Can You Fake an ESA Letter?

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Let’s cut to the chase: No, you can not fake an ESA letter. Attempting to do so knowingly can result in legal repercussions, such as financial penalties and potentially even jail time.

Faking an ESA letter doesn’t just put you at risk of legal punishment; it also means you are harming the legitimacy of emotional support animals. This can lead to dire consequences for those who seriously need their support. A recent example of this is the Department of Transportation (DoT) opting to no longer accommodate ESAs due to increased concerns about its ESA policy being abused.

If you believe you are eligible for an ESA letter, it’s important you obtain it through the legitimate, legal route. While the process may be a little more time-consuming, it isn’t as expensive or as difficult as it may seem. It also ensures you’re truly getting the right form of treatment for your disability and individual needs.

Today, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about ESA letters and how to obtain one the legal way. We’ll also touch on ESA letter scams and the red flags to watch out for.

What Is an Emotional Support Animal Letter?

An ESA letter is an official document that grants both you and your companion animal life-changing legal rights. The letter confirms that you have a diagnosed emotional or mental disability and have been prescribed an ESA as part of your ongoing treatment.

With a valid ESA letter, you receive additional housing rights, such as exemption from pet rent and no-pet policies (as per the Fair Housing Act). In certain states like California, employers must also reasonably accommodate your emotional support animal within the workplace.

How Do I Get a Valid ESA Letter?

The only legitimate way to obtain an ESA letter is to attend an appointment with a mental healthcare professional who is licensed to practice in your state.

During the ESA appointment, the healthcare professional will ask you several questions about your disability and the hardships it causes in your day-to-day life. You may also be asked about your living arrangements and if you have the means to care for an animal properly.

If the mental health professional decides that an emotional support animal is right for you and will help you manage your disability, they’ll provide you with an ESA letter. The letter will contain information such as:

  • The mental healthcare professional’s license information and official signature
  • Your contact information
  • The ESA letter issue date

Keep in mind that to be eligible for an ESA appointment, your disability must be officially diagnosed and impact at least one major life activity. Some disabilities that qualify for an ESA letter include:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Some states also have additional regulations in place. For example, states such as Montana require you to have had at least a 30-day relationship with a mental health professional before you can be prescribed a valid ESA letter.

ESA Letter Scams Online: What to Watch Out for

Several websites online claim they can give you a valid ESA letter immediately and bypass the whole ESA consultation process — for a large fee. However, these websites are unfortunately scams. It is a legal requirement to undergo an ESA consultation, meaning the ESA letters they provide are fake and won’t entitle you to any legal benefits.

If you do want to use a third-party organization to help you obtain an ESA letter, make sure they’re reputable and work with verified licensed mental health professionals. One example is US Service Animals, who even provide individuals with legal support during (and after) the ESA letter process.

How Can I Tell if an ESA Letter is Fake?

It can be difficult to identify whether an ESA letter is fake, but here are some telltale signs to watch out for:

  • The letter hasn’t been signed by a licensed mental healthcare professional
  • There is no license information on the letter (or the information is inaccurate)
  • Describes an ESA as a “service animal” or “assistant dog”
  • Blatant misinformation, such as stating ESAs have public access rights
  • Missing contact information on the letter
  • Refers to an “official” ESA database or claims your ESA is certified (ESAs are not legally required to be certified and there isn’t an “official” ESA database)
  • The mental health professional isn’t licensed to practice in your state — this automatically makes the ESA letter invalid
  • The organization you obtained the letter from lacks an established business address and/or doesn’t provide you with their contact details

Get Your Valid ESA Letter Today

You can’t (and shouldn’t) try to fake an ESA letter, but the process to obtain one is relatively quick as long as you’re truly entitled to an emotional support animal. You just need to schedule an ESA assessment with a licensed mental health professional. Alternatively, you can use a reputable third-party organization like US Service Animal to arrange the consultation for you.

With a valid ESA letter, your animal will be protected, and you’ll benefit from the Fair Housing Act and potentially other laws, depending on your state.

Claire S. Allen
Claire S. Allen
Hi there! I'm Claire S. Allen, a vibrant Gemini who's as bold as my favorite color, red. I'm a fan of two cool things: strolling the streets in a red jacket and crafting articles that connect with readers. With my warm and friendly personality, Claire is sure to brighten up your day!
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