How to Get a VA Certificate of Eligibility:
If you qualify for a VA loan, you can obtain a mortgage without needing a down payment or having to pay for mortgage insurance. However, you need to apply for a VA loan certificate of eligibility (COE) before you can apply for the loan.
What is a VA certificate of eligibility (COE)?
A VA loan certificate of eligibility (COE) is the first step toward getting a VA loan. The COE is provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and serves as evidence that you meet the VA loan requirements to be eligible for funding. Without it, you won’t be able to take advantage of VA loan rates and other benefits.
VA Certificate of Eligibility Requirements?
- If you are on active duty now, you need to have served at least 90 continuous days.
- For veterans, the service requirements are a bit more complex, varying from 90 days of active duty to 24 continuous months. Your discharge status is also a factor. To determine if you meet the requirements, review the VA’s standards.
- For National Guard or Reserve members who served between August 2, 1990 to present, you need to have served at least 90 continuous days on active duty. If you served prior to August 2, 1990, review the VA standards above.
- Surviving spouses might also qualify for a COE under certain circumstances: Your spouse must either be missing in action or a prisoner of war, or died in service or of a service-related disability, and you can’t have remarried before December 16, 2003 or before your 57th birthday.
There are three main options for getting your certificate of eligibility:
- Apply online: The VA eBenefits online portal is the easiest and fastest route to get your certificate of eligibility.
- Ask your mortgage lender: If you know which VA lender you’d like to work with, you can ask the lender for help obtaining your COE.
- Apply via mail: You can print out the VA’s COE request form, complete it and mail it to the appropriate regional loan centre (the addresses are on the form). Keep in mind that this option will take additional time.
How to get a VA loan certificate of eligibility
To get a VA Certificate of Eligibility, you’ll need to meet some key requirements. These vary based on your status (active duty or veteran), the period of time you served and your discharge status.
If you are currently active, you’ll need a statement of service signed by your commander, adjutant or personnel office that includes your name, your Social Security number and date of birth. It’ll also need to document the day you started your service, any lost time and the name of the command providing the information.
If you are a veteran, you’ll need your discharge or separation papers (DD214).
If you are a discharged member of the National Guard or Reserves and were never activated, you’ll need to meet a few other requirements in order to document your eligibility. Check the VA’s complete list of what you need for your application.
Surviving spouses also have some additional paperwork. You’ll need to complete the VA’s Request for Determination of Loan Guaranty Eligibility–Unmarried Surviving Spouses form. Then, you’ll need to track down your spouse’s military records, which you can do via the National Archives; a copy of your marriage license; and a copy of your spouse’s death certificate.
VA Certificate of Eligibility FAQs
How to read a VA Certificate of Eligibility
Most of the information on your VA Certificate of Eligibility is easy to read and understand. Your name, Social Security number, branch of service, and any prior loans charged to the entitlement are clearly stated. However, the two-digit entitlement code might need some explanation. This code indicates the period when you served or other circumstances that make you eligible for a VA loan. There are 11 codes ranging from 01 to 11. For instance, Code 05 denotes that your entitlement has been restored, while Code 10 indicates that you served in the Persian Gulf War.
Why are COEs necessary for VA loans?
A VA loan certificate of eligibility, also known as COE, documents eligibility to apply for a VA home loan and is required by lenders during the loan process.
How long does it take to receive a COE?
If you apply for a VA loan online and your eligibility can be easily verified, you can expect to receive your certificate of eligibility within about 30 days. However, it’s always recommended to apply well in advance and allow for a processing time of around six weeks to be safe.
In some cases, verifying your service and eligibility may take longer. For instance, if your discharge was classified as “less than honourable,” you may need to go through the VA’s Character of the Discharge review process, which can take up to a year to complete.
What do I do when I get my COE?
After you receive your letter of eligibility, you can proceed with the VA loan process. However, having a COE doesn’t guarantee loan approval. It simply means that you are eligible to apply for the loan. You will still have to go through the application process and fulfil the lender’s requirements, which may differ from lender to lender. The process is similar to other mortgages and involves evaluating your credit history, debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, and overall financial situation.
When does a VA Certificate of Eligibility expire?
Your certificate of eligibility (COE) for VA home loan doesn’t have an expiration date, which means once you qualify for it, you’ll always be eligible. However, there is one thing to keep in mind. If you receive your COE while you’re serving on active duty, you’ll need to obtain a new COE once you become a veteran.
Does a COE guarantee a VA loan approval?
No, a VA loan letter of eligibility does not guarantee approval for a mortgage. A VA loan can still be denied for many reasons including unstable or insufficient income, credit score issues, change of employment or even application errors.