When you decide to use a VA Loan, you may be excited about the prospect…
With few exceptions, civilians are not eligible to use the VA Loan. The VA Loan is designed to be a benefit that military personnel earn while on active duty. It can also be used by military Reservists and National Guard members who meet the time in service requirements.
Veterans who are separated or retired from military service can use their VA Loan benefit once they are no longer on active duty. This means that they can use their VA Loan while they are civilians. But they had to have served on active duty and meet the minimum time requirements. These vary based on when they are served but are generally between 90 and 181 days.
The only civilians that are able to use the VA Loan are surviving spouses of military members who were killed while on active duty, surviving spouses of those listed as Missing in Action (MIA), and spouses of those listed as current Prisoners of War (POW).
In order to show that you are eligible to use the VA Loan, you will need to order a Certificate of Eligibilty (COE) from the Department of Veterans Affairs. This document shows the time that you were in service as well as how much of the VA Loan entitlement you have remaining. If it is your first time using the VA Loan, you do not have a limit to the entitlement. If you have already used your VA Loan at least one time, you may have a limit to the amount that is left.
This COE goes from the VA to your lender. You can order it online through the VA’s eBenefits system or through the mail. Many lenders, especially those with experience with the VA Loan, can submit the request on your behalf with your signed permission.