The VA Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is one of the most critical documents in the VA home loan process. This certificate serves as proof of a Veteran’s military service and provides important information to the lender. If you want to get your hands on your COE but don’t know where to start, we’re going to take a look at three ways you can obtain your VA Certificate of Eligibility.
#1: Apply via mail
If you’re into getting your COE the old-fashioned way, you can request it from the VA via mail. You’ll have to print a copy of VA Form 26-1880, fill it out and put it in the mailbox. The VA needs to see proof of service and proper identifying information along with your COE request. If you do not provide sufficient evidence, the VA will send you a letter detailing what’s missing.
As you might guess, going back and forth via the mail carrier is the slowest and most difficult way to obtain your VA Certificate of Eligibility.
#2: Use the eBenefits Portal
The VA’s eBenefits portal provides a wide range of resources and services to Veterans and their families. In order to request your COE online, you’ll first need to register for an eBenefits account. There are two tiers of eBenefits accounts: Basic and Premium. In order to get a Premium account and unlock more features, you’ll need to verify your identity.
For many Veterans, identity verification can happen online by answering security questions, but some may need to call or visit a VA Regional Office before they can access all of the eBenefits features. Those who are unable to verify their identity will have a Basic account, which will not display any personal information. Once your account is set up, you can follow the onscreen prompts to submit any necessary evidence and generate your VA Certificate of Eligibility.
#3: Ask Your Lender
The fastest and easiest way to get your COE is to talk to your lender. They’ll let you know what evidence you need and can access your COE instantly through the Veterans Information Portal (VIP). The VIP is being gradually replaced by the VA’s new Loan Guaranty hub, so you may see either of these tools used.
When you work with your lender to obtain your COE, you don’t need to worry about going back and forth with the VA. Experienced VA loan lenders know exactly what you need to provide to fulfill the COE evidence requirements. From there, the information on the COE can unlock the next steps on the VA home loan journey.
What’s on the VA Certificate of Eligibility?
As a borrower, you’re not expected to know what all of the details on the COE mean. Your trusted VA home loan lender is here to help you navigate all of the terminology and forms. Still, we encourage military borrowers to become familiar with the loan process as best they can. That’s why we’re available at every step of the way to answer your questions and assist you.
On the COE, you’ll see what’s known as an “entitlement code,” which gives lenders information about the nature of your military service. These two-digit codes can refer to the era when you served or what your entitlement status is. Veterans with full entitlement who enlisted after August 1990 will have a Code 10, and those who used a VA home loan in the past and then had their entitlement restored will have a Code 05.
How Do I Satisfy VA Loan Requirements?
In order to be eligible for a VA home loan, you’ll have to meet at least one of the following service requirements:
- During wartime: at least 90 days of continuous active duty
- During peacetime: at least 181 days of active duty
- In the Selected Reserve or National Guard: at least six years of service
Veterans who have been discharged for a service-connected disability are exempt from these time requirements. If you’re a surviving spouse of a service member who has died in the line of duty or as a result of a service-connected disability, you may also be eligible.
Do I Need my COE to Get Started?
There’s no need to obtain your COE before starting the VA home loan process. Since challenges can arise when requesting a COE on your own, your best bet is to start off with the help of a lender. As long as you meet the minimum service requirements and have the necessary documentation, your COE can be obtained as quickly as possible.
For more, see Do You Need a COE?
Obtain Your VA Certificate of Eligibility Today
We’ve taken a look at the three ways you can obtain your COE, and the winner is clear. Working with a trusted lender is the fastest and easiest way to get your certificate. Simply contact the team at SoCal VA Homes to get started today!