What Are the Qualifications for an Emotional Support Animal?

Getting your pet registered as an emotional support animal (ESA) is an easy process. All you really need is an ESA letter from a certified mental health professional. There are some additional steps, but they’re not mandatory.

In this article, we are going to explain the qualifications for an emotional support animal and what you need to do to register your pet as an ESA legally.

Qualifications for an Emotional Support Animal

To qualify for an emotional support animal, you and your pet have to meet specific criteria. You have to consult with a certified mental health practitioner, such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist.

Your doctor will assess your mental health and discuss other things, such as your mental health history, symptoms, and whether your condition disrupts your daily routine.

Once you have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, the practitioner will ask questions to understand if your pet’s presence has a positive influence on your mental state. If they feel that the pet should be included in your overall treatment plan, then they will issue you an ESA letter.

The letter serves as a legal document that proves the legitimacy of your need for an ESA. It will contain details about the mental health practitioner who issued it, your mental health condition, and your pet.

You can show your ESA letter to landlords and hotels when requesting accommodation in places that have a no-pet policy, allowing your pet to live with you.

Additional Things You Can Do

Getting an ESA letter is the only mandatory step in the process of legally recognizing your pet as an emotional support animal. However, there are some other optional steps you can take, such as getting your pet registered as an emotional support animal and obtaining an ID card.

There is no official registry of ESAs in the U.S., but there are various sites you can register your pet with. Becoming registered will help you get an ID card that you can show to anyone to prove your pet’s status as an ESA.

You’ll also get a certificate that confirms your pet’s role as an ESA in your life. Some companies will also have on-staff attorneys to make sure your legal rights are protected as an ESA owner.

Finally, if you still haven’t gotten an ESA letter, the company you have registered with will be able to help you get a consultation with a certified mental health professional.


To register your pet as an ESA, all you have to do is provide information about yourself and your pet. You may also be asked to share a picture of your pet.

Why Do You Need an ESA Letter?

An ESA letter guarantees your pet the rights granted by the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). These two laws ensure that you can live with your emotional support animal in housing where pets are generally not allowed.

The Air Carrier Access Act allows your pet to fly with you in the cabin. Depending on which airline you fly with and the size of your pet, you may be charged an extra fee.

Hotels and landlords can’t demand extra payment from you to accommodate your pet, but if it causes any damage, then you will be responsible for covering the costs of repairs.

Service animals, pets that have been trained to perform tasks that help people with disabilities, have more rights than ESAs. Unlike ESAs, though, they have to undergo training in order to become eligible to be classified as service animals.

Does Your Pet Meet the Qualifications to Be an ESA?

To determine if your pet meets the qualifications to be an ESA, we recommend consulting with a certified mental health professional who can evaluate your mental state and your pet’s role in helping you cope with it.

If the practitioner determines that your pet helps you feel better and is part of your treatment plan, then they’ll write an ESA letter that contains information about who they are, your mental condition, and how your pet has a positive impact on your mental state.

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