VA Entitlement Codes 2019


Posted on: October 18, 2019

To qualify for a VA loan, you will need to provide your certificate of eligibility to your lender. A certificate of eligibility (COE) proves that you’re entitled to VA home loan benefits. You can request this directly from the VA — or have your lender request it for you.

See if you’re entitled to VA home loan benefits.

What is a VA entitlement code?

VA entitlement codes specify when you performed the service that entitles you to the benefits that come with a VA loan. At its most basic, an entitlement code simply tells you how you are entitled to the VA home loan benefit.

For example, VA entitlement code 10 means you served or are serving during the Persian Gulf War. That’s anytime between Aug. 2, 1990, and now. If you served for at least two years during that period or were on active duty for 90 days or longer, you should be eligible. The main exception is if you were dishonorably discharged.

Other entitlement codes relate to other eras — both peacetime and wars — or to other statuses. For example, some spouses of veterans and servicemembers are entitled.

Everything you need to know about VA entitlement codes

Your COE entitlement code (1-11) identifies either the time (also known as era) when you earned your entitlement or another cause that makes you eligible for VA benefits. In addition to the entitlement code, the VA has established minimum service requirements to the day and other eligible person statuses for establishing entitlement.

The three tables below breakdown each of these in more detail.

Table 1: VA Entitlement Codes

Entitlement codes begin with World War II, which carries entitlement code 01. Service codes exist for every era since, both peacetime and wartime.

It’s worth noting entitlement code 05 — “entitlement restored.” This applies if you used up your eligibility on a previous home purchase, but have since sold the home and have repaid the loan in full. Your entitlement may also be restored if someone else with VA-loan eligibility agrees to assume (take over) the old loan from you.

Entitlement Code Era*
01 World War II
02 Korean War
03 Post-Korean War
04 Vietnam War
05 Entitlement Restored
06 Un-remarried Surviving Spouse
07 Spouse of POW/MIA
08 Post-World War II
09 Post-Vietnam
10 Persian Gulf War
11 Selected Reserves

*Era denotes the separation, effective, or dishonorable discharge era. Note: Veterans with a dishonorable discharge are not eligible for VA benefits.

Table 2: Dates that correspond to the above eras

The VA also checks your service record to confirm it precisely conforms with the following requirements — to the day. The right-hand column shows the minimum service requirement in each era.

Era Dates Minimum Service*
WWII 9/16/1940 – 7/25/1947 90 continuous days
Peacetime 7/26/1947 – 6/26/1950 181 days
Korean 6/27/1950 – 1/31/1955 90 days
Post-Korean 2/1/1955 – 8/4/1964 181 days
Vietnam 8/5/1964 – 5/7/1975 90 days
Post-Vietnam 5/8/1975 – 9/7/1980 181 days
Post-Vietnam 9/8/1980 – 8/1/1990  2 years
Persian Gulf 8/2/1990 – undetermined 2 years or active-duty period, not less than 90 days

Table 3: Other ways you may be eligible for a VA benefits

This table outlines some important exceptions, especially for spouses. For example, an “un-remarried spouse of a Veteran who died while in service or from a service-connected disability” is eligible regardless of his or her late spouse’s time served.

The spouse of a service member who’s been MIA or a POW for at least 90 days automatically gains entitlement.

Other Eligible Persons Minimum Service Required
Active Duty 90 continuous days (181 in peacetime)
Active Reserve or Nat. Guard 6 years in Selected Reserves
Unmarried Surviving Spouse No time requirement
Spouse of POW/MIA Veteran has been POW/MIA for 90 days

How to get your certificate of eligibility

Your first step towards getting a VA loan is to obtain your certificate of eligibility (COE).

It’s straightforward for you to do this yourself via the VA’s website. If you’re a veteran, you’ll need to upload your DD214 form. If you’re still serving, you’ll need a statement of your service signed by your “adjutant, personnel office, or commander of the unit or higher headquarters.” Whoever prepares it will know the information it must contain.

However, it’s even easier to get your lender to do this work for you. If you provide your DD214 or statement of service, then the lender can get your COE directly from the VA on your behalf.

Read more: DD214 Form Request

How basic vs. bonus entitlement works

If you’re an eligible veteran, your basic entitlement is $36,000.

It’s a common misconception that this means you can only borrow $36,000. But in fact, this is the cash sum the VA will pay to your mortgage lender should you default on your loan — either $36,000 or 25% of the total loan, whichever is less. This means for zero downpayment most VA-approved lenders will loan you $144,000 on a basic entitlement.

But, what if you want to buy a home in a state where home prices are much higher? This is where your bonus entitlement can help. It’s also sometimes referred to as second-tier entitlement.

In fact, you may actually be able to borrow up to $484,350, which is the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA’s) cap on conforming loans in 2019. (The VA follows the same borrowing limits as the FHFA.)

The VA uses this national conventional conforming loan limit to determine your bonus entitlement. Since the VA typically covers 25% of your loan amount, you may be entitled to a bonus entitlement of 25% of $484,350, or $121, 087 (less your basic entitlement of $36,000).

This leaves you with $85,087 in second-tier entitlement. Most lenders allow you to borrow up to four times your entitlement, giving you a potential loan limit of $340,350 — in addition to the $144,000 loan limit from your basic entitlement — bringing you up to the national conforming loan limit of $484,350.

More about VA home loan eligibility

If you want more information about VA home loan benefit eligibility, see our VA home loan eligibility page. If you still have questions about entitlement codes, your COE, or your VA home loan eligibility, call (866) 240-3742 and speak to a licensed VA mortgage professional or complete a short online request form and a VA lender will contact you.