One requirement that every person that applies for a VA loan must abide by is to provide the Certificate of Eligibility. This certificate shows the lender that you are eligible to receive VA benefits, such as the VA loan. The certificate is not hard to obtain, but you must meet certain requirements.
Starting the Process
When you are ready to apply for your Certificate of Eligibility, you need to gather certain paperwork to ensure that the process goes smoothly.
- Verifying your service – Most veterans can verify their service, including the branch they served in, with DD Form 214. The form shows the dates you served, the branch you worked in, and the reason you left the military. If you did not leave on an honorable discharge, your VA benefits could be at stake. If you currently serve in the military, a letter of your service dates and current status will suffice, as long as an official signs your statement.
- Verifying Reserves service – If you work in the Reserves rather than the active military, you can verify your service in much the same way as an active military personnel would. This means providing a statement of the dates you serve and any identifying information. An official also needs to sign this statement.
- Verifying your discharge – If you served in the National Guard or Reserves, you have to take an extra step to prove the reason for discharge. Any National Guard veterans should complete NGB Form 22. This form describes your service as well as the reason for your separation. Any Reserves personnel should obtain their Retirement Points statement as well as a signed statement that shows the reason you separated from the Reserves.
- Surviving spouses – Many surviving spouses can receive benefits if their spouse died during active duty, including the VA loan benefits. These spouses should complete VA Form 26-1817 alongside the DD Form 214 for eligibility.
Obtaining the Certificate of Eligibility
Obtaining the paperwork to secure the Certificate of Eligibility is usually the hardest part of the process. Once you have the paperwork, you can take the following steps to receive your certificate.
Most veterans opt to have their lender handle the process to obtain their COE. Lenders have instant access to the certificate with the right information. They use the Web LGY portal to access it. The success of this process, however, relies on the fact that you provided the VA with the pertinent information from above. If the VA does not have complete information, the lender cannot obtain the certificate for you.
If you prefer to handle things yourself, you can apply for your certificate on the eBenefits portal. This is the program where you can view your VA benefits. If the VA still needs information, you can easily provide it and obtain your certificate quickly. This process can be done 100% online, but if you prefer to deal with snail mail, you can complete VA Form 26-1880 to request your form. Surviving spouses also need to complete VA Form 26-1817 to receive their Certificate of Eligibility.
Because no lender can begin the VA loan process without the Certificate of Eligibility, it pays to start the process early. You never know what information you will miss or what you will have to go through with the VA to obtain your certificate. The good news is that once you obtain the certificate, you do not have to do it again. You can continue to reuse your entitlement in the future if you pay off your current loan or have any remaining entitlement to use, which any lender can verify for you.
When you work ahead to get the process done right away, you can prevent any delays in the processing of your VA loan. The VA has final say in whether or not you receive loan approval and without the certificate, it is not possible. If you have trouble, enlist the help of the lender to see what information you still need in order to speed the process up. Overall, though, the process of obtaining the Certificate of Eligibility and closing on a VA loan is fairly straightforward and simple to navigate.