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How to Get an ESA Letter Online

How to Get an ESA Letter Online

If you suffer from a mental health condition, one potential treatment option worth exploring is an emotional support animal, or ESA. ESAs are seen as an effective option to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, lessen the effects of panic attacks, and help their owners to live a normal everyday life. Any pet may do the job, but to have an official emotional support animal, you will need a valid ESA letter. The good news: you can get your ESA letter online.

Many patients prefer to get their ESA letters online because of the speed and convenience it offers. With just a few clicks and a few minutes of your time, you can start the qualification process and be connected to a licensed therapist in your state. Ultimately, your therapist will determine whether you qualify for an emotional support animal. If they choose to recommend an ESA as part of your overall treatment option, they will write an ESA letter for you.

From there, you can use this letter to enjoy the legal rights that come with emotional support animals.

Here’s how you can get your ESA letter online the legitimate way.

What Does an ESA Letter Do?

An ESA letter is a lot like a prescription from a doctor. It states that you have a condition whose symptoms are improved with the help of an emotional support animal. You can use this letter to keep your pet in your house without repercussions, even if an HOA or landlord typically does not allow pets. Your ESA status may also help you to avoid high pet fees that landlords typically make renters pay. In addition, your pet may be able to fly with you in the cabin for free with some airlines.

These benefits are not available to the average pet owner. You must have an ESA letter as proof that your pet provides emotional support and that you are currently receiving treatment for your mental condition. However, if you qualify for an ESA, these benefits can help to improve your overall quality of life by ensuring your emotional support animal is there when you need them the most.

If you’re concerned about the contents of the ESA letter, don’t be. The letter simply states that you have a condition that is alleviated by an emotional support animal helps. It does not provide any personal details or medical history, nor can anyone who requests the letter ask about your specific conditions. Your confidentiality is maintained, and the letter should be sufficient evidence that you need an emotional support animal.

Who Needs an ESA Letter?

Technically speaking, any animal can be an emotional support animal if that animal provides you comfort when you need it. There is no certification process for emotional support animals, nor do you have to register a specific pet as an emotional support animal.

However, some individuals may find it beneficial to have a bona fide ESA letter with their name on it.

For example, if you rent your home, you may need an ESA letter at some point in your life. When you rent your home, you are at the mercy of the rules of the landlord, complex owner, or HOA.  If they have a strict no-pets policy, your pet may not be able to live with you under the same roof without an ESA letter. Your ESA letter allows your pet additional rights and privileges. No landlord or HOA can legally stop your pet from living with you under the same roof if you have an ESA letter. What’s more, you may not have to pay any deposits or pet fees that regular pet owners may have to pay.

Even individuals who owned their homes may find that an ESA letter comes in handy. For example, if you are traveling via airplane or plan to stay in a hotel, your ESA letter allows your pets to travel with you. Some airlines have pulled back on their allowance for emotional support animals to fly in the cabin with you for free.

According to the Air Carrier Access Act, airlines are no longer required to treat emotional support animals as service animals. This means that many air carriers will now charge pet fees for emotional support animals, plus they will be stored in the cargo space instead of in the cabin with you. The good news is that some airlines are still operating “the old way,” meaning your emotional support animal still flies for free and can stay in the cabin with you. That is, if you have the proper paperwork.

The same holds true for hotels. Though hotels are not required to admit emotional support animals, they may do so as a courtesy to their guests if you have an ESA letter.

Last but not least, if you tend to take your emotional support animal just about everywhere you go, having an ESA letter can be helpful. Even though they are not the same as service animals and therefore do not have free access to retail stores, churches, malls, and other public areas, some places may be more willing to allow your emotional support animal if they have valid paperwork.

It’s up to you whether you need an official ESA letter. If you don’t travel much and you own your own home, you might not use your ESA letter as much as someone who rents a home or travels frequently. Still, since we never know where life will take us from day to day, having an ESA letter in your back pocket is a smart idea if you depend on an emotional support animal to life a higher quality of life.

How to Get an ESA Letter Online

ESA letters are provided by licensed healthcare providers that have the authority to write “prescriptions” for emotional support animals. That said, you do not have to do an in-person consultation with a provider in order to receive your ESA letter.

Therapypet.org offers an online-only process that gives you privacy and convenience. Within minutes, you can start the qualification process and we can connect you to a licensed therapist in your state to move you one step closer to receiving your ESA letter.

Many of our patients choose therapypet.org to get their ESA letter because they don’t want the hassle of scheduling an in-person visit. If you do not already have a therapist or counselor, finding one in your local area can be difficult and time-consuming. In many cases, therapists are not able to get you into their office right away. You could be waiting weeks or even months for an appointment to become available.

What’s more, many people who suffer from anxiety do not feel comfortable talking to someone face-to-face. The simple act of leaving the house to go seek help for their mental condition can be stress-inducing. There’s also the risk that you might see someone you know, which might make you feel judged or ashamed. It’s understandable that you will want to maintain confidentiality, and speaking with someone online provides a desirable option.

Scheduling an online consultation with a therapist is similar to doing a telehealth visit with your physician. Here’s a closer look at how it works:

Step 1: Pre-Qualify for an ESA Letter

We think it’s important for patients to know that not everyone will qualify for an emotional support animal. This is a very common misconception because there are so many scam companies online that will offer fake ESA letters to anyone who applies for one. Our therapists take this process seriously and only recommend ESAs to the patients who they feel will truly benefit from it.

We don’t want to waste your time. That’s why we start every consultation with a pre-qualification process. Just a few questions and five minutes will help us qualify you to speak with a therapist. This pre-qualification does not guarantee an ESA letter! We offer Travel Letters and Housing Letters, and you can specify which one you will need (or both!) before you speak with a therapist.

Step 2: Speak to an LMHP

For an ESA letter to be valid, it needs to be prescribed by a licensed healthcare provider. In most cases, this is a licensed mental health professional, such as a counselor, therapist, or social worker. (But sometimes, this person can be your primary care physician.)

At TherapyPet, we have a team of many mental health therapists licensed in all 50 states who can speak with you about your condition and write ESA letters. This is an important step in the process because all ESA letters must have the licensed professional’s name, contact information, license number, and signature in order for it to be considered valid. Many fake ESA letters lack some or all of these details, which makes them easier to spot.

These sessions are confidential, just like you were in their physical office behind closed doors. Here you can discuss the details of your letter, why you are seeking it, and any other information about your condition. Your therapist may have specific questions to better understand your condition so he or she can make the best recommendations.

Step 3: Receive Your ESA Letter

If your therapist approves you for an ESA letter, you will receive your letter in as little as 72 hours if you choose expedited delivery. This is a much shorter timeline compared to waiting weeks or months for an in-person office visit.

Why can’t the letter be downloaded instantly, you might ask? That’s because every letter is tailored to the individual. Unlike other companies, we take the time to write a letter that’s unique to you and contains the real signature of the therapist you spoke with. This is another difference between an authentic ESA letter and a fake one.

Other Ways to Get an ESA Letter

TherapyPet offers an attractive and easy way to get an ESA letter online. However, online is not your only option.

If you are already receiving treatment for your mental illness or condition, you may want to start the process with your current therapist or physician. In fact, this is one way how many people discover that an emotional support animal is an option.

Any licensed mental health professional or physician can write an ESA letter for you. However, getting your ESA letter online is still the preferred option, for many reasons.

For starters, the majority of ESA letters are not written by primary care physicians. This is partly because physicians work more with patients on physical health, not mental health. Oftentimes, they refer patients who need mental health care to specialists.

A general lack of understanding when it comes to ESA letters can also make licensed professionals shy away from writing them. If they are not familiar with emotional support animals, their legal rights, and the benefits they provide, they might not feel confident in recommending this option to you — even if they think it might benefit you.

Taking all of this into account, the best approach is to work with a therapist who is skilled and knowledgeable about emotional support animals. This not only includes the benefits that an emotional support animal can bring, but also the process of writing a valid ESA letter.

This is why many patients turn to TherapyPet. We have partnered with several therapists who are well-versed in emotional support animals and ESA letters. They speak with patients every day about ESAs and the role they can play in managing mental health. You can feel confident that you’re speaking to someone who “gets it” and accept their recommended treatment options.

How Long Is an ESA Letter Good For?

Let’s say you get approved for an ESA letter. What do you do next?

For an entire year after the letter is issued, you do not have to do anything else. However, ESA letters are only valid for one year and will need to be renewed. If you do not renew your letter and need to provide it to someone for documentation, they may deny your rights until you can provide current documentation.

When it comes to ESA letter renewals, you have a couple of options:

First, you can reconnect with the therapist that issued your last ESA letter. This person is already familiar with your condition and approved you for an emotional support animal the first time.

Or, you can simply start the process over with a new therapist.

In either case, it’s a good idea to maintain an up-to-date ESA letter even if you do not think you will need it. Doing so can save you the hassle and embarrassment of being denied a request simply because your letter is out of date.

For example, let’s say you decide to move to a new apartment, one that doesn’t typically allow pets. Even if you have good references, get back your entire cleaning deposit, and your emotional support animal has not caused any problems in your old apartment, your new landlord or HOA might still deny your pet request. Or, they may allow your pet but charge you an outrageous pet fee. That doesn’t seem fair, does it?

A current ESA letter can go a long way in avoiding this hassle altogether. Of course, there’s always the chance that your landlord will look at an old ESA letter and say it’s good enough. They might not even look at the date it was issued! But that’s taking a risk, and if for some reason they want a more current letter, you should be ready to provide them with one.

The Benefits of an Emotional Support Animal

Getting an emotional support animal letter online is a process. It doesn’t happen instantly, even though you can get the ball rolling pretty quickly. But don’t let having to take a few steps stop you from enjoying the mental and emotional benefits an emotional support animal can provide.

For starters, ESAs make great companions. Maybe you live by yourself and the loneliness makes you feel stressed or unsafe. Or maybe you have a family but you are home while they are working or at school and need something to help calm your nerves. An emotional support animal can make you feel happy and keep feelings of nervousness or stress at bay.

Depending on the type of emotional support animal you choose, you might get more exercise than you currently do. Many animals, like dogs, need daily walks and the chance to run around and play. If you are there alongside them, guess what? You’re getting more movement in your day, too! This can be extremely beneficial for your mental and physical health. Exercise generates endorphins, the feel-good hormone in the brain. You can leave your feelings of depression and anxiety behind for a while and just enjoy life in the moment.

If you struggle with socializing, pets can help you meet people and break the ice. Pets love to socialize too and often turn heads everywhere they go. If you happen to meet fellow pet owners on your adventures together, your pet can provide social “lubricant” that makes it easier to strike up a conversation with others.

Last but not least, pets are a great way to build routine into your life. Not having a routine can sometimes make people feel anxious and lost, wondering what to do next. Sometimes, we can start to feel like we’re not needed when we live alone. But our pets rely on us for many things, including food, water, companionship, and healthcare. We are very much needed and can make caring for an emotional support animal part of a daily routine.

Are ESAs the Same as Service Animals?

Truth be told, an emotional support animal provides a very important service to its owner. Many people who have emotional support animals say that they cannot function normally without them. When feelings of stress and anxiety become too great to bear, it can interfere with their daily activities and their ability to take care of themselves.

Still, emotional support animals are not legally defined as service animals. The two are vastly different and are therefore seen differently in the eyes of the law.

One of the biggest differences that set apart emotional support animals from service animals is training. Service animals are trained to perform very specific tasks for their owners. This might include fetching medications, retrieving objects, or serving as a guide. Typically, individuals with disabilities own service animals. The service animals help them to live a more normal life.

While emotional support animals also help their owners to live a higher quality of life, they are not specially trained to do anything specific. Rather, their “skill” lies in simply being present.

Another key difference is the type of animal that can be classified as a service animal. Currently, the law states that only dogs and sometimes miniature horses can be service animals. This is not the case for emotional support animals, which spanned a huge range. Llamas, goats, peacocks, ducks, squirrels, and turtles have all been classified as emotional support animals.

Perhaps the most notable difference between service animals and emotional support animals are the legal rights that each one provides. Service animals are welcome everywhere their owners go. This includes restaurants, retail stores, theme parks, churches, and even the workplace. Service animals are workers, and they typically wear a special vest indicating that they are a service animal. They should not be disturbed when assisting their owner, which means no petting or playing with them. What’s more, it is illegal for anyone to ask the specific nature of the service animal or the health conditions of the disabled individual.

Some of these rights overlap with emotional support animals, but emotional support animals have far fewer legal rights than service animals. For example, the big legal advantage for emotional support animals is being able to live with its owner in a place that may not otherwise allow pets. Aside from that, the emotional support animals are not granted access to other public places like service animals.

But like service animals, landlords cannot ask specific questions about the individual’s medical history or the exact purpose that the emotional support animal serves. You are not required to disclose any personal information about your condition. This is where an ESA letter can come in handy for emotional support animal owners. Instead of answering or deflecting questions, you can simply provide the ESA letter as proof that you have a condition that requires the assistance of an animal. This letter should provide sufficient evidence to anyone who inquires about it.

What Rights are Granted to Pets with an ESA Letter?

Until recently, it used to be that emotional support animals enjoyed more of the same legal rights as service animals, even though the two serve very different purposes. This meant that emotional support animals could live with their owners in places where regular pets are not allowed. They could also fly with their owners in the cabin of an aircraft instead of being boarded as cargo, which can increase the cost of your flight.

But laws have changed, namely the Air Carrier Access Act that now states airlines are no longer required by law to treat emotional support animals like service animals. This means that if your airline chooses to do so, they can require you to pay for your pet’s airfare and they will be stowed in the lower part of the plane with the luggage, not in the cabin with you.

However, the legal rights of emotional support animals in the Fair Housing Act still stands. This means that ESA owners can keep their animals under their roof even when no-pet restrictions apply to other tenants. Because technically, your ESA is not the same as a pet. If a landlord or HOA has specific breed restrictions or requires a pet fee or deposit, these requirements may be waived for emotional support animals. This is exceptional news for ESA owners, as the average pet fee can range anywhere from $200 to $500. In some cases, this is the price per pet! Getting an ESA letter will save you money right off the bat.

Last but not least, you are entitled to your medical privacy when providing proof that your pet is an emotional support animal. By law, no one can ask you or force you to disclose any specific medical details about your condition.

Why you should not expect with an emotional support animal is to enjoy all of the same privileges and access rights as a service animal when you are in public. By law, service animals are always welcome in retail stores, offices, markets, and other public spaces. But the same is not always true of emotional support animals. The places that do allow them do so as a courtesy to you, not because they are required to by law. If people abuse this access or animals were to become unruly, these privileges may be revoked. Be cautious when deciding whether to bring your emotional support animal to public places.

Misconceptions about ESA Letters

As you are exploring your options to get an ESA letter online, there are a few misconceptions we need to clear up that can save you a lot of time, money, and hassle.

Myth 1: Anyone Can Qualify for an ESA

Though online channels have made getting an ESA letter easier, it’s still not an option for everyone. That’s because emotional support animals are used by people who have a mental condition or illness — something that affects only 20% of the U.S. population. Therefore, not everyone who wants the privileges of an emotional support animal will qualify.

Candidates for ESAs must undergo an evaluation from a licensed mental health professional, usually a therapist, counselor, or social worker. This is the only way that you can receive a valid ESA letter. Any source that tells you that you can download one online by just paying a fee is misinformed or a scam.

Myth 2: ESAs Need to Be Certified and Registered

This is a common myth we hear a lot at TherapyPet, and it needs to be put to rest. ESA letters are all the proof you need to show that your animal is an emotional support animal. There is no validation process once you receive your letter, no certification process, and no “registration.”

Some companies offer these services simply as a way to make more money from you. These things look and sound official, so people naturally think they are. But under no circumstances do you need to take any further action once you receive your ESA letter. At least not until your letter expires. At that point, you will need to renew your letter by undergoing another evaluation with a therapist.

On a similar note, emotional support animals do not need to be registered or certified, either. Any service offering these documents is purely for show, not necessity or legality. Likewise, your animal does not need to wear a vest in public places. The only advantage to this is that a vest might make them look like a service animal and therefore allow you to avoid any confrontation. But these items are not required by law and you should not feel obligated to buy them.

Myth 3: Any Animal Can Be an ESA

Choosing an emotional support animal can be tricky. They are not subjected to breed or species restrictions like service animals. You can choose just about any type of animal for your emotional support animal, but understand there are consequences of “thinking outside the box.”

For example, if you ever want to take your ESA onboard a commercial flight or out in public, then you shouldn’t choose a potentially dangerous animal. Exotic or odd species are sure to attract more attention and may result in you being denied entry or boarding.

If your ESA is well-behaved and gentle-mannered, they may be more welcome in places compared to unruly animals. It’s beneficial to choose a breed or species that is easily trained

Myth 4: Online ESA Letters are Not Valid

There are a lot of scams online that have made online ESA letters look illegitimate overall. But there are many services that do provide valid ESA letters online that are as good as what you would receive from an in-person therapy visit.

The difference between a valid vs invalid letter is that a valid letter is written by a licensed mental health professional. This is the only way to receive a valid letter. Downloading a template online and paying a fee to have your name printed on it without speaking to a therapist is a scam. This letter will not afford you and your pet the same rights as an actual ESA letter.

It’s important to find an ESA letter provider you can trust. TherapyPet has worked hard to earn our reputation in the industry by hiring thoughtful, licensed professionals in all 50 states. We even conduct a pre-qualification process before we connect you with a therapist to ensure the best possible outcome.

You can learn more about our process here.

How to Spot a Fake ESA Letter

When you are trying to get your ESA letter online, you want to make sure you are not one of the many victims of fake ESA letters. The increased interest in emotional support animals as a form of therapy has given way to many unscrupulous companies who are eager to make a quick buck at your expense. Not only do these fake ESA letters create extra hassle for you, they also prevent you from enjoying the benefit that a real ESA letter intends.

How can you spot a fake ESA letter before you become a victim of a scam? Here are some things you can look for:

Online Reviews

Just like with any other type of business, online reviews can be very telling about a business’s integrity and other customers’ experiences. Customers who have been victims of scams will likely leave a bad review so that others do not fall prey to the same scam.

Before you choose an ESA letter provider, it’s a good idea to check their reputation online. See what others have had to say about the company, the qualification process, and the customer support provided after the process.

Better Business Bureau Ratings

The Better Business Bureau holds strong authority when it comes to validating a business online. Businesses who are affiliated with the BBB strive to maintain positive ratings and work hard to maintain consumer trust.

Granted, not having a BBB rating should not be an automatic disqualification. Not all companies are registered with the BBB. But if your selected ESA letter provider is, take it as a good sign. They have to follow specific rules and meet high standards of excellence, and most illegitimate companies won’t even attempt to do so.

The ESA Letter Qualification Process

Sometimes you can spot a fake ESA letter provider simply by looking at how they qualify candidates for the letter. They’ll often use false language, such as offering ESA registrations or certifications (by the way, there is no such thing). Or they might say that you do not need to meet with a licensed therapist in order to be approved. And if a provider says they can give you same-day turnaround and an instant download, you should look elsewhere for your ESA letter.

If you go through the qualification process, take a close look at the letter before you pay for it, if possible. Valid ESA letters will bear the name of the therapist, their license number, their state, contact information, and their signature. If any of these elements are missing, chances are your ESA letter is a fake.

The Price

While ESA letters are not overly expensive (they cost less than the standard apartment pet fee), they aren’t dirt cheap either. Many companies use a low price to compete with reputable providers like TherapyPet. They’ll offer a ridiculously good deal (think $5, $19, etc.) to make you purchase on the spot.

While everyone loves a good deal, the reality is that real ESA letters cost more than pocket change. That’s because you’re not just paying for the letter itself, but also a session with a licensed therapist to get treatment for your mental health condition. Therapy isn’t dirt cheap, so why would an ESA letter (which is essentially a prescription)?

Bottom line: if a deal is too good to be true compared to other providers, it usually is.

How to Get an ESA Letter Online with TherapyPet

One of the reasons so many patients trust TherapyPet is the way we’ve designed our process. We start with a quick pre-qualification process, then connect you with a licensed therapist in your state. You will have the opportunity to consult with a therapist on whether an emotional support animal makes sense for your needs. If you’re approved, your letter will be delivered by mail in as little as 72 hours.

Get started today — take our free, no-obligation ESA assessment now