Obtaining a COE
Everything You Need to Know About Getting a VA Loan Certificate of Eligibility
Military members and veterans living in the Hawaiian Islands have a number of benefits available to them, including the ability to obtain a VA loan certificate of eligibility (COE). This document is essential in the process of obtaining a VA home loan, but it can be difficult to understand exactly how to get one. In this article, we will outline the process of obtaining a COE.
When you’re applying for a VA home loan, a COE is a document that verifies to lenders that you are, in fact, eligible for the VA-backed loan. It is issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs and contains important information about your military service, including dates of service and type of discharge. This document is essential in beginning the process of obtaining a Hawaii VA loan and will signal to the lender that you are qualified for the program.
In addition to meeting a lender’s specific credit and income requirements, you must also meet a list of criteria to qualify for a COE. As a veteran, these include:
A qualified Honolulu VA loan officer can help you to establish where you stand in terms of eligibility.
The certificate of eligibility includes a reference number, service number, social security number, your entitlement code, branch of service, and date of birth. It will also list any prior VA loans that you have obtained. Contrary to popular belief, you can obtain more than one VA home loan in your lifetime, and even more than one at the same time (if you still have remaining eligibility). The certificate of eligibility also contains important information on your home loan benefits. These include the type of benefit to which you’re entitled, and the amount of your entitlement.
01: World War II
02: Korean War
03: Post-Korean War
04: Vietnam War
05: Entitlement Restored (meaning you had a previous VA loan that was paid in full and you’re now eligible for another one)
06: Surviving Spouse
07: Spouse of POW/MIA
08: Post-World War II
10: Persian Gulf War
Your entitlement code will also tell lenders if you’re subject to paying a higher funding fee because you’ve used your VA home mortgage benefits before, or if you are exempt due to a service-connected disability. The funding fee is a percentage of the loan amount that helps offset the cost of administrating the VA home loan program. Your VA loan officer will help you navigate the funding fee, if necessary, as well as any other unique circumstances regarding your home loan eligibility.
The requirements are not copious, however, there are specific non-negotiable documents that you’ll need in order to apply for your COE. You will need a completed VA Form 26-1880, which a VA loan officer can help you fill out accurately. You’ll also need to provide documentation of your military service, including your DD Form 214 (Discharge Papers). A statement of service can sometimes be provided in lieu of the DD Form 214. This statement must come from your commanding officer, and should include your pay rate while you were serving in the military. Again, a VA loan officer is the best person to help you ensure that you have all of the required documentation in hand before you apply for your COE.
You will obtain a COE from the Department of Veterans Affairs. This can be done online, by mail, or through a lender. The process for each option is outlined below:
VA Loan Officer: You can work with an accredited VA loan officer, who will help you to obtain your COE quickly and efficiently. Your VA loan officer will help you to get all of the required supporting documentation and should have access to the Automated Certificate of Eligibility (ACE) database. The ACE database is the most efficient way to obtain a COE as it allows VA-approved lenders to access the document within seconds.
Online: You can fill out the VA Form 26-1880 and submit it electronically. Remember that you will need to provide documentation of your military service, as well as your DD Form 214 (Discharge Papers). You can also register at ebenefits.va.gov and pull your COE within minutes as well.
By Mail: This is definitely the most time and labor-intensive process. This method can take weeks. You can fill out and print the VA Form 26-1880 and submit it by mail. Again, you will also need to provide documentation of your military service, as well as your DD Form 214 (Discharge Papers).
Download VA Form 26-1880 here
Once you have applied for your COE, the Department of Veterans Affairs will process your application and send you a Certificate of Eligibility.
If you apply online or working a VA loan specialist, you should be able to pull your COE within minutes.
You can get pre-approved for a loan without a COE, but you will not be able to finalize the loan until you obtain one. Also, it is important to have your COE pulled early in the VA loan process to ensure there are no errors or omissions.
Once you have your COE, it means that you’re eligible to apply for a VA home loan. Your VA mortgage broker will then help you to complete a VA Loan Application. Your loan officer will work with you to get your home loan approved and closed so that you can start enjoying your new home!
Get in touch with Elias Halvorson to learn more about obtaining your COE and how he can help you finance the purchase of your new home in Hawaii.
Elias Halvorson has over a decade of experience in the industry and is one of the top Honolulu VA mortgage brokers in this specialized field.