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What is a VA Certificate of Eligibility? Feature Image
Posted on December 10, 2020 6 minute read

What is a VA Certificate of Eligibility?

What's in this article?

Why do I need a VA Certificate of Eligibility?
How do I get my VA Certificate of Eligibility?
How long does it take to get?
What if I don’t meet the requirements?
What are my next steps to get approved for a VA loan?

You’ve decided that you want to become a homeowner or make repairs to your current home. While finding or building your dream home is at the top of your list, it is just as important to find the perfect loan to afford this next step.

You may have heard that you could qualify for a VA loan and want to take advantage of those benefits, but first, you need to find out if you’re eligible.

A VA Certificate of Eligibility (COE) shows your lender that you qualify for a home loan that is backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The COE will show proof that you are a veteran, service member, or surviving spouse. Those who meet military service requirements can receive the VA loan benefits. 

Paying no down payment* on your home purchase and having flexible options are two of the many benefits that may make this loan appealing. Finding out if you qualify for the COE will help you determine if a VA loan could make your new home more affordable.

Continue reading to learn why you need a VA COE, how long it takes to get, and the next steps to get a mortgage. 

*A down payment is required if the borrower does not have full VA entitlement or when the loan amount exceeds the VA county limits.

Why do I need a VA Certificate of Eligibility?

By providing your lender with the required COE, they will see that you have met one of the following requirements needed to qualify for a VA loan: 

  • You have served 181 consecutive days on active duty 
  • You have served 90 or more consecutive days during peacetime 
  • You have spent 6 years in the National Guard or Reserves
  • You are the surviving spouse of a service member or veteran

A COE is not needed before applying for a mortgage, but it will be required before you can get final approval on your mortgage. You will also need to be sure that your COE is up to date. 

Your COE will include an entitlement code, which lenders will need to determine your military service, eligibility, and if you are required to pay a VA funding fee. 

Your entitlement code, which will be a number between 1 and 11, is located on the top left-hand portion of your COE. This number identifies how you earned service and during what time period you earned entitlement. 

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How do I get my VA Certificate of Eligibility?

If you meet the requirements needed to qualify for a VA loan, there are a few different ways you can request a Certificate of Eligibility form: 

If you are a surviving spouse, you will need to fill out a request for determination of loan guarantee eligibility form. You will then need to work with your lender for processing and determination. While this form will be needed, either way, it is essential to ask your lender if they can provide you with a COE. Some lenders cannot offer surviving spouses a COE, meaning it will need to be obtained through one of the other two options. 

Regardless of how you request your COE, you will need to fill out Form DD214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty to prove your military service or your spouse’s military service, after the veteran’s retirement, separation, or discharge from active duty. 

How long does it take to get?

The time it takes to receive your COE depends on how you request it and how long it has been since you served in the military.

If you ask your lender to obtain the COE for you, you could have it within the same day. This is typically the fastest and simplest way. 

If you plan to receive your COE in the mail, it could take up to two months to arrive. 

It could also take a few months if you had less than an honorable discharge or are a surviving spouse. In these situations, someone will need to look into your file and obtain additional information.

r a mortgage, but you will need to have it completed before you can close on your new mortgage to purchase a home. Consider this timing in your overall process for closing your mortgage.

What if I don’t meet the requirements?

Although you may be uncertain about whether you’re eligible for a VA loan, the only way to know for sure is to apply. There are many unique situations considered for eligibility.

For example, if you were discharged for one of the following reasons, you might still be able to receive a COE:

  • Certain medical conditions
  • Hardships
  • A disability that occurred during your military service 
  • Reduction in force
  • You were let out early, but no sooner than 21 months (out of a 2-year enlistment)

What are my next steps to get approved for a VA loan?

Finding out if you’re eligible for a VA loan is a great first step in purchasing your new home. Qualifying for a COE does not guarantee a VA loan, but it does show the lender that you’re eligible. Different lenders may have additional requirements that you must meet before you can obtain a loan from them.

Homefinity can help you determine if you qualify for a VA loan, and guide you through the additional next steps to secure your loan.

To find out if you’re eligible and to move forward with a VA loan, you’ll need to fill out a VA COE. Contact us today to discuss your next steps so that we can help you get the right loan for the right home

VA loans subject to individual VA Entitlement amounts and eligibility, qualifying factors such as income and credit guidelines, and property limits. Homefinity is not affiliated with any government agencies. These materials are not from VA, HUD or FHA, and were not approved by VA, HUD or FHA, or any other government agency.

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