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What Is a VA Certificate of Eligibility?

What you'll learn: The eligibility requirements for a VA COE and how to obtain one


A Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is a document generated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) that will inform your VA loan lender that you meet the necessary VA eligibility requirements to obtain a VA loan. In addition, it also provides your lender with the necessary information in terms of your entitlement and fees. Entitlement is the total amount the VA will guarantee for your loan.

Am I eligible for a VA loan COE?

For complete eligibility details, make sure to check the VA website. To get started, you can first see if you meet one or more of the following general guidelines:

  • Any veteran who served after August 2, 1990 is eligible if they served for 24 continuous months.
  • Anyone who is currently on active duty is eligible after 90 continuous days of service.
  • Members of the National Guard and Reservists become eligible after 90 continuous days of service.

What do I need to apply for a COE?

  • If you are a veteran, you will need a copy of your discharge papers (DD214).
  • If you are an active-duty Service Member, you will need a statement of your service signed by your commander or personnel officer with the following:
    • Full name
    • Social Security number
    • Date of birth
    • Date you entered duty
    • What the duration of any lost time in service was (if any)
    • Name of the command supplying the information
  • If you are a current or former activated member of the National Guard or Reserve you will need a copy of your discharge papers (DD214).

You can find additional information on what you'll need before you apply, as well as actually apply, on the VA website.

Does a VA loan COE expire?

Your certificate will never expire. However, if you obtained your certificate while on active duty, and you are now a veteran, you’ll need to apply for a new COE.

How long does it typically take to obtain a VA COE?

The VA suggests that the average time to make a decision on your COE is approximately 30 days. It might be a good idea to budget 4-6 weeks to be safe. Starting to think about the entire process of buying a home will help you get better prepared before you begin your home search and pre-approval process.

If I get a COE, am I guaranteed to get a VA loan?

Despite the fact that a VA loan is a loan backed by the VA, obtaining a COE does not guarantee that you will qualify for a VA loan. A COE is a document that simply outlines that you have met the eligibility requirements to obtain a VA loan, but you still need to apply through your financial institution and meet its credit criteria — including credit score, income, and debt to income ratio (DTI).

How do I get a COE?

You can apply directly for a COE online or print this form directly from the VA website and mail it in.

To learn more about PenFed VA loans:

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