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Where can I buy an at-home test kit for COVID-19 (coronavirus)?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Dec 4, 2023.

Official answer


Consumers in the U.S. can get at-home test kits for COVID-19 at most retail pharmacies. Free tests (up to 4 tests per U.S. address) are also available from the government at as of the fall of 2023. They do not require a prescription.

You may also be able to pick up tests at your local health department. Call them for more information.

These tests can show if you have an active COVID-19 infection. Rapid home tests give you results in minutes and can detect the currently circulating COVID-19 variants as of fall 2023. Kits may come with one or two tests and directions may differ between tests.

Can I buy COVID tests over the counter?

Yes, COVID-19 tests are available over-the-counter at many retailers in the U.S. They can also be purchased online. Your health insurance may pay for the cost of purchasing self-tests. Visit FDA's website for a list of authorized tests.

Names of common at-home test kits for COVID-19 include:

  • BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test
  • Flowflex COVID-19 Antigen Home Test
  • Genabio COVID-19 Rapid Self-Test Kit
  • iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test
  • On/Go One COVID Home Test
  • QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test

Most at-home rapid tests for COVID-19 detection are performed as nasal swabs. Follow the directions for your individual test package, as directions may differ from test to test.

The FDA has warned consumers of unauthorized fraudulent test kits being sold to test for COVID-19 at home. Fraudulent health claims, tests, and products can cause serious health risks. This may keep you from seeking treatment or delay your medical care. Check with your doctor about the validity of any test if you are unsure.

When should I do a test for COVID-19?

COVID-19 testing is important to help find out if you need treatment and if you need to stay away from other people to help prevent spreading the virus.

If you have symptoms (for example: fever, sore throat, cough), test right away. Test again if needed, based on the package instructions, if your first result is negative. If you test positive, contact your doctor right away to determine if you need antiviral treatment or other medical care.

If you were around someone who has COVID-19 but you have not shown symptoms, wait at least 5 full days after your exposure before you test. If you test too early, your result may not be correct.

Some people who are in certain high-risk settings may need to test as part of a screening program to detect COVID-19 infections.

You should consider testing before coming into contact with someone who has a high risk for severe COVID-19. This can include people who are older adults or have a weak immune system (immunocompromised), or have other medical conditions, especially if you are in an area with elevated COVID-19 hospital admission levels.

Related: COVID-19: Symptoms, Prevention and Risks

Related Questions

How do I know if my COVID test has an extended expiration date?

You can check to see if your COVID-19 at-home test kit has an extended expiration date by looking at the FDA's List of Authorized At-Home OTC COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests. On this list, look for the Expiration Date Column to determine if your kit has a new expiration date, based on the Lot Number and original expiration date found on your box.

  • If extended, the Expiration Date column will link to an "Extended Expiration Date" document that lists the lot numbers, original expiration dates, and the extended expiration dates.
  • If your lot number and / or original expiration date do not appear, or if the Expiration Date column states “Expiration Date: See box label,” do not use the test beyond the original expiration date on your test.

Why are some COVID-19 tests expiration dates longer?

It takes time for manufacturers to perform testing to determine the expiration date. Because of this, the FDA typically authorizes at-home COVID-19 tests with a shelf-life of about 4 to 6 months. An extended expiration date means the manufacturer later provided information showing that the shelf-life of the test is longer than when first authorized.

The expiration date of some authorized COVID tests have been extended by the FDA for many months. The FDA provides a table of authorized COVID-19 test kits and dates that have an extended shelf-life on their website.

This list provides the name of the test kit and the length of time the expiration date can be extended from the original date. Original expiration dates are found on the outside of the box or test package.

Bottom Line

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) at-home COVID-19 test kits have been authorized by the FDA for use in the United States. These test kits usually involve a nasal swab and can give you results in about 15 minutes.
  • The test kits are available in retail pharmacies for purchase. Also, announced in the fall of 2023, the U.S. government will send you 4 free tests per address from the website
  • If you were exposed to someone who has COVID-19 but you don't have symptoms, wait at least 5 full days after your exposure before you test for more accurate results.

This is not all the information you need to know about COVID-19 testing and does not take the place of your healthcare provider's directions. Discuss any medical questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.


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