Well, we all know by now how magical animals are, don’t we, so the term Emotional Support Animal comes as no surprise! But, in the United Kingdom (UK), Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) have never been recognised by law, therefore they’re subject to the same travel regulations as other pets. There’s no registration process for Emotional Support Animals, whether dogs or cats, in the UK. Just dogs alone carry out a myriad of duties to assist us humans. To name a few, there’s Guide Dogs, Police dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, and canines that can respond to their owner’s seizures. Recently, dogs have also been trained to detect COVID-19 at airports. The list goes on! In addition to the magical services animals provide, one of the most well known benefits of having a pet is the positive effects they have on stress, anxiety and depression. Pet ownership also promotes exercise and eases loneliness. Animals are truly incredible, and you’ll no doubt have heard of the comfort many cats and dogs have brought to soldiers in service. Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are pets, usually a dog or cat, that is required to accompany a person as part of their ongoing mental health treatment. Unlike other assistance dogs, ESA’s do not require any specific training, as they support a person just by being in their presence. So, even puppies and kittens can be attributed the ESA title! But, unfortunately UK law doesn’t see it this way, and now the USA has followed suit.
UK Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Law
Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are no longer allowed to travel under special regulations in the USA. Within the United Kingdom (Scotland, England, Wales & Northern Ireland), ESAs have never been recognised as service or assistance pets by law.
Even if you have an authorisation document from a licensed mental health doctor, there is no process for Emotional Support Animal UK registration. Consequently, you are unable to fly to the UK with an Emotional Support Animal in the cabin with you.
Due to government laws, airlines operating in the UK treat emotional support dogs or cats like any other pet travelling on the flight. So if you are travelling to the UK with an emotional support dog, cat or other furry companion, they will have to travel in the hold of the plane.
Only registered Assistance & Service Dogs are permitted to fly in the cabin of a commercial plane into the UK. This includes professionally trained and registered Psychiatric Service Dogs. No other dogs are allowed to enter the UK in the cabin of an aircraft. That is, unless you have access to a private jet!
Flying from the UK with an Emotional Support Animal
When flying from countries in the UK, some airlines allow dogs and cats in the cabin, but they will not be recognised as an Emotional Support Animal. Therefore normal pet travel fees apply, and your dog or cat will have to remain in their pet carrier during the flight. Of course, Assistance & Service Dogs can fly in the cabin free of charge from the UK.