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Can I get a certificate of eligibility for a VA direct or VA-backed home loan?

A Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is a document issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that confirms that you meet the service requirements for a VA home loan. Here all the details to achieve it.

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If you are a veteran, active-duty service member, or a surviving spouse, you may be eligible for a VA direct or VA-backed home loan. The first step in this process is obtaining a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). This document verifies to lenders that you meet the necessary service requirements to qualify for a VA loan.

What is a Certificate of Eligibility (COE)?

A Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is a document issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that confirms you meet the service requirements for a VA home loan. This certificate is essential for both VA direct and VA-backed home loans, as it assures lenders of your eligibility.

Who is eligible for a COE?

Eligibility for a COE depends on your service history and status. Seen below are the primary categories of individuals who can obtain a COE:

  • Veterans: Those who have served in the active military, naval, or air service and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
  • Active-Duty Service Members: Currently serving members of the military.
  • National Guard and Reserve Members: Those who have served for at least six years in the Selected Reserve or National Guard and were honorably discharged, or who have been called to active duty and completed 90 days of service under Title 10 orders.
  • Surviving Spouses: Unremarried spouses of veterans who died while in service or as a result of a service-connected disability, or spouses of service members missing in action or prisoners of war.

Minimum duty and service requirements to qualify.

If you are a service member and you’ve served for 90 continuous days without break you’ll automatically qualify for the minimum service requirement for COE.

If you are a Veteran, National Guard or Reserved Member, the minimum active requirement for you to qualify for COE depends on when you served.

How to obtain a COE

Obtaining a COE can be done through several methods, depending on your preference and circumstances:

  1. Online application: The fastest way to obtain a COE is through the VA’s eBenefits portal. You will need to create an account and follow the instructions to apply for your COE.
  2. Lender assistance: Many lenders have access to the VA’s Web LGY system, which allows them to obtain your COE on your behalf. This can simplify the process, especially if you are already working with a lender.
  3. Mail application: You can also apply for a COE by mail using VA Form 26-1880, “Request for a Certificate of Eligibility.” This method may take longer but is an option if you prefer not to apply online.

Required documentation

The documentation required to obtain a COE varies based on your service status:

  • Veterans: A copy of your discharge or separation papers (DD214) showing the nature of your service and discharge status.
  • Active-Duty service members: A current statement of service signed by your commander, adjutant, or personnel officer, including your full name, Social Security number, date of birth, entry date on active duty, duration of any lost time, and the name of the command providing the information.
  • National Guard and Reserve members: A copy of your discharge documents (DD214) or a statement of service if you are still serving. If you have never been activated, you will need your retirement points statement and proof of honorable service.
  • Surviving spouses: The veteran’s discharge documents (if available) and a completed VA Form 26-1817, “Request for Determination of Loan Guaranty Eligibility – Unmarried Surviving Spouses.”

Using your COE

Once you have obtained your COE, you can use it to apply for a VA direct or VA-backed home loan. Detailed below is how to get it:

  1. Choose a lender: Select a lender that participates in the VA home loan program. Provide them with your COE to verify your eligibility.
  2. Loan application: Complete the loan application process with your chosen lender. They will use your COE to confirm your eligibility and proceed with the loan approval process.
  3. Loan approval: If approved, you can use your VA loan benefits to purchase a home, refinance an existing loan, or make home improvements.

Importance of a COE

Obtaining a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is a crucial step for veterans, active-duty service members, National Guard and Reserve members, and surviving spouses seeking a VA direct or VA-backed home loan. By understanding the eligibility requirements, application methods, and necessary documentation, you can streamline the process and take advantage of the benefits offered by the VA home loan program.

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