How do I Travel With My Emotional Support Animal?

How do I Travel With My Emotional Support Animal

For traveling with an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), you will require three primary documents.

They include – a letter from a medical or mental health professional that clearly mentions that you need a service animal (with an official letterhead) and a document from a vet that notes that your ESA has got their vaccines and has good animal health.

Finally, you will require an animal behavior form that states that you will be responsible for your animal’s behavior during traveling with an Emotional Support Animal

What are the Rules for Flying with an ESA?

Back in January 2021, the US Department of Transportation stated that each airline is free to determine its policies regarding psychiatric service animals and ESAs.

Popular emotional support animal airlines such as American Airlines, Alaska, Delta, Jetblue, United, and Air Canada, no longer recognize emotional support animals as a type of assistance animal. However, they still permit people to travel with their service dogs (and other animals) if the individual pays a pet fee.

Furthermore, there might be some restrictions regarding the animal’s weight, size, and breed. Therefore, it is best to consult the airline before time to procure more information regarding their policies.

Some airlines come under the category of ESA-friendly airlines. They require proper documentation, including a prescription to confirm that the animal’s presence is necessary to help with emotional conditions or a mental disability. Additionally, your flight attendant can guide you on the best practices for a smooth travel experience.


Legitimate way to certify your emotional support animal

  • Connects licensed medical practitioners to individuals seeking ESA letters
  • ESA letters comply with state and federal regulations

What are the Rules for Traveling on Amtrak with an ESA?

Regarding Amtrak Emotional Support Animal travel, only trained service dogs and cats are considered ESAs. You can not carry other exotic animals such as miniature horses, peacocks, and ferrets. According to Amtrak’s policies, species other than dogs and cats aren’t protected under the law when it comes to public places.

Amtrak also has other rules that include a weight limit. For instance, you cannot travel with a vet if their weight (including the carrier) crosses 20 pounds. Therefore, some of the large breeds might get restricted. Additionally, you might bring your pet on rides that last less than seven hours in a public setting.

Furthermore, you cannot take your vet into the eating, sleeping, or restroom area. The carrier that you use has to be approved by the company. Your pet must be at least eight weeks old and accompanied by complete paperwork, including their vaccine certificates (rabies vaccine, for instance). You will also be required to pay $25 to travel with your qualified vet.

What are the Rules for Traveling on Amtrak with an ESA?

It is to be noted that there are certain trains where guide dogs and other ESAs are not allowed. Also, Amtrak allows only five animals at a given time on one train. These animals should not participate in disruptive behavior and must fulfill any additional documentation requirements.

A certified and trained service animal can travel on Amtrak’s trains and to any area accessible by the passenger. Service animals receive protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and ride for free for the most part. However, if your pet takes up a seat (and does not travel in the foot space), you might have to pay extra for it.

If your pet is an ESA and has the appropriate documentation, you do not need to undergo certified training to get them registered. It is best to carry and update their documents to ensure a hassle-free journey.

What are the Rules for ESAs on Public Transportation?

Here are some rules for traveling with an Emotional Support Animal on public transportation:

  • Fully Understand All the Rules. Before you embark on your journey, you need to familiarize yourself with the rules about traveling with an ESA. For starters, you need to understand the difference between ESAs and Service Animals.
    If you have a service animal, you can board the flight without paying any fees. However, ESAs have to pay normal pet fees for traveling on most major airlines. This fee is not very high and can make air transportation much easier.
  • Check Pet Size, Breed, and Age Restrictions. There are some large pets and dog breeds that are not allowed on any airline, especially in the passenger cabin. This varies from airline to airline. Your pet’s carrier has to fit into the required size restrictions and should be able to fit under the seat in front of you, just like carry-on baggage.
    Some of the breeds that are not permitted on most US airlines include American Bully, American Staffordshire Terrier, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Bulldog, Mastiff, Pit Bull, Pug of any kind, Pekingese, and Shih-Tzu.
  • Get All the Required Documentation. Once you have confirmed that traveling with an Emotional Support Animal is allowed, you will need to ensure that you are carrying the required documentation. These may include health certificates, vet health forms, and doctor’s notes. The most important document you will need is your emotional support animal letter.
    This is a document that has been approved by a licensed mental health professional. It states that the presence of your pet helps you cope with your medical condition. Some countries have
    strict laws when permitting animals from foreign countries, so it is best to do prior research before traveling.

What Paperwork do I Need for Traveling with an Emotional Support Animal?

What Paperwork do I Need to Travel With My ESA

For traveling with an Emotional Support Animal, you will need to arrange for a veterinary health advisory form that states all details about your pet (age, weight, ability to travel, and that they’re up to date on vaccinations).

You will also require an emotional support animal letter for traveling with an Emotional Support Animal. The ESA letter is acquired from a mental health professional that states why you need your animal to travel with you.

Some airlines might also require you to sign an agreement where you take responsibility for your animal and will control them for the duration of the flight. See Alaska Airlines Emotional Support Animal for more context and understanding on the matter.

Finally, if your flying time is more than 8 hours, some airlines might require a document that your animal will not relieve itself throughout the flight. If it does, it should be done in an undisruptive manner. 

Some pet parents might not have access to a mental health professional or physician. In this case, telehealth can ensure that the process of getting an emotional support dog is easy.

Platforms such as CertaPet improve access to mental health care and also helps those individuals that require animal-assisted interventions as part of their treatment plan.  

Can an ESA Travel for Free?

Traveling with an Emotional Support Animal is not always free. This is because ESAs are usually considered pets unless they qualify as service dogs. As a result, you might have to pay a fee depending on your mode of transportation and the brand of the airline/train/bus.

If your pet provides emotional support and comfort, they can qualify as an ESA. If you do not have a pet, there are no restrictions on the species, breed, size, or weight of the ESA. This helps individuals select their choice of animals catering to their unique needs.

However, mental health professionals suggest that you opt for a domestic animal if you are looking for an ESA. This makes it easier to control the animal and makes their companionship more fruitful.

It is easy to find a comfort animal in local shelters and rescue groups. These places will allow you to interact with a particular dog or cat of your choice before adoption.

This ensures that there is a connection between you and your pet. As a result, you can be sure that the animal will provide the emotional support and the much-needed comfort you seek.

What are the Fees for Flying with an ESA?

According to the new rules of the US Department of Transportation, each airline can draft its policies when it comes to traveling with an Emotional Support Animal. Most airlines charge around $25 for traveling on their flights.

However, this is subject to change depending on the nature of the airline. Before paying for traveling with an Emotional Support Animal, it is best to contact the airline of your choice before time to find out their policies regarding the ESA.

What are the Fees for Traveling on Amtrak with an ESA?

While traveling with an Emotional Support Animal on Amtrak is allowed, the ESA should be kept in a kennel. They charge around $26 (or 800 Amtrak guest rewards) to travel on their trains.

Unfortunately, Amtrak does not recognize emotional support animals. But they permit service dogs and therapy pets to travel freely with their owners. This is because service animals go through training that Emotional Support Animals do not have.

What are the Fees for ESAs on Public Transportation?

While the fees for traveling with an Emotional Support Animal on public transportation services might vary, they cannot ask an individual with a disability to pay a surcharge.

Most entities do not charge individuals for traveling with Emotional Support Animals unless they cause some form of disruption or damage. However, they might not allow you to sit in certain spots (such as exit rows) to make the travel convenient for you and other passengers.