What is a VA Entitlement Code? | Guide to VA Entitlement 2024

Tim Lucas
Military VA Loan editor

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 service members are entitled.

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 and indicates your VA entitlement code. 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 (May 29th, 2024)

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 military service requirements to the day and other eligible person statuses for establishing entitlement.

The three tables below break down 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 Unremarried 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 Enlisted Date 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 or full period to which called, not less than 90 days (any part in wartime) or 181 days (peacetime)**
Persian Gulf 8/2/1990 – undetermined 2 years or full period to which called, not less than 90 days

**Veterans who were discharged prior to meeting the minimum service requirement may still be eligible if released due to a service-connected disability.

**For more explanation for service during the mid-Post-Vietnam era (1980) see pages 2-15 of the VA Handbook here.

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

This table outlines some important exceptions, especially for spouses. For example, an “unremarried 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

Common Entitlement Codes

Your entitlement code is a key piece of the VA mortgage process. Without an entitlement code, you won’t be able to move forward with a VA loan. 

Here’s a closer look at the common entitlement codes you should know about. 

VA Entitlement Code 05

Even if you’ve purchased a home using the VA loan in the past, you may still be eligible to buy a new home using this loan product. However, you’ll need to have an entitlement code 05 to move forward. 

Basically, a VA entitlement code 5 means that your entitlement has been restored. It is possible to restore your VA entitlement if you have sold the home, repaid the loan in full or someone else with a VA loan eligibility assumed your old loan. 

First-time homebuyers using the VA loan shouldn’t see this entitlement code. Instead, you’ll see a code that corresponds to your military service era. If you have already used the VA loan, you will owe an increased VA funding fee as you continue the loan process. 

VA Entitlement Code 09

Veterans who served in the Post-Vietnam era received an entitlement code 09. 

In order to receive this eligible code, veterans must have served 181 days between 5/8/1975 and 9/7/1980. Since this was peacetime, the service requirements are a bit longer to receive your eligibility for a VA loan. 

VA Entitlement Code 10

Veterans who served in the Persian Gulf War will have an entitlement code 10.

In order to receive this code, you must have served after 8/2/1990. Plus, meet the minimum service requirements that all veteran borrowers seeking to use the VA loan must adhere to. For example, you won’t receive an entitlement code if you were dishonorably discharged. 

VA Entitlement Code 11

An entitlement code 11 indicates that a Reservist has met the minimum requirements to take advantage of a VA loan. As a Reservist, you’ll need to serve at least six years in the Selected Reserves to qualify. However, if you were activated, that time requirement may be shorter. 

For example, National Guard members that complete their service requirements will see an entitlement code 11. 

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. 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 down payment 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.

Bonus entitlement enables you to borrow up to the allowable VA loan limit in your county. Starting January 1, 2020, VA repealed loan limits nationwide.

So now you can get a zero-down VA loan for any amount, thanks to these new rules.

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) 313-3143 and speak to a licensed VA mortgage professional or complete a short online request form and a VA lender will contact you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a VA entitlement code?

A VA entitlement code indicates when you performed services that make you eligible for a VA loan. For example, those with an entitlement code of ‘01’ served in World War II. 

Although different veterans have different entitlement codes, the exact code matters less than the fact that you have one. That’s because veterans with an entitlement code are eligible for the VA loan. But those without an entitlement code at all will not be able to tap into this attractive mortgage product. 

How do you read VA entitlement?

When you receive your VA loan Certificate of Eligibility, you’ll find that your entitlement may have two parts. First, you’ll see a basic VA entitlement, which is typically $36,000. With that full entitlement amount, a loan of up to $144,000 is VA-guaranteed. 

Additionally, you may see a bonus entitlement on the certificate of eligibility. But this bonus entitlement will only be available if you live in certain counties. For veterans living in high-cost counties, the bonus entitlement means that the Department of Veterans Affairs will guarantee a higher loan amount. Typically, the maximum loan guarantee amount tops out at the maximum conforming loan limit. 

What is VA entitlement code 10?

If you have a VA entitlement code 10, that means you served in the Persian Gulf War. With that, you must have served sometime after 8/2/1990 for two years or at least 90 days. 

What does VA entitlement code 5 mean?

VA entitlement code 5 means that your entitlement has been restored. Suppose you’ve previously used up your eligibility to purchase a home. In that case, you can regain your eligibility if you have sold the home, repaid the loan in full, or someone else with a VA loan eligibility assumed your old loan. 

Essentially, a VA entitlement code 5 means that you are able to purchase another home using the VA loan, even if you’ve used the VA loan in the past. 

See if you're entitled to VA home loan benefits (May 29th, 2024)