Certificate of Eligibility

Shopping for a VA Loan? Don’t Forget the Certificate of Eligibility

The VA home loan program has been helping military service members and their families buy the homes of their dreams since back in 1944. Though the process has changed somewhat since it was first established all those years ago, you will still need a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) before you start shopping for your loan. Here’s what you should know about your COE and how to get one. 

What is a COE?

A Certificate of Eligibility is a document that verifies to the lender that you are eligible to receive a VA-backed home loan. Remember that the VA does not make the loans itself; rather, it backs a portion of the loan you take out from the lender of your choice, which thereby reduces that lender’s risk and gives you a far better opportunity of obtaining a mortgage, even if your credit score is less-than-perfect. 

What Do You Need for Your Certificate of Eligibility?

In order to obtain a COE, you must provide specific evidence to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The precise evidence you need depends primarily on your qualification. 

  • Veterans and current or former National Guard or Reserve members who have been activated in Federal active service will need a DD Form 201 showing the character of service and the reason for your separation. 
  • Active duty service members must provide a current statement of service signed by the unit or higher headquarters commander, personnel office, or adjutant. This statement must show your name, social security number, date of birth, date active duty started, lost time duration, and the name of the command that is providing said information.
  • Current National Guard or Reserve members who have never been activated in Federal active service must have a statement signed by the unit or higher headquarters commander, personnel officer, or adjutant that shows your name, social security number, date of birth, date active duty started, number of credible years of service, duration of lost time, and the name of the command that provided the information. 
  • Discharged members of the National Guard who were never activated for Federal active service must provide a NGB Form 22, or a Report of Separation and Record of Service for each period served with the National Guard. They must also provide NGB Form 23, or the Retirement Points Accounting form, along with proof of the character of service. 
  • Discharged members of the Selected Reserve who were never activated for Federal active service must provide a copy of their retirement points statement (for the latest year) and evidence that they served honorably. 
  • Surviving spouses receiving DIC benefits need to submit a VA Form 26-1817 and Veteran’s Form DD214 if one is available. They must include their own and their deceased spouse’s social security numbers on the former. 
  • Surviving spouses not receiving DIC benefits must submit a VA Form 21P-534-ARE, a DD214, a marriage license, and a death certificate or Report of Casualty to the Compensation and Pension office. 

Once you have gathered the appropriate information, you can apply for your certificate of eligibility online through the eBenefits portal, through the lender of your choice, or via postal mail. You can download the COE request form here, print it out, and mail it in along with the required documentation.

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