A VA Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is a document that verifies you meet the service requirements to get a VA loan. In addition to this, your VA COE also contains information on your loan entitlement, your entitlement code and whether you meet the requirements to waive the VA funding fee.
Though a COE is not required to start the VA process, your VA lender will need access to one before you can close on your home loan. Below we'll break down the Certificate of Eligibility and help you figure out how you can get yours.
The Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is an essential part of the VA loan process. Your COE lets lenders know if you are eligible for a VA loan, if you've used a VA loan before and the status of prior VA loans.
While the COE is a required step in the VA loan process, know that you don't have to obtain one before starting the loan process. And in many cases, you may not even need to do the work to get it since most lenders have access to the VA's WebLGY system.
Below are some of the most common questions we receive about the Certificate of Eligibility. If you have additional questions about your COE, reach out and let us know.
Veterans can access their Certificate of Eligibility (COE) in three main ways:
Most VA lenders can access your COE through the VA's online digital portal. Using the Automated Certificate of Eligibility (ACE) system, your VA lender should be able to pull up your COE almost instantly. However, remember that if the VA doesn't have sufficient data on you in their system, you'll likely have to apply for a COE.
To access your COE online, you'll need first to create or log in to your account on the eBenefits page. After you're in your account, hover over "Apply" and click on "Housing" in the dropdown menu. Find and click "Certificate of Eligibility," and you'll get a link that takes you to your COE. Remember, you'll need an eBenefits Premium account to view your COE online.
Fill out a VA Form 22-1880 and send it to your VA Regional Loan Center address. If you're getting your VA loan Certificate of Eligibility by mail, keep in mind it can take four to six weeks to arrive.
To qualify for a COE, you must meet the following military service requirements:
You're eligible for a COE once you've completed 90 days of active duty service as a current service member.
As a Veteran, you're eligible if you served 90 days during wartime or 181 consecutive days during peacetime. If you were discharged with a service-related disability, these requirements don't apply to you.
You're eligible for a COE following 90 days of active duty or six years of honorable service. You can also qualify with 90 days of service under Title 32 (i.e., you are mobilized by order of the governor of your state), as long as the 30 days of service are consecutive.
If your spouse died while in service or from a service-related disability, you might also be eligible for a COE. You can apply with either a VA Form 26-1817 if you receive Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC), or a VA Form 21P-534EZ if you do not. Surviving spouses who remarry are often not qualified for a COE.
Under the NADL program, Native American Veterans who live on federal land might be eligible for a mortgage. However, you still must meet one of the service requirements above to obtain your COE.
In general, you can get your Certificate of Eligibility with a discharge status of honorable (HON), under honorable conditions (UHC) or general (GEN). Those with discharges categorized as other than honorable (OTH), bad conduct, or dishonorable are usually ineligible for a VA loan.
That said, if you have an ineligible discharge, you might still be able to qualify. You can do this in two ways:
First, you can apply for a discharge upgrade. Veterans who believe their discharge was unjust or inaccurate can appeal to their military branch for an upgrade. This is often the case when a Veteran is discharged due to traumatic brain injuries, mental health conditions or harassment.
Secondly, you can apply for a Character of Discharge review. Even if you can't upgrade your discharge, you can still appeal to the VA for further consideration of your status. Often this involves writing a letter to the VA, explaining the situation from your perspective and attaching supporting documents.
If you need help with either process, you can enlist the services of your local VA lender. They can help you access the correct forms and gather the right supporting documents.
If you lost your discharge papers, you can request a copy from the government's National Archives. You can also mail or fax your request to the National Personnel Record Center (NPRC).
If you cannot obtain your service records from the National Archives, you might have to file a Certificate in Lieu of Lost or Destroyed Discharge. Your VA lender should be able to help you obtain lost or destroyed records.
Your entitlement code is a two-digit number that specifies your VA loan eligibility.
Most codes indicate a period of service, such as Code 01 (World War II) or Code 04 (Vietnam War). The only code that's not associated with a period of service is Code 05, "Entitlement Restored." This means you've used a VA loan before and your entitlement amount has been restored to you, often because you paid off the first VA loan.
Entitlement codes range from 1 to 11 and they correspond to the following:
|01||World War II|
|07||Spouse of POW/MIA|
|08||Post-World War II|
|10||Persian Gulf War|
At the top of your COE, you'll also see the status of your funding fee. If you're a Veteran with a service-related disability, an active service member with a Purple Heart, or a surviving spouse, then you do not have to pay the funding fee and should see the status as "exempt.”
No, your Certificate of Eligibility does not expire. That said, you'll often have to get a fresh COE when you apply for a VA loan. Lenders will want to see the most recent status of your loan entitlement and entitlement code.
If you're applying for your COE by mail, it can take 4-6 weeks before it arrives. You can also get your Certificate of Eligibility instantly by accessing it through the eBenefits portal or having your VA lender access it through the VA's LGY hub.
No, having a COE doesn't guarantee a VA lender will approve your application. To get approved for a VA loan, you must apply with a lender and meet their credit and income requirements.
Though these requirements can vary from lender to lender, many ask for a credit score of 620, a debt-to-income ratio of 41% or lower, and at least two years of consistent income. In addition, the home you're buying should become your primary residence within 60 days of closing. Lastly, you'll need to meet the minimum residual income requirements based on the size of your family and area.
Yes, military spouses that qualify for VA loan benefits can obtain a COE. To get a COE as a military spouse, you need to receive Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and complete VA Form 26-1817. After completing the form, please mail it to your regional loan office. The VA regional loan office address is listed at the bottom of the form.
If you are not receiving Dependency & Indemnity Compensation benefits, you'll need to apply through VA Form 21P-534EZ, then follow the steps above.
Getting a Certificate of Eligibility is often one of the first steps a Veteran will take toward homeownership. If you need help accessing your Certificate of Eligibility, talk to your VA lender first. Even if they can't access your COE through the VA's online portal, they can walk you through the steps to request one online or through the mail.
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† ICB Solutions is a division of Neighbors Bank, which is an affiliate of Mortgage Research Center, LLC dba Veterans United Home Loans.