How To Get An ESA Letter In California – The Definitive Guide Updated For 2024

California has some of the most progressive state laws regarding emotional support animals in the country. Emotional support animals are already a protected class under certain laws. However, a large number of complaints to the Department of Housing and Urban Development are about discrimination relating to disabilities and a misunderstanding of the laws that protect ESA’s..

Whether you live in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or somewhere else in California, you want to educate yourself about the laws that protect ESA’s . That’s why it’s essential to know precisely what the laws regarding ESA’s are in your state. You should understand what legal standing emotional support animals have, what ESA letter requirements you may need, and how both of these factors will affect your living and travel in California.

Here is everything you need to know about obtaining an ESA letter in California, as well as valuable information about the legality of emotional support animals in the state.

Do You Qualify For An ESA Letter In California? 

Federal law allows a licensed mental health professional to recommend qualified people for an ESA letter. Emotional support animals are typically dogs or cats that are provided to treat symptoms of things like panic attacks, depression, anxiety, or PTSD. If you are diagnosed with a mental or physical disorder like these, you could qualify for an ESA letter in California.

There are many benefits to having an emotional support animal for these disorders. A few of them are listed below.

ESA for Panic Attacks

You can qualify for an emotional service animal if you are someone who suffers from frequent panic attacks. Symptoms of panic attacks include shortness of breath, chest pain, trembling and shaking, nausea, and a racing heart. Occasional panic attacks are nothing to be concerned about, but it may be time to look into getting an emotional support animal if you have them often.

Emotional support animals can be useful for panic attacks because they distract you from the panic attack. If the emotional support animal is a dog, they take your focus off of the panic attack and refocuses you on their needs, such as walking and playing. Cats are similar in that they need attention and can provide “cuddle therapy.”

ESA for Depression

There are several different kinds of depression, but having an emotional service animal can help with all of them. Depression is a disorder that is identified by constant sad feelings, lack of focus, and a loss of interest in daily activities. Depression often results in a lack of energy to get up and do things during the day.

Having an emotional support animal that requires attention can help people with depression get up and start moving again. A dog or cat can provide companionship, give the person a feeling of purpose, and get them out of their head. ESA’s can help people with depression get out of a negative thought pattern and start making their way toward recovery.

ESA for Anxiety

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is identified by constant excessive anxiety for things in life with no apparent reason. People with this disorder tend to expect the worst and continuously worry over almost everything. It’s an exhausting disorder, but emotional support animals can help.

When people with GAD have an emotional support animal to take care of, it gives them something else to focus on other than themselves. The emotional support animal can also help them feel like they’re not alone. It’s also been scientifically proven that petting animals can lower blood pressure and heart rate, which is beneficial for anxiety sufferers.


PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a lifelong disorder onset by a traumatic experience or event. People with PTSD often have nightmares or flashbacks of the event that seem to come out of nowhere and have symptoms such as insomnia or outbursts of anger. Having an emotional support animal to cope with these symptoms can be very helpful for those who have PTSD.

Emotional support animals, especially dogs, can sense when their owner is stressed or overwhelmed. They’re also good companions and do not judge or criticize people with PTSD. They engage the person and help detach them from nightmares or flashbacks they may experience. They also help the person relieve stress and bring out “feel-good” endorphins.

If you are a person who has a mental or physical disability defined in this list or you have something else not set in this list (such as learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, chronic stress, or other psychological disorders), you may qualify for an ESA letter in California. Check with a mental health professional to ask about a recommendation letter.

Emotional Support Animals Laws in California That You Need To Know

In the State of California, emotional support animals are protected by two main federal and state laws. Here is a list of emotional support animal laws with short descriptions of their scope.

Air Carrier Access Act

The ACAA is a law that allows you to fly in an airline cabin with your emotional support animal without paying any extra fees. This also applies to service animals. The only requirements are that you need to inform the airline 48 hours before your flight, as well as submit the required paperwork which can differ airline-to-airline. You can often find the necessary paperwork either on the airline’s website or on the airport website. 

How To Get An ESA Letter In California: Step-By-Step Guide

The laws for emotional support animals in California are well defined when it comes to getting an ESA letter. The process is not complicated. This is good news for people suffering from mental or emotional disorders, for which an ESA can be beneficial. Here’s the step-by-step guide:

  1. Contact a licensed mental health professional through our website or directly if you have an outstanding relationship and schedule an in-person visit. Let them know that you would like an ESA letter for your animal should you qualify.
  2. The mental health professional will evaluate you to determine your eligibility for an ESA letter.
  3. The mental health professional may or may not send you an onboarding form as a supplement to the in person assessment.
  4. If they approve, you can receive your ESA letter through mail or email within days.


As you can see, the process is not overly complicated. Unlike the rules and regulations for service animals, the laws in California regarding emotional support animals are very straightforward. This makes it easy to get an emotional support animal letter from mental health providers when you need it and should you qualify. If you live in California and suffer from a mental or psychological disorder, consider getting an ESA; it’s less expensive (and in some cases, less complicated) than getting medication! To start the process, contact a real professional from Emotional Support Animal Registration.