3 Steps to Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility

VA Loans allow Military Veterans, active military members and their spouses the opportunity to purchase real estate without any money down. In order to check your eligibility, the first step is to get your Certificate of Eligibility (COE).  Many members hear this from their loan officer or Military REALTOR, however, it can sometimes be hard to find.

This quick guide will streamline the process of obtaining your COE and help make sure you have all documents to ensure your eligibility for a VA Loan.

So, what is a Certificate of Eligibility (COE)?

– It’s essentially a document that you’ll provide to a VA Mortgage Lender in order to prove that you qualify to apply for a VA home loan. It doesn’t guarantee you will qualify for a VA Loan….it merely informs a lender that you’re eligible to apply.

Step 1) Prepare to obtain your Certificate of Eligibility

You will need several items before you receive your COE. Browse through the resources below to find out what you’ll need:

Step 2) Apply for my COE

Once you’ve gathered the appropriate documents you can apply for your Certificate of Eligibility through the eBenefits website.

Go to eBenefits to Apply

You can also:

  • Apply through the Web LGY system – In some cases, you can get your COE through your lender using the Web LGY system. Ask your lender about this option.By mail
  • 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

Step 3) Apply for a VA Loan

After receiving your COE, you can then take the next steps in applying for a VA loan through a government approve VA Lender.

VA Loan Options

  • Purchase Loan
  • Native American Direct Loan (NADL)
  • Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL)
  • Cash-Out Refinance Loan

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.

What is a VA Certificate of Eligibility
VA Funding Fees