If you qualify for one VA loanyou can get a mortgage without taking a down payment or paying for mortgage insurance. However, you must apply for a VA Loan Certificate before you can apply for the loan.
What is a certificate of eligibility?
A VA Loan Certificate (COE) is the first step towards a VA loan. The COE is provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and is used as evidence that you meet the requirements to be eligible for a VA loan. Without it, you can’t take advantage of Low VA loan rates and other advantages.
How to Obtain a VA Loan Certificate
In order to get a VA Loan Certificate, you need to meet a few important requirements. These will vary based on your status (active duty or veteran), the length of time you have served, and your discharge status:
- If you are on active duty now, you must have served at least 90 consecutive days.
- For veterans, the service requirements are a little more complex and vary from 90 days of active duty to 24 consecutive months. To determine whether you meet the requirements, Check the standards of the VA.
There are three main options for obtaining your Certificate of Entitlement:
- Apply online: The VA eBenefits online portal is the easiest and fastest way to get your Certificate of Entitlement.
- Ask your mortgage lender: If you know what VA lender If you want to work with you can ask the lender for help with obtaining your COE.
- Application by email: You can print them out VA’s COE application form, fill it in and send it to the appropriate regional loan center (addresses can be found on the form). Note that this option will take additional time.
What you need to get a VA COE
If you are currently active, you will need a statement of service signed by your commanding officer, adjutant, or human resources office that includes your name, social security number, and date of birth. The day you started your service, the time lost, and the name of the command providing the information must also be documented.
If you are a veteran, you will need your discharge or separation papers (DD214).
If you are a discharged member of the National Guard or the Reserves and have never been activated, there are a few other requirements you must meet in order to document your eligibility. Check the VAs completely list of what you need for your application.
Surviving spouses also have some additional documentation. You must complete the VA Eligibility Determination Application for Loan Guarantee – Unmarried Surviving Spouses form. Then you need to track down your spouse’s military records as to what to do about that National Archives;; a copy of your marriage certificate; and a copy of your spouse’s death certificate.
How long does it take to get a COE?
If you apply online and it’s easy to verify your eligibility, getting your COE can be relatively quick: around 30 days. If you can, apply early and allow six weeks to process.
In rare cases, the verification of the service and the eligibility can take some time. For example, if your dismissal is rated “less than honorable”, you can go through the VA character dismissal review process, which can take up to a year.
What do I do when I get my COE?
When you have your COE, it’s time to move on VA loan process. Obtaining a COE does not automatically mean that you are eligible for a VA loan. It just means that you are eligible to apply. You still have to go through the application process and meet the lender’s criteria, which can vary from lender to lender.
The process looks pretty similar to other loans at this point and involves checking your creditworthiness, debt to income ratio, and overall financial picture.
When does a COE expire?
Your VA home loan certificate never expires. Once you are eligible, you are done. However, this rule has one caveat: if you received your COE while on active duty, you may need to obtain a new COE once your status changes to Veteran.