Need an ESA letter right away? Not so fast if you’re a resident of California. 

If you’re trying to qualify for an emotional support animal in California, there is a legal development to be aware of: Starting January 1st, 2022, you may have to wait at least 30 days before getting an ESA letter from your therapist or doctor. 

The 30 day period is required due to a new law in California. We’ll answer 3 frequently asked questions about this change in this post.

Why do I have to wait 30 days for an ESA letter?

The only way to qualify for an emotional support animal in California is by getting an ESA letter from a licensed healthcare professional. Until recently, there was no minimum amount of time you had to have known the therapist or doctor. 

Under the new law, healthcare professionals must have established a client-provider relationship for at least 30 days before they can issue an ESA letter.

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This new law was passed, presumably, to ensure that healthcare professionals have properly completed a mental health evaluation before writing an ESA letter. The 30 day period applies whether you get an ESA letter in person or through an online therapist

How to ask a doctor for an Emotional Support Animal Letter - ESA Doctor
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What if I have been seeing my therapist or doctor for longer than 30 days?

If you have an existing relationship with your therapist, doctor, or social worker longer than 30 days, you may be exempt from the new requirement. As long as your current licensed healthcare professional has completed an evaluation of your mental health, they can write an ESA letter for you.

Whoever signs your ESA letter must hold a valid, active license to practice in California. Your ESA letter should include the effective date, license number, jurisdiction, and type of professional license held by your provider. 

New ESA Law in California - Infographic

What if I get an ESA letter without complying with the 30 day period?

If you get your ESA letter from a healthcare professional or online service that does comply with the 30 day period after January 1st, 2022, it should set off an alarm bell. Your therapist or doctor is either unaware of the new requirements or blatantly violating the new rules. 

If you have a non-compliant ESA letter, your landlord may be able to reject your ESA request. There is nothing worse than the feeling of not having a home for your emotional support animal because of faulty paperwork. 

If you encounter a service that offers you a quick ESA letter in California, you should run the other way. Instead, trust ESA Doctors to get a legitimate ESA letter from an online healthcare professional. The licensed professionals that work with ESA Doctors are mindful of ESA rules and write ESA letters that actually work. 

Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal in California by Applying for Your Emotional Support Animal Letter Online (linked)

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What about PSD letters?

If you are looking to obtain a PSD letter because you own or plan to own a psychiatric service dog, the 30 day period does not apply. Psychiatric service dogs assist people with mental health disabilities by performing a task or job

PSDs are not the same as emotional support animals. They have greater public access rights (for example, they are allowed to board planes and go into stores). PSD owners obtain PSD letters to have backup documentation regarding their eligible disability. 

Like an ESA letter, a PSD letter comes from a licensed mental health professional. Although there is no 30 day period for PSD letters, you still need to work with a licensed professional that has evaluated your mental wellbeing. 

If you are interested in a Psychiatric Service Dog Letter, we can connect you with a licensed healthcare provider.

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