How to Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility

You’re ready to buy a home and want to use your VA loan to do it. You’ve been told (or are being told now) that the first step is getting your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) but don’t know what that heck that is or how to get it.

What is a Certificate of Eligibility (COE)? – It’s basically a piece of paper or document that you’ll provide to a VA Lender to prove that you qualify to utilize a VA home loan.

How do I prepare before starting my application?

Gather the information you’ll need to apply for your COE. Click on the description below that matches you best to find out what you’ll need:

If you’re a Veteran, you’ll need a copy of your discharge or separation papers (DD214).

If you’re an active-duty Servicemember, you’ll need:

  • A statement of service—signed by your commander, adjutant, or personnel officer—showing this information:
    • Your full name
    • Your Social Security number
    • Your date of birth
    • The date you entered duty
    • The duration of any lost time
    • The name of the command providing the information

If you’re a current or former activated National Guard or Reserve member, you’ll need a copy of your discharge or separation papers (DD214).

If you’re a current member of the National Guard or Reserves, and have never been activated, you’ll need:

  • A statement of service—signed by your commander, adjutant, or personnel officer—showing this information:
    • Your full name
    • Your Social Security number
    • Your date of birth
    • The date you entered duty
    • Your total number of creditable years of service
    • The duration of any lost time
    • The name of the command providing the information

If you’re a discharged member of the National Guard and were never activated, you’ll need:

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

If you’re a discharged member of the Reserves and were never activated, you’ll need:

  • A copy of your latest annual retirement points, and
  • Proof of your honorable service

If you’re a surviving spouse of a Military Veteran who qualifies for VA home loan benefits, you’ll need the Veteran’s discharge documents (DD214)—if available—and:

  • If you’re receiving Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC), you’ll also need to fill out and send a Request for Determination of Loan Guaranty Eligibility—Unmarried Surviving Spouses (VA Form 26-1817).
    Download VA Form 26-1817Or,
  • If you’re not receiving DIC benefits, you’ll need to fill out and send an Application for DIC, Death Pension and/or Accrued Benefits (VA Form 21P-534EZ), and
    • A copy of your marriage license, and
    • The Veteran’s death certificate

How do I apply for my COE?

You can apply online right now.

Go to eBenefits to Apply

You can also apply:

Through our Web LGY system

In some cases, you can get your COE through your lender using our Web LGY system. Ask your lender about this option.

By mail

To apply by mail, fill out a Request for a Certificate of Eligibility (VA Form 26-1880) and mail it to the address listed on the form. Please keep in mind that this may take longer than applying online or through our Web LGY system.
Download VA Form 26-1880.

Next steps for getting a VA direct or VA-backed home loan

Applying for your COE is only one part of the process for getting a VA direct or VA-backed home loan. Your next steps will depend on the type of loan you’re looking to get—and on your lender (for most loans, the lender will be a private bank or mortgage company; for the Native American Direct Loan, we’ll be your lender).

Help for VA Lenders and Loan Officers

If you’re a loan officer working to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility for a client, you should first attempt to obtain a COE through the online application webLGY, which can be accessed through the VA Information Portal. If a COE is obtained, lenders should print out a copy and retain it with their origination loan documents. Once a loan has been closed and guaranteed, lenders should submit a copy of the COE with the loan package if the case is identified for full review.

If a COE cannot be obtained immediately or if the COE is issued with reduced entitlement and restoration is needed, lenders should select the electronic application link that permits them to submit an electronic application to the Eligibility Center. The webLGY system allows lenders to upload documentation, such as discharge papers or evidence to support restoration (HUD-1 etc.), along with the electronic application. Lenders should not upload scanned documents without first completing an electronic application. Using this feature, rather than mail, is the preferred method, as it greatly reduces processing time.

Note: Inability to obtain a COE in webLGY does not mean the veteran is ineligible, only that the system does not have sufficient information to make an automatic determination. Lenders should always continue the application process as described in the preceding paragraph. For mailed applications, follow the procedures below.

  1. VA Form 26-1880 can be obtained from this link.
  2. Please complete the form as thoroughly as possible. This will help expedite processing.
  3. Attach all required documentation to the form. References: • The instructions to the form describe the proof of military service needed.
  4. Submit the form and attachments to: Atlanta Regional Loan Center Attn: COE P.O. Box 100034 Decatur, GA 30031 If a lender needs assistance on an eligibility issue, they may call 1-888-768-2132.

Application for Unmarried Surviving Spouses

Unmarried surviving spouses of veterans who die on active duty or later from service-connected causes may also be eligible for the home loan benefit. Also, a surviving spouse of a veteran who dies on active duty or from service connected causes, may still be eligible if remarried on or after age 57 and on or after December 16, 2003. Eligibility may also be granted to the spouse of an active duty member who is listed as missing in action (MIA) or a prisoner of war (POW) for at least 90 days. Eligibility under this MIA/POW provision is limited to one-time use only.

Surviving spouses of veterans who died from non-service connected causes may also be eligible if any of the following conditions are met: (1) the veteran was rated totally disabled for 10 years or more immediately preceding death; or (2) was rated totally disabled for not less than five years from date of discharge or release from active duty to date of death, or (3) the veteran was a former prisoner of war who died after September 30, 1999, and was rated totally disabled for not less than one year immediately preceding death.

If applying for the first time, surviving spouses must complete VA Form 26- 1817, Request for Determination of Loan Guaranty Eligibility-Unmarried Surviving Spouses, instead of VA Form 26-1880.

Surviving Spouse COEs are not issued via an automated COE. In order to obtain a Surviving Spouse COE, upload the completed VA Form 26-1817 and supporting documentation into webLGY, and complete the electronic application.

Previously Issued COE is Missing

If the veteran’s COE has been lost, lenders may apply for another in the same manner as described about.

2018-10-05T20:46:57+00:00

About the Author:

Patrick is the CEO and Broker of Record for The Local Realty, Inc. (a boutique lifestyle real estate company) which powers 10+ trademarked brands and 500+ networks including partnerships with 10,000+ referral partners across the world.

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