COE for me. Why not?

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 can 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. And VA COEs are specifically for home loans and don’t apply to other VA-related benefits.

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. To learn more about VA loans, be sure to talk with a Loan Expert at Rocket Mortgage®.

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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.