The Quick Answer: No, you don’t have to register an emotional support animal (ESA). The only way to legally qualify for an ESA is by getting an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional.

Why you don’t need registration: You can’t qualify for an ESA by entering it into a registry or obtaining registration documents. The U.S. Department of Housing had this to say about registrations sold online:

Some websites sell certificates, registrations, and licensing documents for assistance animals…In HUD’s experience, such documentation from the internet is not, by itself, sufficient to reliably establish that an individual has a non-observable disability or disability-related need for an assistance animal.


What you should do instead: Get in touch with a licensed therapist, doctor, registered nurse, counselor, or social worker for an ESA letter. Don’t know where to turn? ESA Doctors can link you with a licensed ESA professional in your state. You can get a valid ESA letter from an online professional that actually works.  

Get your ESA Letter

Is any type of registration required? The only registration you might need for your ESA is if your city, state, or county requires registration for animals. This is not an ESA-specific registration; it is a registration required for all pets and animals a person may own. For example, you may need to register in your city to obtain a dog license for your emotional support dog.

Can I still register my emotional support animal? There are services online that offer to add your emotional support animal to a registry. If you are an ESA owner, it’s unnecessary. If you’re not an ESA owner, you shouldn’t register an animal as an ESA unless you have a proper ESA letter.

Why do some ESA owners still register their animals? They may feel better knowing there’s a public record of their animal’s status. They may also want to buy registry-linked assistance animal paraphernalia such as ID cards, vests, and tags to let people in their building know that their animal is a qualified ESA. You shouldn’t register an ESA, however, if you’re only doing so because you think it’s required – it’s not.

What if my landlord asks to see my ESA’s registration? Your landlord has the mistaken impression that ESAs are required to have a special registration. Landlords are entitled to documentation to verify an ESA, but not in the form of registration. They are permitted to see your ESA letter to confirm you have an actual emotional support animal.

The bottom line: If you’re trying to turn your pet into an emotional support animal, put aside registrations to start. You should first connect with a licensed healthcare professional capable of writing an ESA letter for you.

Do I have to register my Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?

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