* This site is privately owned and is not affiliated or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other government agency.

Certification of Eligibility


Certification of Eligibility (COE) is a document issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. It verifies a veteran, service member, or eligible family member’s entitlement to VA benefits, such as home loans or education benefits. The COE serves as an official confirmation of eligibility based on the individual’s military service record.

Key Takeaways

  1. Certification of Eligibility (COE) is a document issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs that verifies a veteran, service member, or surviving spouse’s eligibility for VA home loan benefits.
  2. To obtain a COE, applicants must submit the appropriate forms and documentation, such as DD Form 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty) for veterans, or a current statement of service for active duty service members.
  3. Once obtained, the COE can be presented to lenders to show that the applicant is eligible for a VA-backed loan, which offers advantages such as no down payment requirement, competitive interest rates, and no private mortgage insurance (PMI) necessary.


The Certification of Eligibility (COE) is a crucial document within the VA benefits system, as it serves as official proof that a veteran, active-duty service member, reservist, or surviving spouse is eligible for home loan benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

This essential piece of documentation is not only a requirement for VA-backed loans but also helps streamline the loan process, providing lenders with the necessary information to determine appropriate loan terms, interest rates, and conditions.

By validating an individual’s entitlement to VA benefits and outlining their available funding, the COE plays a vital role in expediting and simplifying the path to homeownership for many who have served or are currently serving in the U.S.



The purpose of the Certification of Eligibility (COE) within the context of VA benefits is to officially verify and communicate the eligibility of a veteran, service member, or qualifying family member to avail support for a certain benefit program. By obtaining this crucial document, the holder is demonstrating that they meet the specific criteria set forth by the Department of Veterans Affairs, whether it’s related to educational support, VA-backed home loans, or any other assistance provided by the VA.

The COE not only establishes the beneficiary’s right to receive such benefits but also facilitates a smoother process when applying for requisite services. A primary use of the COE is in conjunction with VA home loans, a significant benefit offered to veterans, service members, and their families.

This certification serves as an official validation of the individual’s entitlement to the benefits provided by the VA home loan program, such as lower interest rates, a more streamlined application process, and the ability to finance homes without the requirement of a down payment. Additionally, the COE provides valuable information on the individual’s entitlement, including the loan amount they are eligible for, which helps both the beneficiary and the lender assess available options and make informed decisions.

Furthermore, the COE plays an essential role in unlocking other VA benefit programs, ultimately serving as a key facilitator in improving the quality of life for those who have served their country and their families.

Examples of Certification of Eligibility

A Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is a document issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that verifies a veteran’s eligibility for VA home loan benefits. Here are three real-world examples related to obtaining a Certificate of Eligibility:

A veteran wants to purchase a home using a VA loan: A potential homebuyer who is a military veteran would need to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility from the VA to confirm their eligibility for a VA home loan. Once the applicant receives the COE, they can present it to a mortgage lender to begin the VA loan process.

A surviving spouse of a veteran wants to secure a VA loan: In this case, the surviving spouse would need to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility to confirm their entitlement as the spouse of a deceased service member. To do so, they must complete the VA Form 26-1817 and provide necessary documentation, such as a copy of the veteran’s death certificate and proof of their marriage. Once approved, they can use the COE to apply for a VA home loan in their name.

A veteran seeking to refinance an existing VA loan: If a veteran with an existing VA loan wants to refinance their mortgage under the VA’s Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL) program, they will also need a Certificate of Eligibility. They must apply for a new COE, which will verify their current eligibility and the remaining entitlement amount. Once they have the COE, they can proceed with the refinance process and potentially secure a lower interest rate on their VA loan.

FAQ: Certification of Eligibility for VA Benefits

What is a Certification of Eligibility?

A Certification of Eligibility (COE) is a document that verifies an individual’s eligibility for VA-backed home loan benefits. An individual must have served in the military or be a qualifying spouse to receive this certificate.

How do I obtain a Certification of Eligibility?

You can obtain a COE through the eBenefits portal, by mail, or through your lender. To apply online, visit the eBenefits website and complete the application process. Alternatively, you can submit VA Form 26-1880 by mail, or provide your lender with the required information to obtain the COE on your behalf.

What information do I need to provide when applying for a COE?

When applying for a COE, you will need to provide your personal information, military service history, and details about any past VA home loan usage. You may also need to provide proof of service or discharge papers (such as DD Form 214) or other documentation that verifies your eligibility for VA benefits.

How long does it take to receive a COE?

The processing time for obtaining a COE varies depending on the method of application. If you apply online through the eBenefits portal, you may receive your COE instantly or within a few days. If you apply by mail, it can take several weeks for your application to be processed. If you work with a lender who has access to the WebLGY system, they may be able to obtain your COE within minutes.

Can I still apply for a VA home loan if I cannot locate my COE?

Yes, you can still apply for a VA home loan without having your COE in hand. Your lender can help you obtain the COE during the loan application process. Keep in mind that having your COE is a requirement for obtaining a VA-backed loan, but it is not necessary to have it before starting the application process.

Do I need a new COE every time I apply for a VA home loan?

No, a COE does not expire, and you can reuse your COE for subsequent VA home loan applications. However, if you have used your VA loan benefits before, you may need to restore your entitlement before applying for a new loan. Your lender can help you with this process and obtain an updated COE that reflects your restored entitlement.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Loan Guaranty
  • Post-9/11 GI Bill
  • Disability Compensation
  • Veterans Pension
  • Survivors’ Benefits

Sources for More Information