To get a VA direct or VA-backed home loan, you’ll need a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to show your lender that you qualify for this benefit based on your service history and duty status. Find out if you can get a COE. Keep in mind that you’ll also need to meet your lender’s credit and income requirements to get a loan.
Can I get a COE?
You may be able to get a COE if you were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable and you meet the service requirements below.
When did you serve? You meet the minimum active-duty service requirement if you served for: Between September 16, 1940, and July 25, 1947 (WWII) 90 total days Between July 26, 1947, and June 26, 1950 (post-WWII period) 181 continuous days Between June 27, 1950, and January 31, 1955 (Korean War) 90 total days Between February 1, 1955, and August 4, 1964 (post-Korean War period) 90 total days Between August 5, 1964, and May 7, 1975 (Vietnam War), or
February 28, 1961, to May 7, 1975, if you served in the Republic of Vietnam
90 total days Between May 8, 1975, and September 7, 1980 (post-Vietnam War period), or
Between May 8, 1975, and October 16, 1981, if you served as an officer
181 continuous days Between September 8, 1980, and August 1, 1990, or
Between October 17, 1981, and August 1, 1990, if you served as an officer
- 24 continuous months, or
- The full period (at least 181 days) for which you were called to active duty
Between August 2, 1990, and the present (Gulf War)
- 24 continuous months, or
- The full period (at least 90 days) for which you were called or ordered to active duty
I’m on active duty now 90 continuous days
When did you serve? You meet the minimum active-duty service requirement if you served for: Between August 2, 1990, and the present (Gulf War) 90 continuous days of active service Any time period 6 creditable years in the Selected Reserve or National Guard, and you:
- Were discharged honorably, or
- Were placed on the retired list, or
- Were transferred to the Standby Reserve or an element of the Ready Reserve other than the Selected Reserve after service characterized as honorable, or
- Continue to serve in the Selected Reserve
Ready to apply?
What if I don’t meet the minimum service requirements?
You may still be able to get a COE if you were discharged due to:
- Hardship, or
- The convenience of the government, or
- Reduction in force, or
- Certain medical conditions, or
- A service-connected disability (a disability related to your military service)
If I have a less than honorable discharge, can I try to get my discharge upgraded so I can get a VA home loan?
Yes. You can apply for a discharge upgrade. If your application goes through and your discharge is upgraded, you’ll be eligible for the VA benefits you earned during your period of service.
Can I get a COE as the spouse of a Veteran?
You may be able to get a COE if you’re the spouse of a Veteran who:
- Is missing in action, or
- Is a prisoner of war (POW), or
- Died while in service or from a service-connected disability and you didn’t remarry, or
- Died while in service or from a service-connected disability and you didn’t remarry before you were 57 years old or before December 16, 2003, or
- Had been totally disabled and then died, but whose disability may not have been the cause of death (in certain situations)
Note: A surviving spouse who remarried before December 16, 2003, and on or after their 57th birthday, must have applied no later than December 15, 2004, to establish home loan eligibility. We must deny applications we received after December 15, 2004, from surviving spouses who remarried before December 16, 2003.
Can I get a COE in any other situations?
You may be able to get a COE if you:
- Are a U.S. citizen who served in the Armed Forces of a government allied with the United States in World War II, or
- Served as a member in certain organizations, such as a:
- Public Health Service officer
- Cadet at the United States Military, Air Force, or Coast Guard Academy
- Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy
- Officer of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
- Merchant seaman during World War II
Can I use a COE I used before?
You may be able to “restore” an entitlement you used in the past to buy another home with a VA direct or VA-backed loan if:
- You’ve sold the home you bought with the prior loan and have paid that loan in full, or
- A qualified Veteran-transferee agrees to assume your loan and substitute their entitlement for the same amount of entitlement you used originally, or
- You’ve repaid your prior loan in full, but haven’t sold the home you bought with that loan (you can only do this one time)
To request an entitlement restoration, fill out a Request for a Certificate of Eligibility (VA Form 26-1880) and send it to the VA regional loan center for your state.
Download VA Form 26-1880.
Find your state’s VA regional loan center.