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VA Loan Basics: Eligibility Requirements

For most, homeownership starts with a dream.

For scores of veterans and active duty military personnel – the men and women who put America first – it starts and ends with a VA loan.

These flexible, government-backed loans have helped more than 18 million service members become homeowners since World War II. VA loans feature no down payment and no private mortgage insurance and allow qualified borrowers to purchase a home without spending money up front.

At the outset, veterans, active duty service members and others need to determine whether they’re eligible to participate in the VA Loan Guaranty program. Being eligible for a VA loan doesn’t guarantee you’ll secure financing, but the program continues to help hundreds of thousands of deserving borrowers each year.

Eligibility Requirements

Those eligible for VA mortgage financing fall into two categories: wartime and peacetime service.

Wartime Eligibility Requirements

  • World War II (September 16, 1940 to July 25, 1947)
  • Korean Conflict (June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955)
  • Vietnam Era (August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975)
  • Persian Gulf War (August 2, 1990 to present)

Peacetime Eligibility Requirements

  • July 26, 1947 to June 26, 1950
  • February 1, 1955 to August 4, 1964
  • May 8, 1975 to September 7, 1980 (if enlisted) or to October 16, 1981 (officer)
  • September 7, 1980 (enlisted) or October 16, 1981 (officer) and August 1, 1990

Active Duty Service Personnel

After having served on continuous active duty for at least 90 days. Upon discharge or release from active duty, eligibility must be reestablished.

Members of the Selected Reserve

Individuals who are not otherwise eligible and who have completed at least six years in the Reserves or National Guard.


  • Unmarried surviving spouses of eligible persons who died as the result of service or service-connected injuries
  • Surviving spouse who remarried on or after attaining age 57, and on or after December 16, 2003, may be eligible
  • Spouse of any active duty member of the Armed Forces listed as missing in action, or is a prisoner of war and has been so listed for a total of more than 90 days

Getting Your COE

Veterans are required to have been discharged or released under other than dishonorable conditions. Minimum service time requirements vary. Do not assume you are not qualified for some reason. Exceptions are made and only by checking your eligibility will you know for sure.

The VA makes a final determination in a formal document called a Certificate of Eligibility. You can obtain your Certificate of Eligibility on your own, but it can take weeks. If you have a VA-approved lender do it for you, it can take seconds.

And when your dream home is on the line, do you really want to give someone else the chance to get there first?

To learn more about eligibility, you can visit our extensive guide to VA loan eligibility.