VA Entitlement Codes 2021
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.
|01||World War II|
|06||Un-remarried Surviving Spouse|
|07||Spouse of POW/MIA|
|08||Post-World War II|
|10||Persian Gulf War|
*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 page 2-15 of the VA Handbook here.
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 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) 240-3742 and speak to a licensed VA mortgage professional or complete a short online request form and a VA lender will contact you.