Don't have the budget to buy crochet patterns? Browse my huge collection of free patterns here, with projects ranging from amigurumi to clothing, home decor, and more! ♡
    Read more
    Looking for inspiration for your next project? Get lots of ideas and patterns for a variety of themes, including holidays, craft fairs, keychains, no-sew amigurumis, and more! ♡
    Learn more
    Check out my free printables! There are printables to go along with crocheted items, printables for little ones, and printables for the home! ♡
    Learn more
Hey there!
Welcome to the Sweet Softies blog! Join me in celebrating the sweet things in life, from motherhood and education, to crafts, fashion, home, and more!

If you'd like to learn more about me, just click this button below!
read more

Traveling with Your Emotional Support Animal: ESA Letter Requirements

Emotional support animals (ESA) play an important role in ensuring that individuals with emotional or mental disabilities have the comfort they need. They are part of the prescriptions given by mental health professionals and serve as a treatment plan that alleviates symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. They solve the problem of isolation and withdrawal by providing companionship, which, as a result, reduces the feeling of loneliness. Petting with an emotional support animal reduces cortisol, a stress hormone, and triggers the release of oxytocin.
As an individual diagnosed with a mental disability, you would want to enjoy the freedom to travel with your emotional support animal without restrictions. As in any other state in the US, you are required to get an ESA letter in Iowa to enjoy such privileges. So, what do you need to know about the ESA letter requirements when traveling with your emotional support animal?

Specific Information in the Letter

Before you present your ESA letter to the airlines as you plan to travel, ensure it has a confirmation of your mental health disability. It should clearly show that you have a mental disability that requires an ESA. Your disability should qualify under the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorder’s criteria or different but relevant criteria. The information should be in precise language, describing the nature of your condition. For instance, post-traumatic stress disorder.

It should also explicitly state that the ESA is part of your therapeutic intervention and offers you emotional support as part of the treatment plan.

The letter should also describe how the ESA helps you deal with emotional disability. For example, it should be clear how the animal reduces your anxiety, offers comfort, and helps you feel calm whenever you are distressed.


The Esa Letter Should Be Valid and Current

Your emotional support animal letter should have proof that it was issued by a licensed mental health professional. It should include their license information in terms of:

  • Their license number
  • The kind of license they have (e.g., psychiatrist, psychologist)
  • The state in which they got the license
  • The date of issuance of the license

It should also have their contact information (phone number, office address, and email) so that the airline can verify any information directly from them.

The ESA letter should also have a visible current date, dated within the past year, as airlines prefer the letters to be updated annually. It should also be on a letterhead from the mental health professional’s office.


Documentation for International Travel

Varying requirements and regulations in countries have made traveling with an emotional support animal more complex. As an ESA owner, you must ensure compliance with the specific requirements in your home country and entry requirements of the destination country. Contact the embassy of the destination country to get the most recent guidelines. Carry an official health certificate and vaccination records of your ESA issued by a certified veterinarian to ascertain that the ESA is in good health. You may also need an import permit, depending on your destination country.

Airline Specific Requirements

Understand that different airlines have their specific procedure and requirements when it comes to accommodating ESAs. In most cases, they vary. That requires you to check with the airline you intend to travel with before your travel date to have enough time to ensure compliance. For example, in American Airlines, you will need to show your ESA’s veterinary health form. You will also need to present your acknowledgment form alongside your ESA letter.

Behavioral and Health Requirements

Airlines have their specific behavioral and health requirements for the accommodation of ESAs. You must ensure that your pet meets all of them before traveling. The ESA should be nonaggressive and not display disruptive behavior to protect other passengers. They should also be well-behaved, under control, and should follow instructions at all times. The ESA should be well-groomed and clean as you board the flight. Failure to follow these instructions forces the airlines to take action.


Advance Notification

Passengers traveling with their emotional support animals need to notify the airline they plan to travel with in advance. That is important for logistics purposes. You need to contact your airline of choice well in advance of your date of travel to enquire about their notification process, as you also find out all the documentation they need to avoid being inconvenienced.

Size and Sitting Arrangements

Airlines must ensure comfort and safety for all passengers. That is why they have specific requirements regarding your ESA’s size and sitting. In some airlines, there are particular weight limits and size dimensions in terms of height, width, and length that an ESA should not exceed while traveling inside the cabin.

The ESA should sit on your lap or at your feet during travel. You should not place them on the overhead compartment, and they should also not be disrupting the aisle. If your emotional support animal is too large and cannot comfortably fit on your lap or at your feet, you may have to consider paying for an additional seat.