Getting a Certificate of Eligibility is one of the first steps in using a loan guarantee from the Department of Veterans Affairs, also known as a VA home loan. The certificate serves as proof that a buyer is eligible for the loan. In some cases, a private lender, such as a bank, may request the certificate on the veteran's behalf. However, lodging the request yourself is a fairly simple process. Once you obtain your Certificate of Eligibility, you can begin searching for a property.
Determine if you meet the eligibility criteria for a VA home loan. See the "General Rules for Eligibility" at the Department of Veterans Affairs website (see Resources). Persons who may be eligible are veterans, soldiers on active duty, reservists, members of the National Guar and widows and widowers of those who died in the line or duty or as a result of active service.
Download the request form from the Department of Veterans Affairs website. Get Certificate of Eligibility Request Form 26-1880 if you are the veteran or serviceman or woman yourself. Get Form VA Form 26-1817 instead if you are a surviving spouse of a veteran. Fill in, sign and date the form.
Gather supporting evidence to prove you meet the criteria for a Certificate of Eligibility. Acceptable proof depends on the type of eligibility. Example: Veterans must submit a copy of Form DD-214, Discharge Papers and Separation Documents, while the widow or widower of a veteran who died in active duty must submit copies of Form 1300, Report of Casualty, and their marriage certificate.
Prepare the Certificate of Eligibility Request Form and supporting documents in one package. Make several copies of the entire request package. Mail the primary copy to the Department of Veterans Affairs at the following address, or the current address indicated in the request form:
Department of Veterans Affairs Eligibility Center P.O. Box 20729 Winston-Salem, NC 27120
- If you do not have a printer, call 888-244-6711 and follow the directions for Eligibility.
- Applicants other than surviving spouses may file their request online or through a lender instead.
- Make at least two copies of your application package, in addition to the original you send. Keep the extra copies in case you need them later.
- Do not send original documents, except for the request form, which must be signed and dated. Submitted documents are never returned.
- A dishonorable discharge is grounds for ineligibility.
Jay Leon began work as a writer and blogger in 2007. Her clients have included content provider Averheld and Loudoun Rewards Club. She writes about computing, web design, the Internet and travel.