Home » Emotional Support Animal Certification — Everything You Need to Know.

Emotional Support Animal Certification — Everything You Need to Know.

Updated on Feb 08, 2023 by Patricia Thompson

An ESA certificate is a document with a seal or stamp that states the pet is an emotional support animal. However, it is important to note that there is no formally recognized certification program for emotional support animals.
Addressing the issue The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) stated about the ESA certificates in its latest set of ESA rules.

“Some websites sell certificates, registrations, and licensing documents for assistance animals…In HUD’s experience, such documentation from the internet is not, by itself, sufficient to reliably establish that an individual has a non-observable disability or disability-related need for an assistance animal.”

An ESA Certificate is not a legal document but an accessory that can help in the identification of emotional support animal. It simply means that an ESA certificate cannot grant you access to benefits that are meant for emotional support animals.

ESA Certification Guide

Emotional Support Animal Overview

An emotional support animal (ESA) is an animal that gives therapeutic benefits to individuals suffering from mental health conditions. Any domesticated animal can be classified as an emotional support animal, however, dogs and cats are among the most popular choices for an ESA. ESAs are not trained like service dogs, as their role is to provide companionship and comfort to people suffering from mental health conditions. Emotional Support Animal (ESA) helps individuals to get out of the darkness of life with their unwavering companionship. Individuals suffering from Anxiety, Chronic stress, Depression, Bipolar disorder, Phobias, and Post-traumatic stress disorder qualify for an ESA under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) can be of any kind. Also, an ESA does not require any training as their purpose is to endow the handler with companionship, alleviate loneliness, and facilitate fighting depression, anxiety, and certain irrational fears.

How Does ESA Certification Differ From Other Types of Animal Certifications?

Unlike service dog certifications that are issued to a service dog validating their ability to perform tasks for the individual suffering from disabilities, ESA certification is just a document that signifies your pet as an emotional support animal who is there for the mental well-being of the individual. Moreover, service animals require special training to deliver essential services to a person with a disability while emotional support animals do not need such training.

Is ESA Certification Legal?

ESA certification plays a role in verifying your pet as an ESA. However, it does not provide any legal protection. The only way to avail of the legal benefits of emotional support animals is an ESA letter. Here are few points why you should consider an esa letter instead of esa certification:
  1. An ESA letter is prescribed by a licensed Mental Health Professional, psychologist, psychiatrist, or physician. Moreover, on the letterhead it includes the credentials of the health professional.
  2. An ESA letter defines the need of an emotional support animal as a part of treatment for the mental well-being of the individual.
  3. An emotional support letter requires periodical update ensuring the constant evaluation of individual’s mental health. In contrast, an ESA certificate does not require updation which means it can be used lifelong.
  4. It is important to note that the ESA certification is not a legal document for an ESA.

Different Ways In Which Companies May Sell ESA Certification.

Several companies offer multiple illegitimate ways for the certification of emotional support animals. So, here are a few big red flags that you need to look out for before you choose a website or company for getting an ESA certification.

Certificates For Emotional Support Animals

The only legal and legitimate document for an emotional support animal is an ESA letter, which means no other certificate or document is legally required for an ESA. Therefore, companies selling additional certificates for ESA don’t hold any legal weight.

Registry Of An Emotional Support Animal

Several companies or websites may tell the ESA handler that they need to get their emotional support animal registered. It is important to note that registering an ESA is voluntary and there is nothing like an official emotional support animal registry.

ID Tags, Vests, or Badges for an Emotional Support Animal

ID Tags, Vests, or Badges can only aid in the visual distinguishing of your companion animals from other pets, i.e. they do not serve as any certification. Companies offering ID Tags, Vests, or Badges as a certification or registration of an ESA may be a scam.

Instant Emotional Support Animal Letters

Organizations or websites that promise instant turnaround on ESA certificates are a big no as it is an indicator that they aren’t legitimate and the services they’re offering may be a scam. Getting an authentic ESA certificate needs a consultation with a licensed mental health professional, which is time-consuming and can’t be done instantly. Therefore, if a website claims an instant turnaround for an ESA certification without any consultation it may be a scam.

Do I Qualify for An Emotional Support Animal?

If any individual experiences the symptoms of mental illness, then they may qualify for an ESA. Here are a few disorders mentioned in DSM-V that may help you get an emotional support animal.

  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Learning Disorder
  • Autism
  • General Anxiety Disorder
  • Gender Identity
  • Bipolar
  • Cognitive disorders
  • Depression
  • Severe anxiety
  • Tic Disorder
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The common mental health conditions that may warrant an ESA recommendation.

  • ADHD
  • Anxiety disorders.
  • Depression.
  • PTSD.
  • Bipolar disorder/mood disorder.
  • Schizophrenia.

Difference Between Psychiatric Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

A psychiatric service animal is trained to perform a task that their handler is unable to perform on their own due to physical, emotional, or intellectual disability. They are specifically trained to assist apart from just emotional support and comfort. Whereas, an emotional support animal is a companion animal that is there for the emotional and mental well-being of the individual. The ESA are not necessarily a work animal, rather they provide therapeutic benefits. Moreover, the other major difference is that emotional support animal do not require any training, unlike service dogs. An ESA certificate is the one document that is enough to regard your pet as an ESA. However, Psychiatric Service Dogs enjoys more legal protections than emotional support animals and are allowed in public places like malls, cafes, parks, etc. whereas emotional support dogs do not enjoy the same. Moreover, the PSD are welcomed on all the airlines whereas emotional support animals are allowed on certain airlines only.

Does ESA Certificate Provide Any Benefits?

An ESA Certificate does not guarantee that your landlord will welcome your ESA. Here are a few ways you can use your ESA Certificate.
  • Emotional Support Animal certificates can be used for quick access to assert your pet is an Emotional Support Animal.
  • Emotional Support Animal certificates are easy to carry.
  • Emotional Support Animal certificates can be used as an accessory for the Emotional Support Animal.

Health Benefits of Emotional Support Animal

Emotional Support Animals have been proven to have a positive psychological impact and therapeutic benefit on individuals suffering from mental health conditions. Let’s look at the positive impact these little furry friends have on our lives.

Psychological Benefits Of Emotional Support Animal

Emotional support animals have been shown to have a positive psychological impact on individuals struggling with mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. The sense of support and companionship that an ESA provides helps the individual combat feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Moreover, with an ESA the handler gets a sense of responsibility which helps them feel needed which is very essential when struggling with disorders like depression. An ESA can be especially helpful during times of anxiety or stress as it provides comfort and a sense of security to the individual.

Therapeutic Benefits Of Emotional Support Animal

Studies prove that having an emotional support animal has a range of therapeutic benefits for individuals with depression and anxiety. Interaction with an animal can lead to lower blood pressure and reduce stress levels, overall positively affecting the mood and the quality of life of the individual.
With ESA one can feel more connected to the world, which is why having an emotional support animal helps individuals struggling with feelings of isolation or disconnection. When playing and interacting with these little furry friends human bodies release feel-good hormones like oxytocin, which can help elevate the mood and reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Moreover, having an ESA gives a sense of purpose or reason for the owner to get up in the morning which can be extremely beneficial for someone suffering from depression. Moreover, an emotional support animal can help individuals suffering from PTSD or social anxiety by providing them a non-judgmental companionship.

How Can I Get My Emotional Support Animal Certified?

The only path to legally ‘certify an ESA’ is to get a legitimate ESA letter. That means it must be obtained from a licensed mental health professional on their letterhead, which also includes the LMHP’s license number and specifies that you have a disability that qualifies for an ESA. To legally get an ESA Letter, you can follow the below-mentioned three-step procedure: 1. Appointment: Scheduling an appointment with a licensed medical health professional is the first step towards getting your ESA Certified. 2. Consultation: After the appointment is scheduled,  you will consult with a licensed medical health professional. 3. Approval: Once the consultation is done, the LMHP will approve your application for an emotional support animal. After that, your ESA Letter will be issued.
3 step process to get an esa letter

What Is The Role Of a Mental Health Professional In Certifying My Emotional Support Animal?

Proper counseling from a licensed mental health professional is vital for seeking ESA support. These medical professionals have years of knowledge and experience. They guide and assess individuals according to their mental health condition and evaluate the effect that an ESA can have on their mental well-being. Moreover, if an Emotional Support Animal is required, they issue an ESA letter for the individual. Therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists play a significant role in evaluating individuals. They deeply focus on their behavioral patterns and temperament and guide them with the best treatment plan. With the engagement of these professionals, individuals get a personalized assessment and legitimate ESA letter, fostering a comprehensive approach to mental health support. To enjoy the rights protected under federal law for ESAs, the individual must obtain a valid ESA letter from a qualified and licensed mental health professional rather than relying on an unofficial source.

What Are The Legal Rights That Emotional Support Animal Owners Enjoy?

Emotional support animal owners enjoy benefits that are protected by federal law. They have access to the “No Pet” accommodations without paying additional animal fees or facing any discrimination from their land owner due to the establishment of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Federal Fair Housing Amendments.

Under the Fair Housing Act, any ESA owner is allowed to live with their ESA without discrimination. As per the HUD guidelines, accommodation providers must respond to a tenant’s ESA application within ten days. Moreover, landlords are not allowed to restrict an ESA’s breed, weight, and size. An ESA handler does not have to pay pet rent or deposit.

Furthermore, to enjoy the rights offered by these federal laws, an individual must have an ESA letter obtained from a licensed mental health professional.

What Are The Responsibilities Of Emotional Support Animal Owners?

Ownership of an Emotional Support Animal comes with significant responsibilities. The owner must prioritize the animal’s well-being. This includes ensuring regular veterinary care, meeting the ESA’s emotional and physical demands, and ensuring a safe and secure accommodation. Additionally, the handler must be mindful of the public places where ESAs are allowed and abide by the regulations. The handler must understand that an ESA is not just a mere pet but a support tool in the individual’s mental well-being journey. Therefore, it is essential to take proper care of them so that they can positively contribute to the handler’s mental health. Addressing misconceptions about Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) is essential to foster understanding and responsible ownership. The ESA must exhibit excellent and calm behavior in various situations. It is important to note that an ESA cannot be exempt from social norms and basic etiquette. Owners should spend much time with the ESA to train them to behave appropriately in public places. However, this training is entirely different from that of a service animal who is there to assist the handler with any mental or physical disability. Additionally, a well-behaved ESA can help reduce the stigma and misunderstandings related to ESA and create a healthy and supportive environment for the handlers and others. It is essential to respect the Emotional Support Animals and ensure public awareness regarding the rights and responsibilities of the handler and the ESA, as this would lead to a supportive environment. Moreover, educating the public about the role of an ESA in mental health treatment helps to dispel the stigma and misconceptions surrounding the topic. However, the handler must uphold their responsibilities and ensure proper adherence to the rules and regulations. With mutual support, we can create an environment where ESA owners feel welcomed and secure and a community that knows the value of mental health and respects individuals suffering from any mental health condition. Lastly, the ESA letter is an essential document for your Emotional Support Animal. More importantly, it should be obtained from an authentic platform that ensures its legitimacy. So, don’t struggle alone on the journey to better mental health. Access the most reliable ESA letter from the comfort of your home and step towards a world full of happiness.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does An Emotional Support Animal Require Training?

The answer is no; Emotional Support Animals do not require training like a PSD. However, an ESA must show good and calm behavior in public places.

Can Anyone Issue An Emotional Support Letter?

The individual must know that the ESA letter is only considered authentic if obtained from a licensed mental health professional.

Can My Landlord Deny My Emotional Support Animal?

A landlord cannot deny the accommodation of an Emotional Support Animal if you have a valid Emotional Support Animal letter stating your need for an Emotional Support Animal as part of your treatment for mental well-being. However, the only scenarios in which a landlord can deny the ESA are when there is no reasonable accommodation for the Emotional Support Animal, or it would cause an undue financial burden on the landlord.

Is There Any Document Other Than The ESA Certificate For Emotional Support Animals?

Apart from the ESA certificate, which represents your pet as an Emotional Support Animal, there is another document called the ESA letter, which is the legal and legitimate document for an Emotional Support Animal and helps the ESA enjoy the benefits provided under federal laws.

How Much Does An Emotional Support Animal Letter Cost?

The ESA certification cost includes the fees for the consultation with the Licensed Mental Health Professional, which may range from $150 to $200 or even more, but with a Fast ESA letter. You can get an ESA letter for just $149, which is affordable yet authentic and legitimate.


In a nutshell, ESA certification is very essential as regards your pet as an ESA. However, the more important thing is to obtain it from an authentic platform that ensures the legitimacy of the certification. So, don’t struggle alone in the journey of better mental health. Get access to the most reliable ESA certification at the ease of your home and step towards a world full of happiness.

Posted in: Blog

About the Author

Patricia Thompson
Patricia Thompson
Patricia Thompson is a highly skilled clinical psychologist with over five years of expertise in the field. She possesses extensive knowledge and experience in using clinical guidance and providing recommendations for emotional support animals (ESAs) as a form of treatment for mental illness. Patricia's profound understanding of the therapeutic benefits of ESAs enables her to offer valuable insights and practical advice to individuals seeking emotional support. In addition to her clinical practice, Patricia also writes for Fast ESA Letter, sharing her expertise and advocating for the importance of ESAs in mental health care.


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