How to Register an Emotional Support Animal

In today’s high-stress world, many people find comfort in pets. If you have a condition that’s made better by traveling or participating in daily activities with your pet, you’ll want to register your emotional support animal (ESA).

Registration isn’t required, but it makes it easier when you’re out and about with our pet. Keep reading to learn how to register an emotional support animal.

Is Your Animal an ESA or a Service Animal?

There is a big difference between the two. Recognizing the difference helps you register your ESA correctly and protects your legal rights.

An ESA can be any animal that provides calming and therapeutic benefits to a person who experiences emotional distress. These animals might be trained, but that’s not a requirement. What is required is a prescription letter from a mental health professional such as a licensed counselor or a doctor that states the animal provides you with essential support.

A service animal is in most cases a canine trained to help their handler perform tasks they’re physically or emotionally unable to do. Yes, they provide emotional support, but they’re trained to do specific tasks to help a person manage their daily life.

Be Prepared to Send in a Copy of the Prescription Letter

Most ESA registrations take place online. You’ll receive a kit that includes a leash, a collar, a vest, or some other wearable item that identifies the pet as an ESA. To begin the registration process, you’ll need your prescription letter. If you don’t have one, make an appointment with your primary care physician or speak with a psychiatric professional to get this letter.

It’s important to note that you will need to schedule a psychological evaluation to get this letter. Be prepared to make that appointment and explain why your cat, dog, snake, or other animal is essential to your daily emotional health.

If the therapist or doctor agrees that your pet is an important part of your emotional wellbeing, they need to submit their assessment on their letterhead. Their license number must be included and the letter must be signed and dates. Prescription letters are valid for one year from date of issuance.

Snap a Photo of Your ESA

When you register your ESA, you’ll also need a current photo. This photo identifies the ESA in a national database.

Now that you know how to register an emotional support animal, find a reputable service to help you complete the process.


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