Woman Hugging Her Golden Retriever Dog at Home

Many individuals with qualifying mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and sensory disorders benefit from the assistance of an emotional support animal.

However, it’s important to register your emotional support animal and receive a letter from a licensed mental healthcare provider.

This will allow you to take full advantage of your fair housing rights. Our article gives you details on emotional support animal registration and if it’s possible to complete this process for free.

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Do I Need to Register My Emotional Support Animal?

Emotional support animals are companion animals that provide benefits for their owners with their presence, comfort, and the sense of routine that their presence provides.

While you can benefit from an emotional support animal without registering them, it’s important to officially receive an ESA letter for your animal if you want to ensure your ESA stays by your side in any housing unit or apartment you live in.

Keep in mind that an emotional support animal is not like a service animal, and they won’t have wide-reaching public access rights.

The only ESA rights that you will have with your emotional support animal letter are the federally protected housing rights under the Fair Housing Act.

Is ESA Registration Free?

You may be able to register your emotional support animal in a database for free, but this isn’t required and will not grant you ESA housing rights.

The only thing that allows you to obtain your fair housing rights is an emotional support animal letter drafted by a mental healthcare professional licensed in your state.

Your ESA letter may or may not be free depending on a few different factors, such as your insurance, the therapist or mental healthcare provider you work with, and varying policies or session fees. In general, you can expect to pay a very low cost or a few hundred dollars for a meeting with a provider to receive your ESA letter.

How Do I Officially Register My Emotional Support Animal?

Officially registering your emotional support animal doesn’t need to be a long or complicated process.

Below, we give you a general overview of steps that you can expect when you set out to receive an ESA letter for your companion animal.

  • Your first step is to make an appointment with a mental healthcare provider licensed in your state. You can do this in person or virtually.
  • Your provider will discuss your mental health condition or disability with you and evaluate your need for an emotional support animal. A care plan may be organized depending on your needs.
  • After your provider has determined that you are eligible for an emotional support animal, they will provide you with an ESA letter that states your need.
  • Once you receive your official ESA letter, you can show it to landlords or rental agencies to request fair housing accommodations for you and your emotional support animal.

Keep in mind that many different conditions or situations may qualify you for an emotional support animal. Don’t hesitate to contact a provider licensed in your state if you think that an ESA can benefit you and your specific situation.

Accessing Your Emotional Support Animal Rights

While free emotional support or service animal registration might not be possible in all circumstances, it’s important to explore your options for an emotional support animal if you want to take advantage of your ESA rights.

We recommend making an appointment with a mental healthcare provider licensed in your state as soon as possible to learn more about receiving your emotional support animal letter and accessing your ESA rights.