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Eligibility requirements for VA home loan programs

Learn about VA home loan eligibility requirements for a VA direct or VA-backed loan. Find out how to request a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to show your lender that you qualify based on your service history and duty status. Keep in mind that for a VA-backed home loan, you’ll also need to meet your lender’s credit and income loan requirements to receive financing.

Can I get a Certificate of Eligibility for a VA direct or VA-backed home loan?

You may be able to get a COE if you didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge and you meet the minimum active-duty service requirement based on when you served.

Minimum active-duty service requirements

For service members

If you’ve served for at least 90 continuous days (all at once, without a break in service), you meet the minimum active-duty service requirement.

For Veterans

The minimum active-duty service requirements depend on when you served.

When did you serve?

You meet the minimum active-duty service requirement if you served for: 

  • At least 24 continuous months, or
  • The full period (at least 90 days) for which you were called or ordered to active duty, or
  • At least 90 days if you were discharged for a hardship, or a reduction in force, or
  • Less than 90 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability
     

You meet the minimum active-duty service requirement if you served for: 

  • At least 24 continuous months, or
  • The full period (at least 181 days) for which you were called to active duty, or
  • At least 181 days if you were discharged for a hardship, or a reduction in force, or
  • Less than 181 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability
     

You meet the minimum active-duty service requirement if you served for: 

  • At least 24 continuous months, or
  • The full period (at least 181 days) for which you were called to active duty, or
  • At least 181 days if you were discharged for a hardship, or a reduction in force, or
  • Less than 181 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability
     

You meet the minimum active-duty service requirement if you served for: 

  • 181 continuous days, or
  • Less than 181 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability
     

You meet the minimum active-duty service requirement if you served for: 

  • 181 continuous days, or
  • Less than 181 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability

You meet the minimum active-duty service requirement if you served for: 

  • At least 90 total days, or
  • Less than 90 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability

You meet the minimum active-duty service requirement if you served for: 

  • At least 90 total days, or
  • Less than 90 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability
     

You meet the minimum active-duty service requirement if you served for: 

  • At least 181 total days, or
  • Less than 181 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability
     

You meet the minimum active-duty service requirement if you served for: 

  • At least 90 total days, or
  • Less than 90 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability
     

You meet the minimum active-duty service requirement if you served for: 

  • At least 181 continuous days, or
  • Less than 181 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability
     

You meet the minimum active-duty service requirement if you served for: 

  • At least 90 total days, or
  • Less than 90 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability
     

For National Guard members

The minimum active-duty service requirements depend on when you served.

When did you serve?

If you’ve served for at least 90 days of active duty, you meet the minimum service requirement.

You meet the minimum active-duty service requirement if you served for: 

  • At least 90 days of non-training active-duty service, or
  • At least 90 days of active-duty service including at least 30 consecutive days (your DD214 must show 32 USC sections 316, 502, 503, 504, or 505 activation), or
  • 6 creditable years in the National Guard and you were discharged honorably or placed on the retired list
     

For Reserve members

The minimum active-duty service requirements depend on when you served.

When did you serve?

If you served for at least 90 days of active duty, you meet the minimum service requirement.

You meet the minimum active-duty service requirement if you served for: 

  • At least 90 days of non-training active-duty service, or
  • 6 creditable years in the Selected Reserve 

And at least one of these must be true:

  • You were discharged honorably, or
  • You were placed on the retired list, or
  • You were transferred to the Standby Reserve or an element of the Ready Reserve other than the Selected Reserve after service characterized as honorable, or
  • You continue to serve in the Selected Reserve
     

How do I request my COE?

What if I don’t meet the minimum service requirements?

You may still be able to get a COE if you were discharged for one of the reasons listed here.

You must have been discharged for one of these reasons:

  • Hardship, or
  • The convenience of the government (you must have served at least 20 months of a 2-year enlistment), or
  • Early out (you must have served 21 months of a 2-year enlistment), or 
  • Reduction in force, or
  • Certain medical conditions, or
  • A service-connected disability (a disability related to your military service)

What should I do if I received an other than honorable, bad conduct, or dishonorable discharge?

If you’ve received an other than honorable, bad conduct, or dishonorable discharge, you may not be eligible for VA benefits. 

There are 2 ways you can try to qualify:

Find out how to apply for a discharge upgrade

Learn about the VA Character of Discharge review process

Can I get a COE as the spouse of a Veteran?

You may be able to get a COE if you’re the surviving spouse of a Veteran or the spouse of a Veteran who’s missing in action or being held as a prisoner of war (POW).

Find out how to request a COE as a surviving spouse

Can I get a COE in any other situations?

You may be able to get a COE if you meet at least one of these requirements.

At least one of these must be true:

  • You’re a U.S. citizen who served in the Armed Forces of a government allied with the United States in World War II, or
  • You served as a member in certain organizations

These roles in organizations can include:

  • Public Health Service officer
  • Cadet at the United States Military, Air Force, or Coast Guard Academy
  • Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy
  • Officer of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
  • Merchant seaman during World War II

Can I use a COE I used before?

You may be able to “restore” an entitlement you used in the past to buy another home with a VA direct or VA-backed loan if you meet at least one of these requirements.

At least one of these must be true:

  • You’ve sold the home you bought with the prior loan and have paid that loan in full, or
  • A qualified Veteran-transferee agrees to assume your loan and substitute their entitlement for the same amount of entitlement you used originally, or
  • You’ve repaid your prior loan in full, but haven’t sold the home you bought with that loan (you can only do this one time)

To request an entitlement restoration, fill out a Request for a Certificate of Eligibility (VA Form 26-1880) and send it to the VA regional loan center for your state.

Get VA Form 26-1880 to download

Find your state’s VA regional loan center

What if I have questions about my eligibility?

If you have any questions about your eligibility for a VA home loan, please call your VA regional loan center at 877-827-3702. We’re here Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET.