Are you thinking of flying with your Emotional Support Animal (ESA)? Are you moving into a new apartment or house with your ESA? With either scenario, you might be wondering what type of proof you need to make this process go smoothly.
In this guide, we discuss the documents you need to make traveling or moving house easier with your emotional support animal. We also detail the factors you need to know when flying with your ESA when it comes to airline restrictions and modes of transportation. Let’s begin!
Does My Dog Need a Passport?
If you are thinking of traveling abroad with your ESA, you might be wondering whether they will need a passport.
Documents such as the ESA Evaluation Letter, Travel Letter, and Housing Letter make these processes possible. These documents allow for exemptions of travel and housing pet fees, which can reduce the owner’s anxiety and minimize costs. Certain dog passports are actually summaries from a vet stating whether the animal is up to date on shots and vaccinations.
ESA Evaluation Letter
To receive an ESA Evaluation Letter you will first need to schedule a time with a therapist to assess whether you qualify. Registering an animal as an ESA is not a requirement, but can be helpful since certain sites provide up to data, applicable info for pet owners.
Usually, you will have to fill out an initial assessment form that will ask you detailed info about yourself. Therapists want to understand as much about you and your mental health history before an in person or live video meeting. You will then need to book an appointment with a licensed mental health professional. The assessment will be finalized and completed after the face to face meeting occurs. They will assess you to see if you require an animal companion for emotional support.
Once they evaluate that you will benefit from having an emotional support animal, they will then issue an official document to verify this. This is the ESA Evaluation Letter. It will be your proof that your dog is an ESA. This important document will need to be kept safe.
ESA Travel Letter
An ESA does not require a passport to travel on a plane. However, they do need an official document called an ESA Travel Letter. This will enable the animal to fly in the cabin of a commercial or private airline with its owner.
As of January 2020, ESA animals are protected by the Air Carriers Act (ACAA). Under the ACAA, regardless of its breed or size, the emotional support animal will be exempt from standard pet fees. This will help the owner feel at ease and unburden them from the worry of additional costs
The ESA Travel Letter will ensure that travel limitations will not be placed on the owner. This will help alleviate any feelings of isolation and loneliness the owner may feel without their ESA.
Finally, it is also important to bear in mind that airlines require ESA travel letters to be renewed on an annual basis. Adhering to annual renewal guidelines will make traveling aboard with the support companion more straightforward.
ESA Housing Letter
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects renters who have emotional support animals. For housing, this law helps the renter qualify for no-pet housing without being charged an additional pet fee.
The FHA ensures that a person can move house without the added strain of being parted from their ESA. To qualify for this exemption, the renter needs to furnish proof of the ESA Housing Letter. An ESA Housing Letter is an essential document to have in the process of moving. Unlike ESA Travel Letter, the Housing Letter does not need to be renewed.
A mental health professional Third Party Verification form may also be required. The requirement for this is at the discretion of the landlord or property manager.
Naturally, the owner of the ESA will need to abide by common rules such as: keeping their companion under control, avoiding unruly behavior, and preventing excessive noise levels. As with traveling, they may need personal training to prevent any problems arising.
What Bits of Paperwork Do I Need to Have On-Hand When Traveling?
Some major airlines will require extra documentation in addition to the travel letter when traveling with an ESA. They are as follows:
● Reasonable Accommodation Form
● Medical/Mental Health Professional Form
● Veterinary Health Form
● Confirmation of Animal Behavior Form
● Animal Sanitation Form
Each airline has its individual ESA policies and requirements. Therefore, it is vital to contact the airline before making any flight arrangements. Their guidelines may also be stated online. Some airlines provide an added feature to download and submit additional forms via email or fax. Ensure that you have all the right paperwork ready and keep copies for your records.
An ESA does not require specialized training, unlike a service dog that is trained to help someone with a disability. However, if the owner is considering traveling on a plane, it will be their responsibility that the ESA remains calm and under control during the journey. They will have to ensure that the flying experience is not disruptive and uncomfortable for themselves, fellow passengers, and members of the airline staff. Therefore, training your animal before boarding a flight is a good idea. It will help facilitate a smooth and pleasant journey.
Are There Any Transport Methods That I Cannot Take My Dog on?
It may not be as easy for an ESA to travel on public transport as it would be for them to travel via plane. They are not trained as service animals are. As such, public transportation providers may be concerned about their interaction with passengers.
The reasoning behind this is that an ESA may act unpredictably around the public. This behavior could potentially disturb and annoy commuters. Therefore, it is entirely at the discretion of the transportation provider to allow an ESA onboard public transit. If the animal can demonstrate that they are well-behaved and can be controlled effectively, this may persuade staff to allow them to board.
An ESA is beneficial for the betterment of a person’s emotional and mental well-being. With how important these animals are to their owners, it is essential to have the right documentation. These documents can make traveling or moving easier and safer for both the person and the animal.