An emotional support dog or cat letter for travel must be presented to the airline when a person with a mental health disability would like to fly with an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) within the cabin of the aircraft. This is a regulated requirement from the airlines, which must be typically provided to them at least two days before you have to travel. We recommend that you reach out to each individual airlines as their policies and procedures may vary. Check out this article for additional details on airline requirements for emotional support animals.
It is required that the ESA letter must come from a qualified licensed mental health professional who has evaluated the mental, emotional or psychiatric disability of the person in need. The letter must indicate the therapist’s qualifications, ie. a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or therapist, and it must also be written on the therapist’s letterhead. Some airlines require that the ESA travel letter must be issued within the last twelve months. This letter may be referred to as an “emotional support animal prescription” or a “comfort animal prescription”, but these are misnomers and the ESA travel letter is not a prescription, but rather a recommendation letter.
Contents of ESA Travel Letter
- That the passenger has been diagnosed with a mental health disability based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
- The emotional support travel letter should include that the emotional support animal was determined by the mental health professional as necessary for the passenger due to his or her mental health.
- That the mental health professional has the passenger under his or her care.
- That the mental health professional’s license, date of license issue, state and jurisdiction are all indicated and up-to-date.
Verification of ESA Travel Letter
Sometimes, airlines do further verification of your ESA travel letter by calling the professional or by requiring an extra document (that they provide) to be filled out and signed by the therapist. “The purpose of this verification is to prevent abuse by passengers that do not have a medical need for an emotional support animal and to ensure that passengers who have a legitimate need for emotional support animals are permitted to travel with their service animals on the aircraft,” per an excerpt from the Air Carriers Access Act. The verification process of an ESA travel letter is usually very simple and painless. Please contact us if you have any issues with your airline.
If you are currently not seeing a mental health expert and you don’t have any personal contact from such an individual, you could seek recommendations from your family doctor or from your friends. You can also try contacting local universities for any leads from their psychiatric program, or scour directory and newspaper listings for doctors in your area. If you would like a referral for a therapist in your area, you may also contact us and we will try to connect you to a local licensed mental health professional. Ideally, it would be beneficial to have ongoing mental health care from a professional as well.
How to get an emotional support animal letter? Click here to see if you qualify for an ESA Travel letter:
Disclaimer: Our content is intended to be used and must be used for informational purposes only. Policies can change and companies can alter their rules and regulations. It is very important to do your own analysis and research before booking any flights.