Emotional Support Animal Registration
How do I register an emotional support animal?
As the owner of an emotional support animal, you can register your emotional support anima in a database and obtain an identification card. Registration of your emotional support animal provides several benefits, including a searchable unique identification number for your Emotional Support Animal (ESA) and a public recording of your animal’s status.
All Emotional Support Animals with an Emotional Support Animal ID Card will be registered into the SDC database. Learn more about Emotional Support Animal registration below.
How to register your emotional support animal
- Explore your need for an ESA
Discuss your mental health with a licensed healthcare professional and ask whether an emotional support animal can help you. You can do this through an in-person visit or online.
- Request for an ESA Letter
If your therapist or doctor believes an ESA can help your condition, ask for an ESA letter which will qualify your pet as an emotional support animal.
- Adopt an ESA
If you do not already have a pet that will serve as your ESA, adopt an animal. ESAs can be dogs, cats, birds, fish, turtles, gerbils, rodents and other small household animals.
- Register your ESA
Register your emotional support animal in a database such the one maintained by Service Dog Certifications. You will be required to submit your ESA’s name and you can also submit a photo of your animal.
- Obtain an ID card or ESA vest
After registering your emotional support animal, you can get an ID card that has your ESA’s registration information and photograph. You may also choose to order them a vest for your own security and convenience.
Many ESA owners register their emotional support animals in order to get a registration number and ID card for their ESA. ESA owners always have the option of registering their ESAs, but registration and ID cards are not substitutes for obtaining an ESA letter. An ESA letter is essential if you want to officially qualify for an emotional support animal. Registering an ESA provides additional peace of mind and convenience. Only ESA owners with valid ESA letters should register their emotional support animals in a database and obtain an ID Card (see below for more info about ESA letters).
Registering an emotional support animal is popular with ESA owners because it gives them an easy way to show third-parties that their animal is not just a pet. Anyone you share your ESA’s registration number with can look up your animal in an online database for assistance animals.
Having an ID card for your emotional support animal can be a helpful way to prevent misunderstandings and confusion. They are popular with ESA owners who prefer to visually signal that they have an assistance animal and avoid verbal confrontations. For example, if your building bans pets, an ID card can be displayed for doormen or other tenants to see so they can immediately understand that your animal has been granted special accommodation in your building as an ESA.
To qualify for an emotional support animal, you need a recommendation letter (known as an “ESA letter”) from a healthcare professional that is licensed for your state. The healthcare professional must determine that you have a mental health condition that would be helped by the presence of an emotional support animal. You can obtain an ESA letter through an in-person office visit or through an online provider.
If you prefer the convenience of getting an ESA letter online, we recommend ESADoctors. They will pair you with a licensed professional that specializes in ESA recommendations. If you qualify, you will receive a signed ESA letter on the healthcare professional’s letterhead with their licensing information included.
An ESA provides support and comfort to people that suffer from mental and emotional health issues. ESAs can be a wide variety of domesticated animals such as dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, fish, turtles, rodents and lizards.
Emotional support animals play a vital role in the mental health of their owners. For example, ESAs are frequently used by people who suffer from chronic depression, severe anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, learning disorders and panic disorders. An ESA can help a person maintain emotional stability and also provide a calming influence during times of crisis or when their condition is triggered.
Emotional support animals differ from service animals in a few ways. One primary difference is that an ESA does not require any specialized training. An emotional support animal’s job is not to perform trained tasks, but rather to be a comforting and reliable presence in their owner’s life, especially during times of distress. ESAs can also be a variety of animals, whereas service animals can only be dogs.
If you own an emotional support animal, you are protected from housing discrimination by federal law. The Fair Housing Act and guidelines from the U.S. Department of Housing requires landlords to reasonably accommodate ESA owners. That means that your housing provider has to allow your ESA even if the building strictly bans all pets. ESA laws are clear, landlords can also never charge any pet fee, deposit or application fee for accepting your ESA.
ESAs are considered a type of assistance animal under federal guidelines and are thus exempt from building rules that limit pets. For instance, ESAs are not subject to breed, size and weight limitations that may apply to tenant’s pets.
To register your Emotional Support Animal, fill out the information request on the right hand side of this page – Emotional Support Animal Registration.