Register Emotional Support Animal
The only item you need, in most cases, to travel on an airplane or obtain housing with an emotional support animal (ESA) is a valid ESA letter. Emotional support animal registration is one way to obtain this letter that can be easier and more effective than seeking and using a letter without ESA registration. As such, while you may not be required to register your emotional support animal in order to have an emotional support animal, ESA registration does offer so many benefits that not doing so would seem counterintuitive and counterproductive.
Benefits to Register Emotional Support Animal
So, registering your ESA might not be a required part of having an ESA, but it sure makes it easier. Here are some of the key reasons why.
An ESA letter does not name or identify your animal specifically. It only gives you, the person named in the letter, authorization to have a qualified emotional support animal. Therefore, one key benefit of ESA registration is that it identifies your particular animal as your ESA. This protects you and, most of all, your animal far more than a mere ESA letter alone.
As laid out in the Fair Housing Act, a valid ESA letter allows you to live with your ESA even in housing that normally does not permit animals. The Fair Housing Act further prevents landlords from charging you extra fees and requiring extra deposits to allow your emotional support animal to take residence with you. As laid out in the Air Carrier Access Act, a legitimate ESA letter allows you to fly on commercial passenger airlines with your ESA accompanying you in the passenger cabin of the airplane. The Air Carrier Access Act further prevents airlines from charging you extra fees for traveling with your emotional support animal.
ESA registration makes it easier for you to identify yourself to potential landlords and airline staff as a qualified ESA owner and your animal as your qualified ESA. One way ESA registration does this is by helping you push through the resistance many landlords and airlines have to allowing emotional support animals by demonstrating that you know your rights. You are even given a card with registration that outlines your exact rights as legally-qualified ESA owner.
Additionally, registration also confers on you a number of items that can help make travel and/or housing situations far easier for you and your ESA than attempting those activities without them. These include:
- A card identifying you as a legitimate ESA owner
- A safety harness and vest with ID tag and holder for your animal to wear to identify him or her as your ESA and help you to keep him or her under your control at all times.
- A listing in the Certifymypet digital database of legitimate ESA owners and their ESAs
- Easily-accessible electronic copy of your current, valid ESA letter with doctor’s contact information
- A convenient guidebook to traveling and obtaining and maintaining housing with an ESA
When you travel without a registered ESA, you may be subject to greater hassles and hold-ups, including more intensive searches of you and your animal and possible delays while your claims of your ESA’s legitimacy are verified. Similarly, when you seek housing for you and your unregistered ESA, you could face hassles and delays proving your ESA’s legitimacy before you get approved to take residence. With proper emotional support animal registration, airline workers and housing managers are far less likely to give you trouble bringing your ESA along with you.
Not only are your official ESA registration credentials more difficult to dispute or dismiss, but emotional support animal registration comes with follow-up ESA letter verification service for landlords and airlines. Through this system, each ESA letter issued through Certifymypet’s system has a unique number and can be verified 24/7. This service protects you from being denied housing or travel with your ESA without valid legal cause. Through this service, airlines and housing authorities can contact Certifymypet to request verification of your credentials and answer other relevant questions as mandated by the airline’s own ESA policy and permitted by law.
Qualifications to Register Emotional Support Animal
To register an emotional support animal, both you and the animal must meet certain qualifications.
First, in order to obtain the valid ESA letter you need as a prerequisite for registering your emotional support animal, you must have a qualified medical doctor (like a psychologist) or licensed mental health care worker (like a therapist) must determine and indicate in writing that you have a mental or emotional disability that impairs your ability to perform certain vital everyday tasks, and particularly as they relate to travel and housing, on your own. Moreover, this professional must attest that an emotional support animal may help alleviate some of those concerns and thereby make it easier for you to perform those tasks and conduct your daily life. The specific language required in the letter regarding this is that the animal would be considered a “reasonable accommodation” for your disability, not unlike an assistive device. The professional is neither required nor permitted to disclose the exact diagnosis or nature of your qualifying disability.
Secondly, your animal must be either a dog, cat or another qualifying species to be permitted to register as an ESA. These other qualifying species include but are not limited to:
- Horses and miniature horses
- Hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs
Animals not permitted for use as ESAs include spiders, rodents, ferrets, snakes, other types of reptiles and any exotic or wild species deemed to pose a risk of possible attack or potential disease to passengers, crew and other animals. Certain airlines, like Delta Airlines, have banned dogs of the pit bull family from riding in the passenger cabins of their aircraft, even as emotional support animals.
About Your ESA Letter
Registering your animal as an ESA is an option only available to you after you first acquire the proper ESA letter. It is this letter you will use to have your animal permitted to live or travel with you, and it is this letter you will use to register your animal as your ESA. Therefore, the following sections discuss this part of the process, particularly as it affects ESA registration.
Legitimate Emotional Support Animal Registration Requires a Legitimate ESA Letter
Completing this first step to getting your animal registered as an Emotional Support Animal may seem simple enough considering the overabundance of websites selling ESA letters over the web. But purveyors of fake ESA letters exist, so you must be sure, when you obtain your ESA letter, that you are actually receiving a legitimate Emotional Support Animal letter.
Still other sites may sell actual, legitimate ESA letters, but they issue them without you ever speaking with a doctor face to face. While this may get a legitimate ESA letter into your possession quicker, and possibly cheaper, than other means, the doctor signing that letter, in truth, knows nothing about you or your animal and would be of absolutely no use to you if contacted by the airline or airport on your behalf to follow up and discuss your qualifications or any questions or concerns that may arise. For that reason, only an ESA letter from a legitimate emotional support animal registration service can give you total peace of mind that your ESA letter meets all the applicable qualifications.
At Certifymypet, you will have a live video-conference with a real licensed physician in your state before your ESA letter is issued, so you know that this is real. This way, you can also establish rapport with the doctor should you or anyone else on your behalf need to contact him or her regarding your ESA or qualifications again.
Only certain types of health care professionals are qualified to write ESA letters. They must be LMHPs, such as a:
- Clinical Psychologist
- Licensed Therapist
- Licensed Mental Health or Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
- Licensed Professional Counselor or Mental Health Counselor
That said, Certifymypet takes it a step further. If you connect with a doctor through Certifymypet’s system, then it won’t just be any LMHP meeting with you and writing your ESA letter but an actual physician licensed in your state. While, indeed, LMHP’s of every sort are legally authorized to write and sign ESA letters, only licensed physicians can use prescriptive language: in other words, provide you with a prescription-type ESA letter. These letters are more easily recognized and quickly accepted by landlords and airline personnel, causing you even less chance of hassles or delays.
Importance of Legitimate ESA Letters
Not only does misrepresenting your qualifications to have an emotional support animal violate airline and FAA regulations. In certain states, it is even against the law to do so. Currently, it is illegal in the following 24 states to falsely claim your animal is an emotional support animal:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- Washington State
To meet all applicable laws and regulations, your ESA letter must be signed by a licensed doctor or health care worker and your disability, while not explicitly named in the letter, must be a diagnosed mental or emotional illness, disorder or condition as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA.)
Qualifying disabilities for an ESA letter may be what are considered “invisible disabilities” for being unable to be detected or identified by a third-party observer, and may include (though are not limited to):
- General Anxiety Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorders
- Panic Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Impulse-Control Disorder
- Attention Deficit DIsorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Postpartum Depression
- Fears and Phobias
The Importance of Legitimate ESA Registration
As many purveyors of fake ESA letters exist, so too do many false ESA registries. Since ESA registration is not mandatory but only optional (albeit a wise and advisable option), one of the first and easiest ways to identify a fake ESA registrar is if it claims you must register your emotional support animal in order to comply with law and fly with your ESA or move into rental housing with your ESA.
If an ESA registrar offers you an ESA letter without requiring a screening first by a medical doctor (or at least an LMHP), be wary of that registrar and any letter it issues you. SImilarly, if you are provided with a screening, but the LMHP is not licensed to practice in your state, be wary of that ESA letter. Without a proper preliminary screening by a qualified LMHP who is licensed to practice in your state, your ESA letter could be more easily questioned and disqualified and harder to have verified. Certifymypet only issues ESA letters after a video-conference with a licensed physician in our network, and only if the physician deems the applicant qualified.
If an ESA registrar has a registry it wants you to sign up for, be wary of that service, especially if it claims the registry is authoritative (as in the U.S. Registry or National Registry). There is no authoritative registry of qualified ESA owners or ESAs. Certifymypet provides you with all you need to have your credentials recognized, accepted and, if need be, verified. It does not, however, require or even request you to sign up for a registry.
If an ESA registrar cannot help you confirm for a landlord or airline on the spot that you qualify for housing or air travel with your ESA, then it is not much help to you in those times when you would need it most. If you are going to pay for an ESA letter and ESA registration, you deserve to have the information provided in that letter verified and backed up whenever needed, as you do with Certifymypet.
If an ESA registrar cannot provide you with everything you need to meet each airline’s specific and distinct ESA policies, then it is not doing its job.
While the law permitting you to travel with your ESA is federal law, many airlines have their own specific policies regarding certain types of travel with ESAs (such as international or long flights) or travel with certain types of ESAs (like pit bull or pug type dogs). Moreover, certain airlines might require you to provide sufficient notice of your intent to travel with an ESA in advance of your travel or additional paperwork, such as current health and vaccination records and/or a signed statement from you affirming your ESA meets the basic standards of obedience that make him or her safe for other passengers, airline staff, airline property and you and the animal yourselves. Also, if your ESA cannot sit or lie down in the designated spot at your feet in the passenger cabin or (in permitted cases) on your lap, you may need to bring an airline-approved pet carrier and place your ESA inside it and stowed beneath the seat in front of you. Some airlines might require this procedure for take-off, landing and turbulence regardless of your ESA’s size.
Similarly, there are exceptions to the provisions allowing ESAs into rental housing laid out in the Fair Housing Act. For starters, you and your ESA must still comply with all relevant standards defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. You may be legally denied permission to occupy a housing unit with your ESA if the building has a four or fewer units, one of which is occupied by the landlord, if the building is a single-family house rented or sold without use of a real estate broker or if the facility is designated as a private club.
These policies often come and go or change over the months and years, and to be fully of service to you, an ESA registrar must keep up with these policy changes. Likewise, if any new laws or provisions affect the Fair Housing Act, your ESA registrar should be up to speed with all of that as well. Certifymypet, stays on top of all the latest changes to airline policies and ESA-related laws, whether they apply to travel or housing.
For any questions you may have about registering your ESA or to begin the process of ESA registration, contact Certifymypet.
Toll free number: 833 ESA CERT or 833 372 2378