In order to obtain a VA home loan, you must first get a VA Home Loan Certificate of Eligibility (COE). This certificate is issued only through the Veterans Administration. Veterans, active duty, guard and reserve members, and military spouses all potentially qualify for this certificate. Keep in mind that the COE, while necessary, only allows an eligible individual to apply for a home loan; it does not guarantee loan approval.
Eligibility for the COE is based on an individual's (or a spouse's) military service. First, see if you are eligible based on the major categories below. If you are, follow these instructions to get your COE.
1. Wartime - Service During:
- WWII: 9/16/1940 to 7/25/1947
- Korean: 6/27/1950 to 1/31/1955
- Vietnam: 8/5/1964 to 5/7/1975
You must have at least 90 days on active duty and been discharged under conditions other than "dishonorable". If you served less than 90 days, you may be eligible if you were discharged for a service-connected disability.
2. Peacetime - Service during periods:
- 7/26/1947 to 6/26/1950
- 2/1/1955 to 8/4/1964
- 5/8/1975 to 9/7/1980 (Enlisted)
- 5/8/1975 to 10/16/1981 (Officer)
You must have served at least 181 days of continuous active duty and been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. If you served less than 181 days, you may be eligible if you were discharged for a service-connected disability.
3. Service after 9/7/1980 (enlisted) or 10/16/1981 (officer)
If you were separated from service which began after these dates, you must have:
- Completed 24 months of continuous active duty or the full period (at least 181 days) for which you were ordered or called to active duty and been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, or
- Completed at least 181 days of active duty and were discharged under the specific authority of 10 USC 1173 (Hardship), or 10 USC 1171 (Early Out), or were determined to have a compensable service-connected disability;
- Were discharged with less than 181 days of service due to a service-connected disability. You may also be eligible if you were released from active duty due to an involuntary reduction in force, certain medical conditions, or, in some instances for the convenience of the government.
4. Gulf War - Service during period 8/2/1990 to date yet to be determined
If you served on active duty during the Gulf War, you must have:
- Completed 24 months of continuous active duty or the full period (at least 90 days) for which you were called or ordered to active duty, and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, or
- Completed at least 90 days of active duty and were discharged under the specific authority of 10 USC 1173 (Hardship), or 10 USC 1173 (Early Out), or were been determined to have a compensable service-connected disability, or
- Were discharged with less than 90 days of service for a service-connected disability. You may also be eligible if you were released from active duty due to an involuntary reduction in force, certain medical conditions, or, in some instances, for the convenience of the government.
5. Active Duty Service Personnel
If you are now on regular duty (not active duty for training), you are eligible after having served 181 days (90 days during the Gulf War) unless discharged or separated from a previous qualifying period of active duty service.
If you are not otherwise eligible for a VA loan according to the major categories above, you could still be eligible if you fall under one of these categories:
Selected Reserves or National Guard
You need to have completed a total of 6 years in the Selected Reserves or National Guard (member of an active unit, attended required weekend drills and 2-week active duty for training) and:
- Were discharged with an honorable discharge, 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 service, or
- Continue to serve in the Selected Reserves
If you've completed less than 6 years of service, you may be eligible if discharged for a service-connected disability.
You may also be determined eligible if you:
- Are an unremarried spouse of a veteran who died while in service or from a service connected disability, or
- Are a spouse of a service member missing in action or a prisoner of war
Note: If you are a surviving spouse, you may also be eligible for VA loan benefits. Read the article VA Loan Eligibility Expands for Surviving Spouses for more details.
Eligibility may also be established for:
- Certain United States citizens who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in WW II.
- Individuals with service as members in certain organizations, such as Public Health Service officers, cadets at the United States Military, Air Force, or Coast Guard Academy, midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy, officers of National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, merchant seaman with WW II service, and others.
For more details related to VA loan eligibility, see the related articles below. If you've determined your eligibility and received your Certificate of Eligibility, it's time to move on to the next step: see if you qualify – there are no obligations and you’ll get several quotes from competing lenders.
Related VA Loan Eligibility Articles: