Department of Veterans Services

Home Loans

Eligibility for the VA Home Loan Program

Who's Eligible for a VA-Backed Loan? 

  • Veterans
  • Active duty personnel
  • Reservists/National Guard members
  • Some surviving spouses

How Do I Prove to the Lender that I’m Eligible?

You’ll need a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) before you can get a VA-backed loan.  This section shows how you can apply for one. 

Among categories A, B, and C below, find the one that matches your situation.

Category A:  Veterans, Active Duty, and Reservists/National Guard Members Who Have Served on Active Duty

You can get a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) in any of three ways:

  1. Apply online.  Go to the eBenefits portal (http://www.ebenefits.va.gov) and click on the My eBenefits tab towards the top, on the left side.  It will open a screen with several benefit areas.  On the bottom right of the screen is the Housing tab.  You will need login credentials to request a Certificate of Eligibility (COE).  If you have them, enter your Username and Password, if you need to request login credentials, you can simply click on the "Request/Activate a DoD Self-Service Logon" link which is shown below the area where you logon.
  2. Apply through the lender.  In many cases, lenders can obtain a Certificate online in minutes.  Check the table below entitled, “Evidence Needed for the Certificate of Eligibility.”
  3. Apply by mail.  Use VA Form 26-1880.  Return it to the address shown on the form. If you can’t print the form, just call 1-888-244-6711 and follow the prompts for Eligibility.  We can mail it to you.

Evidence you’ll need when you apply (Category A)


Category B:  Reservists/National Guard Members Who Have Never Served on Active Duty 

You can get a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) in any of three ways:

  1. Apply online.  Go to the eBenefits portal (http://www.ebenefits.va.gov) and click on the My eBenefits tab towards the top, on the left side.  It will open a screen with several benefit areas.  On the bottom right of the screen is the Housing tab.  You will need login credentials to request a Certificate of Eligibility (COE).  If you have them, enter your Username and Password, if you need to request login credentials, you can simply click on the "Request/Activate a DoD Self-Service Logon" link which is shown below the area where you logon.
  2. Apply through the lender.  Your lender can submit your application online for you.  Check the table below entitled, “Evidence Needed for the Certificate of Eligibility.”
  3. Apply by mail.  Use VA Form 26-1880. If you can’t print the form, just call 1-888-244-6711 and follow the prompts for Eligibility.  We can mail it to you.

Evidence you’ll need when you apply (Category B)


Category C:  Surviving Spouses of Veterans Who Died In Service or As a Result of Service

You must apply for the Certificate by mail. 

If your veteran spouse died after service, VA must determine that the death was due to a service-connected disability.  Please allow 2-3 months for this process unless you know that the decision on service-connected death has already been made.

Apply using VA Form 26-1817.  If you can’t print the form, just call 1-888-244-6711 and follow the prompts for Eligibility.  We can mail it to you.

Send the completed form to:

VA Loan Eligibility Center
PO Box 20729
Winston-Salem, NC 27120

Evidence you’ll need when you apply (Category C)


What Evidence Will I Need to Get the Certificate?

The evidence you need depends on the nature of your eligibility.  This chart explains.

Evidence Needed for the Certificate of Eligibility

If you are. . .

You should submit . . .

Veteran
(Includes a member or former member of the National Guard or Reserves who was once activated for Federal Service)

DD Form 214; We are required to have a copy showing the character of service (item 24) and the narrative reason for separation (item 28). 

Active duty servicemember

A current statement of service

signed by (or by the direction of):
the adjutant, personnel office, or commander of the unit or higher headquarters

showing:
Your full name
Social Security Number
Date of birth
Entry date on active duty
The duration of any lost time
The name of the command providing the information

Back to Category A

If you are. . .

You should submit . . .         

Serving now in the Selected Reserve or the National Guard and have never been activated for federal service

Statement of service

signed by (or by the direction of):
the adjutant, personnel officer or commander of your unit or higher headquarters

showing:
Your full name
Social Security Number
Date of birth
Entry date on duty
The total number of creditable years of service
The duration of any lost time
The name of the command providing the information

A discharged member of the National Guard who has never been activated for federal service

Either:
NGB Form 22, Report of Separation and Record of Service, for each period of National Guard service
OR
NGB Form 23, Retirement Points Accounting, and proof of the character of service

A discharged member of the Selected Reserve who has never been activated for federal service

Copy of your latest annual retirement points statement and evidence of honorable service

 
Back to Category B

If you are. . .

You should submit . . .     

The surviving spouse of a servicemember who died on active duty

If you’re already receiving Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), you don’t need to send any documents.

If you don’t receive DIC, please send us

  • A copy of the DD Form 1300 (Report of Casualty) from the military
  • A copy of your marriage certificate

It would be a good idea to add a simple signed statement saying that you would like to apply for DIC.  If you qualify for the home loan benefit, you probably qualify for monthly payments under DIC.

Put the servicemember’s Social Security number on all documents.

The surviving spouse of a veteran who died as a result of military service

If you’re already receiving Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), send us a copy of your award letter.
(Generally, you will already have a record on file at a VA regional benefits office.)

If you don’t receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), please send us

  • A copy of the veteran’s DD Form 214
  • A copy of the veteran’s death certificate
  • A copy of your marriage certificate

We recommend that you add a simple signed statement saying that you would like to apply for DIC.  If you qualify for the home loan benefit, you probably qualify for monthly payments under DIC.

Put the veteran’s Social Security number on all documents.

Back to Category C