Do you know the most important tip if you’re thinking about registering your Emotional Support Animal? Don’t do it! 

ESA Registration is not required by law and will not make your animal companion an official Emotional Support Animal. There are steps that you need to take to make your pet an official ESA, but ESA registration is NOT one of them. This is one of the most common misperceptions when it comes to qualifying for an ESA. 

In order to have a legally recognized emotional support animal, you need to obtain an ESA letter from a licensed healthcare professional. This article will explain why registrations don’t work and why ESA letters are the way to go. 


Qualify for a legitimate ESA letter Do NOT “Register” your ESA

Register emotional support animal - ESA Doctors
If you only register your pet as an emotional support animal you will be denied by landlords. Only an ESA letter qualifies a pet to be an ESA.

The following questions and anwers will help to clarify if and how you may get a legitimate ESA letter:

Do you qualify for an ESA letter?

To qualify for an ESA letter, you should work with a licensed mental health professional specializing in understanding the benefits of assistance animals. An ESA letter must contain specific language under U.S. disability rules, and you’ll want to make sure your LMHP understands how to write an effective ESA letter. 

In order to qualify for an ESA letter, you must have a mental or emotional health condition like depression, anxiety, PTSD, autism, or ADHD that substantially limits one or more major life activities. A licensed healthcare professional can determine whether you meet these criteria.

How to ask your therapist for an ESA letter

If you are currently in therapy, we recommend asking your therapist about writing an ESA letter for you. You can inform them about how an animal companion has been (or could be) helping your current state and discussing whether an ESA would benefit your long-term mental health. However, some healthcare professionals are unfamiliar with emotional support animals and unwilling to write ESA letters. If that’s the case for you, there is still hope. 

Many healthcare professionals specialize in emotional support animals and appreciate their importance. ESA Doctors is a technology company that helps connect clients with professionals who understand this field. ESA Doctors works with licensed professionals familiar with ESA requirements under the Fair Housing Act and guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Housing.  

Can you qualify for an ESA letter online?

Yes, you can qualify for an ESA letter online thanks to modern technology. The digital age has made mental health services and awareness more and more accessible. HUD guidelines specifically allow for licensed healthcare professionals who work remotely online to provide ESA letters

If you need a licensed healthcare professional to evaluate whether you qualify for an ESA letter, ESA Doctors is the premier online option. ESA Doctors is consistently awarded perfect 5-star reviews from verified clients and is also BBB accredited. You can trust that ESA Doctors will connect you to a real-life healthcare professional knowledgeable about ESA letters.

Three easy steps to get an ESA Letter with ESA Doctors

How to qualify for an ESA letter?

  • Step #1 – Complete the ESA Questionnaire online.
  • Step #2 – A licensed healthcare professional will reach out to you directly.
  • Step #3 – If you qualify, you will receive a digital copy of your ESA letter for immediate use.
  • Step #4 – Submit your ESA letter to your housing provider for approval.

Where can I use my ESA letter?


You are entitled to several benefits as an ESA owner under federal and state housing laws. Housing providers such as landlords, co-ops, HOAs, and others must reasonably accommodate your emotional support animal unless they have a valid exemption (like if your ESA has threatened the safety of other residents).

Even if your building prohibits all animals of any type, exceptions must be made for emotional support animals. ESAs are also exempt from breed, size, and weight restrictions that might apply to normal pets. You can also have more than one emotional support animal if your ESA letter covers it. 

In addition, you can never be charged a fee or deposit for an emotional support animal. Even if the building charges fees and deposits for pets, ESAs are exempt. Housing providers also cannot charge an application fee to process your ESA request. 

With an ESA letter, you can live with confidence that you and your emotional support animal can live free from discriminatory behavior by landlords and without additional financial burdens.


As a result of recent DOT regulations, U.S. airlines no longer accommodate emotional support animals in the cabin of flights. Other types of assistance animals and pets, however, may still be able to fly in the cabin if certain requirements are met. 

For information on animal policies at a few major U.S. airlines, please visit the links below. 

  1. American Airlines
  2. Delta Airlines
  3. JetBlue
  4. Southwest Airlines
  5. United Airlines
  6. Alaska Airlines (formerly Virgin)
  7. Spirit Airlines 

I found an ESA Registration site that says they will give me a letter, is that right?

ESA registration - ESA Doctors
ESA registration sites are not recognized by the law and do not confer legal benefits. Only an ESA letter will qualify your animal companion as a legitimate Emotional Support Animal.

No, we can’t emphasize this enough, ESA registration is not required!

If a company claims they can make your ESA official simply by registering it, we would advise proceeding with caution. Registration is not required by law and does not make your pet an ESA. In fact, HUD guidelines specifically warn people not to use sites that sell ESA registrations and certifications. 

In addition, please also be wary of seeking support from discounted referral companies. If it’s too good to be true, it’s often because it is.  With low-cost discount referral companies, you run the risk of being paired with an ineligible healthcare professional (or worse yet, no licensed healthcare professional at all). 

When it comes to protecting your ESA and best friend, go with a premier provider.

My landlord is requesting that I register my ESA, what should I do?

Most landlords understand their obligations under Fair Housing rules. However, some housing providers are not well-versed in ESA regulations and may ask to see your ESA’s registration. If your landlord requests that you register your ESA, there are steps you can take:

  1. Inform them that ESA registration is not required by law and is, in fact, discouraged by HUD.
  2. Share your ESA letter with them.
  3. Explain to your landlord that under HUD guidelines, your ESA letter is the only documentation required for ESA accommodation. 

When dealing with a housing provider about your ESA situation, it is important to remain calm, friendly and professional, but persistent. Understanding the rules that apply to emotional support animals will help you present your arguments and potentially educate your housing provider if they were simply unaware of how the ESA process works. It can take a bit of effort, but having your emotional support animal protected is well worth it. 

Start now to qualify for an ESA letter


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