DD214 Form: How to Request It Online & Start the VA Loan Process
Applying for a VA loan? The lender may ask for your DD Form 214 to confirm you’re eligible for the VA home loan benefit.
Not every VA lender will need your DD 214, but if your loan officer asks for the form, providing it will help keep your loan process on track.
What is a DD214?
The DD Form 214, also known as the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, is the separation document issued by the U.S. Department of Defense. This document contains information about a service member’s military separation, retirement, or discharge.
You may need to show a copy of your DD214 to help a mortgage lender establish eligibility for the VA home loan program. A VA lender can often receive your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) instantly through the VA’s direct website, even without your DD214, but you’ll need to speak to a VA loan officer to verify.
If you’re refinancing with the VA IRRRL Streamline program, you shouldn’t need to provide a DD214. All other VA loans, including the cash-out refinance loan, could require the form.
Do I need a DD214 for a VA loan if I’m still in the military?
Since active-duty service members are not yet separated from service, they will not have a DD214. In lieu of this form, they need to supply a statement of service signed by the adjutant (senior officer’s assistant), personnel office, or commander of the unit.
To find out exactly which documents you will need, including more information on the DD214, call (866) 313-3143 to speak with a mortgage professional.
4 ways to request your DD214
If your lender needs a DD214 to show proof of service — and if you can’t find your copy of the form — your loan officer may be able to help get another one. Or, you could request the form yourself from the Department of Defense.
1. Digital Express
If you need your DD214 quickly, you should request the services of a DD214 express service. There are numerous services found online (like this one), and there is usually a fee associated. But if you need your DD Form 214 in a hurry, expedited service is a great option.
2. Request your DD214 online
If you don’t need your DD214 right away, you can request it online directly from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). This option allows you to complete the necessary information online through eVetRecs, NPRC’s online request system.
3. Mail in your request
Mail a written request for your DD214 to:
National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, MO 63138
A mortgage specialist can help you obtain a copy of your DD214. To speak with a mortgage expert who can assist you, call (866) 313-3143 or fill out this form.
4. Request the DD214 by fax
You can also request DD214 duplicate copies directly from the National Personnel Records Center by faxing a completed and signed SF-180 form to fax number 314-801-9195.
How do VA home loans work?
VA home loans are a benefit that military veterans and active duty personnel earn through their service. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs oversees the VA home loan program.
Most veterans and active-duty military service members — along with some surviving spouses of veterans — can use this benefit. Many National Guard members and Reservists can also earn VA loan eligibility.
It’s an incredible benefit that offers a unique combination of advantages:
- No down payment
- No monthly mortgage insurance payments
- Lower rates than most loan programs
- More flexible credit requirements
Lender-required documentation for the VA home loan program
Before accepting a loan application, lenders have to make sure borrowers qualify for the VA home loan program. That’s why paperwork, such as the DD Form 214, is important. The DD214 confirms that you previously served in a branch of the military.
But the most important form that borrowers will need to qualify for the VA loan program is the Certificate of Eligibility (COE). This form proves not only that you’ve served in the military, but that you’ve met the service requirements for a VA loan. Your lender can request this for you, or you can get the form yourself through the VA’s eBenefits portal.
A Certificate of Eligibility also shows your level of entitlement, which determines the total loan amount you’re eligible to borrow. If you’ve never bought a home with a VA loan before, you’ll have full entitlement. This means that while the private loan lender issuing the loan may limit your loan size based on your income, credit score, and monthly debts, the VA won’t restrict the amount you can borrow.
What are the service requirements for using a VA loan?
Not every veteran will qualify for a VA loan, but most do. The minimum service requirements vary based on when and how you served. Generally, the following borrowers will qualify:
- Active-duty service members who have served, continuously, for at least 90 days
- Honorably discharged veterans who served 90 days on active duty during wartime
- Honorably discharged veterans who served at least 181 days on active duty during peacetime
- National Guard members or Reservists who served six years or longer
- Surviving spouses of service members who died in the line of duty or died because of a service-connected disability
VA loan approval requires more than military records
You’ve earned VA loan eligibility because of your honorable service in the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, or Navy. You have the documents, including DD 214, to prove it. This means you can apply for a VA loan.
But you’ll still need to prove yourself as a borrower before the VA will back your real estate purchase. The VA’s role is to insure your new home loan. The loan approval itself comes from the lender.
Private VA lenders get to decide whether to underwrite your loan and what interest rate to charge. VA mortgage insurance sweetens the deal for the lender, but the borrower still has to qualify.
While the VA sets minimum requirements for the program, different lenders have different qualifying rules. Most look for credit scores of 620 or higher. You’ll also need to show your income and debts so the lender can see how much house you can afford.
DD Form 214 FAQs
Can I get a VA loan without a DD214?
Yes. If you’re still serving, you won’t have a DD214 yet. Instead, your commanding officer or adjutant can provide proof of your service. If you already have a Certificate of Eligibility from the VA, your lender should not need to see your DD214.
How long does it take to get a DD214?
If you were recently discharged, you may still have quick access to your military records through your eBenefits portal. The VA recommends going through milConnect to access your records. Expect to wait a few weeks for orders to process. Private companies such as DD214 Direct can expedite the process for a fee.
What’s the fastest way to get a DD214?
Companies that specialize in requesting military records can get fast results, but you’d pay a fee for the service. Setting up a login and password for the military’s milConnect portal is the fastest way to access records on your own and without a fee.
What proof is needed for a VA loan?
A Certificate of Eligibility from the VA shows lenders you’re eligible for VA loan benefits. To get your COE, though, the VA will need to see your DD214. After proving you’re eligible for the VA loan program, you’ll need to prove you’re eligible for the loan itself. This includes providing financial documents such as W2 forms, tax forms, or pay stubs. You’ll also need to provide your Social Security number for a credit check. Financial documents are required for any type of home mortgage, not just VA loans.
What do I do if I don’t get my DD214?
Even if you can’t find your DD214, or if you don’t remember getting one to start with, the National Archives should have a record of your military service. You can get a replacement copy delivered by email or through the postal service. The VA explains how to access records here. Or you can hire a private company, such as DD214 Direct, to do the legwork for you.
Which copy of DD214 does the VA need?
The VA should accept a Member 4 or Service 2 copy of your DD214. If you have your original Member 4 copy, send a copy of the form and keep the original. If you have to request a new DD214, you’ll have a Service 2 copy, which the VA should accept.
Can I get my DD214 for free?
In most cases, military service members can request copies of service records without charge. If a request does incur a fee, the government should let you know in advance. If you choose to use a private company to expedite your request for records, expect to pay a fee to the company.
What if I lose my DD214?
If you lose your DD214, don’t worry. You can request additional copies through milConnect, your eBenefits portal, or by mail. Many VA lenders will gather your military records on your behalf.
Secured your documents? The next step is VA loan pre-approval
Making sure you have the right military records is the first step to checking your VA loan eligibility. Your next step? Getting mortgage pre-approval from VA-authorized lenders.
Pre-approval tackles several things at once:
- It shows how much you could get approved to borrow. This, in turn, shows your price range before you start looking at homes.
- It shows homeowners that you’re a serious home buyer — one who has the backing of a VA lender.
- It’s a rehearsal for your actual loan application. You’ll have your documents together before submitting the actual loan application.
- It’s a way to compare loan offers. Even when you’re getting the same VA loan, different lenders charge different interest rates. Sometimes, fees can vary.
There are many valuable benefits of a VA loan and a pre-approval is your first step toward securing one.