Veterans and service members who want to finance the purchase, construction or improvement of a home with a loan backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs need a Certificate of Eligibility, or COE, in addition to a good credit record and proof of income. The VA offers several ways to apply for an original or a replacement COE. Although your VA-approved lender requires the certificate as proof that you qualify for the VA Loan Guaranty program, you can usually start the home-loan process without it.
Surviving Spouse Application
Surviving spouses can only get a replacement COE by mailing VA Form 26-1817, Request for Determination of Loan Guaranty Eligibility -- Unmarried Surviving Spouses, to the VA Loan Eligibility Center in Decatur, Georgia. Forms can be downloaded from the VA Forms link on the va.gov website or requested by calling 1-888-768-2132. Processing can take as long as three months, so surviving spouses may want to plan their home purchase accordingly. Spouses of service members who died while on active duty and don’t yet receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, or DIC, should include a copy of their marriage certificate and the casualty report -- DD Form 1300 -- they received from the military. DIC-receiving spouses of veterans who died from service-related causes attach a copy of their award letter, while those who don't get DIC should include three documents with their application: copies of their marriage certificate, the veteran's death certificate, and the veteran's DD Form 214.
Before You Begin
Regardless of the route a service member chooses to request a replacement COE, gathering the evidence, or the paperwork, that proves military service makes the process easier. According to the VA, the documents needed depend on the nature of a member’s service. For armed forces veterans and Reserve or National Guard members who've been activated for federal active service, copy 4 of the DD-214 form, or Certificate of Release or Discharge From Active Duty, suffices. Former and current Reserve or National Guard members who've never been in federal active service need a statement of service signed by their commanding or personnel officer, as do active service members. Those discharged from the National Guard or Selected Reserve can use either their retirement points statement -- NGB Form 23 -- with proof of their service or the NGB Form 22, Report of Separation and Record of Service.
Ask Your Lender
With a few service-related exceptions, your VA-approved lender can get a replacement Certificate of Eligibility for you within minutes, provided that theVA's records include all of your information. You present your evidence documents to the loan officer, who then uses the VA's online loan guaranty system, called Web LGY, to verify your eligibility and get the COE. This automated system cannot process COE requests from members of the National Guard or the Reserves, veterans with other than an honorable discharge, benefit restoration requests, surviving spouses, or those with a prior VA loan foreclosure.
Apply Online Yourself
If you prefer getting the replacement certificate yourself, you have an online option. The ebenefits.va.gov website lets you generate and print your COE weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. First-time site users must register to create their security questions and login and password credentials.
Apply by Mail
Members who prefer working with a hard copy or for whom the bank cannot generate a certificate due to insufficient information in the VA database can mail a paper application: VA Form 26-1880 Request for Certificate of Eligibility. You can get this one-page form from your lender or the VA Forms section at va.gov. Complete it on your computer before printing, or print and then write your entries. Prospective VA-loan recipients can expect a 10-day turnaround time.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Eligibility Home Loans
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: How Do I Obtain a VA Home Loan Certificate of Eligibility or a Duplicate of a Certificate?
- The Mortgage Reports: Applying For A VA Loan? Here’s How To Get The VA Certificate Of Eligibility (COE) You’ll Need
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Certificate of Eligibility Home Loans
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs St. Paul Regional Office: FAQ; How do I get a Certificate of Eligibility (COE)?
- Veterans United Home Loans: Getting Your Certificate of Eligibility: Let a Lender Do the Heavy Lifting
- VA Benefit: The Certificate of Eligibility
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: VA Forms
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: VA Form 26-1817; Request for Determination of Loan Guaranty Eligibility - Unmarried Surviving Spouses
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: VA Form 26-1880; Request for a Certificate of Eligibility
- Military.com: VA Loan Certificate of Eligibility Guide
Trudy Brunot began writing in 1992. Her work has appeared in "Quarterly," "Pennsylvania Health & You," "Constructor" and the "Tribune-Review" newspaper. Her domestic and international experience includes human resources, advertising, marketing, product and retail management positions. She holds a master's degree in international business administration from the University of South Carolina.