A VA loan is a mortgage for members of the military, veterans and their spouses that allows the borrower to buy a home without a down payment, and often at a favorable interest rate. If you’re a military spouse, here’s how to know if you’re eligible for a VA loan.

Do you qualify for a VA loan?

If your spouse is a service member or veteran and eligible for a VA loan based on minimum service standards, you both can co-borrow the mortgage. This also applies if you’ve both served. At minimum, you’ll each need:

  • A credit score of at least 620 (the VA has no minimum credit score requirement, but lenders typically require a 620 minimum)
  • A debt-to-income (DTI) ratio of no more than 41 percent

In addition, unless you’re on active duty, both you and your spouse need to move into the property within 60 days of closing the mortgage. Here’s more on VA loan requirements.

VA loan surviving spouse requirements

If you’re the spouse of a deceased veteran, you could qualify for a VA loan under these circumstances:

  • The veteran died while in service (or from a disability related to service) and you didn’t remarry; or the veteran had been disabled and died, but their disability might not have been the cause of death
  • The veteran died while in service (or from a disability related to service) and you didn’t remarry before Dec. 16, 2003 or turning 57 years old
  • The veteran is missing in action or a prisoner of war

To apply, you’ll first need to obtain the veteran’s certificate of eligibility (COE) and DD Form 214 (record of service). You can get these online through the VA website or by contacting a regional VA office.

VA loan spouse requirements FAQ

  • If you’re a service member or veteran and qualify for a VA loan, you’re not required to co-borrow with or list your spouse on the mortgage. If your spouse isn’t a co-borrower, however, you won’t be able to apply their income to the loan, which limits the amount you might qualify for. For this reason, many military couples jointly apply for a VA loan.
  • If you’re co-borrowing a VA loan with your spouse, your and your spouse’s credit, debt and income determine what you might qualify for. If you aren’t co-borrowing with a spouse but live in a community property state, however, your spouse’s finances might still come into play.

    If your spouse’s credit needs work, it might make sense to leave them off the mortgage, but add them to the home’s title. This means that your spouse has an ownership stake but isn’t liable for making mortgage payments, which could help you qualify for better loan terms. Here’s more on co-borrowing a mortgage and property titles.
  • To qualify for a VA loan with a partner who is a service member or veteran, you’re required to be “married” as defined or recognized by your state. This includes common-law and same-sex marriages. However, if you’re unmarried but both have served, you could qualify for a VA loan based on both your entitlements. Here’s more on buying a home as an unmarried couple.
  • The general rule: Unless the service member or veteran is deceased, you’ll need their participation to qualify for another VA loan, including if you’d like to refinance in divorce proceedings. If you’re currently divorcing a spouse you co-borrowed the mortgage with, your next steps depend on how you decide to handle the marital property and the applicable laws in your state. If you’re already divorced from a service member or veteran, you can’t get a new VA loan based on their eligibility. Here’s more on divorcing with a mortgage.