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3 ways to get your VA certificate of eligibility

There are three possible ways to obtain a COE for a VA home loan. This is an important first step toward getting your VA loan and buying the house of your dreams.

1. Apply online

Go to the eBenefits portal operated by the departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense to apply for your certificate. You will need to sign in with your DS account.

2. Through a lender

Lenders that work with the VA have access to a special database where they can look you up and provide the necessary documentation quickly.

More: Check Your Eligibility With Veterans United Home Loans

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3. By mail

You can print out an application form, fill it out, mail it off — and wait for the paperwork.

Information required to get a VA loan COE

We break down exactly what you’ll need to get a VA loan depending on your situation.


You’ll be asked to provide your discharge or separation papers (DD214).

Service member

Required to provide a statement of service, signed by your superior, with the following information:

  • Full name
  • SSN number
  • Date of birth
  • Date you entered duty
  • Duration of any lost time
  • Name of the command providing the information

Current or former activated National Guard member

You’ll need your DD214 or other discharge documents. However, if you’re a current or former activated National Guard member with at least 90 days of active service (including 30 consecutive days), you’ll need one of the following documents to prove your activation date:

  • DD214 with 32 USC sections 316, 502, 503, 504, or 505 activation
  • An annual point statement
  • DD220 with accompanying orders

Current or former activated Reserve member

You’ll be asked to provide your discharge or separation papers (DD214).

Current member of the National Guard or Reserve who has never been activated

Required to provide a statement of service, signed by your superior, with the following information:

  • Full name
  • SSN number
  • Date of birth
  • Date you entered duty
  • Total number of creditable years of service
  • Duration of any lost time
  • Name of the command providing the information

Discharged member of the National Guard or Reserve who was never activated

In this instance, you’ll need a few documents indicated below.

  • Your Report of Separation and Record of Service (NGB Form 22) for each period of National Guard service
  • Your Retirement Points Statement (NGB Form 23)
  • Proof of the character of service

Discharged member of the Reserve who was never activated

You’ll need a copy of your latest annual retirement points and proof of honorable service.

Surviving spouse of a veteran who died on active duty or had a service-connected disability

Find out more about how to request a COE as a surviving spouse here.

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Understanding your certificate of eligibility

Once you have your COE, you'll find a lot of basic information on it: your name, Social Security number, branch of the service, etc.

One important thing to look for is a two-digit number: the VA loan entitlement code. It puts you into a category of borrowers, and part of what the code indicates is whether you're exempt from paying the VA funding fee.

One final point about the certificate of eligibility: Just because you've got yours, don't assume you have a lock on getting a VA loan. Your home will still have to pass a VA appraisal, and your credit will still have to pass muster with a lender.

More: What is a VA loan funding fee?

Who is eligible for a VA loan?

A Veterans Affairs loan is a benefit that's not extended to just anybody. To qualify, you must have completed one of the following:

  • 90 consecutive days of military service during wartime.
  • 181 consecutive days of service during peacetime.
  • Six years of service in the Reserves or National Guard, or 90 days under Title 32 (training or other duties, other than inactive duties) with at least 30 of those days being consecutive.

Some surviving spouses of service members also are eligible for the VA loan program depending on the situation, including if their partner is missing in action, a prisoner of war or died while in service, among other exceptions.

How long does it take to get a certificate of eligibility?

After submitting all the appropriate documentation in hard copy form via traditional mail, it can take up to six weeks to receive a COE. However, if you choose to submit the required paperwork through the eBenefits portal or your lender, you’ll receive your COE within minutes.

Where to start

The first step is to determine your eligibility and get your certificate to prove it. Check your eligibility now with Veterans United Home Loans.

More: Check Your Eligibility With Veterans United Home Loans


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Doug Whiteman Former Editor-in-Chief

Doug Whiteman was formerly the editor-in-chief of MoneyWise. He has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and CNBC.com and has been interviewed on Fox Business, CBS Radio and the syndicated TV show "First Business."


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