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How to Apply for a VA Certificate of Eligibility

Borrowers who have never applied for a VA home loan before may wonder how to apply for a VA certificate of eligibility or COE. There are many ways to apply, including by regular postal mail, but the Department of Veterans Affairs encourages new VA borrowers to request the for electronically using the Veterans Information Portal or VIP.

Using the VIP requires the borrower to set up an account in order to fill out forms and furnish personal data. Many VA loan applicants are computer-savvy and have no trouble doing this, but others may needs some additional help; the VA encourages borrowers to work with their lender in these cases–the loan officer can apply for the borrower to get the certificate.

In all cases, the VA instructs loan officers to “print out a copy and retain it with their origination loan documents. Once a loan has been closed and guaranteed, lenders should submit a copy of the COE with the loan package if the case is identified for full review.”

Borrowers can request the lender supply them with a copy of the COE for their own records.

There are some cases where a VA certificate of eligibility can’t be issued quickly, or in cases of second-time VA loan applicants, eligibility needs to be restored before the loan can proceed. For these situations, the VA may require more information or proof of service from the military member. These documents can be submitted electronically according to the VA:

“…lenders should select the electronic application link that permits them to submit an electronic application to the Eligibility Center…(the system) allows lenders to upload documentation, such as discharge papers or evidence to support restoration (HUD-1 etc.), along with the electronic application.”

The electronic application should be filled out first, then supporting documents can be uploaded. While all of this may be conducted by regular U.S. postal mail, the process is much faster when submitting electronically. VA processing time is much faster when all documents are submitted via the Internet.

The VA rulebook points out that borrowers who can’t get their eligibility by way of the VIP system are not automatically considered ineligible. “only that the system does not have sufficient information to make an automatic determination.  Lenders should always continue the application process as described…’

About Joe Wallace

Joe Wallace has been specializing in military and personal finance topics since 1995. His work has appeared on Air Force Television News, The Pentagon Channel, ABC and a variety of print and online publications. He is a 13-year Air Force veteran and a member of the Air Force Public Affairs Alumni Association.

2 Responses to How to Apply for a VA Certificate of Eligibility

  1. Debby Galloway says:

    2 weeks ago I applied in US Mail for a COE for Paul Clark, Superior, MT. To date he has not received and concerned that this is not being processed in a timely manner; holding up buying a home. Please advise how to follow up or can I apply online after mailing a request?

    • Joe Wallace says:

      Two weeks isn’t long enough to receive and process an COE request by mail, but you should call the VA directly at 1-800 827-1000 for information on how long it could take with the current caseload and any work backlog that might be occurring at present.

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