COVID-19 testing is confidential and available to every Californian.
On this page:
How to get tested
Use an at-home test
Test yourself and get results in less than 30 minutes.
Plan ahead to have test kits on hand before you get sick. Kits are available at most pharmacies without a prescription.
Read more about at-home tests:
- CDC: Self-Testing
- CDPH: At-Home Testing – What You Need to Know
Get free tests
You can get free at-home tests mailed to you by the U.S. government. Limits apply.
At-home tests you can get at the store are now free or reimburseable for most people.
- Medi-Cal: Ask your pharmacist for free at-home tests with no co-pay. See Medi-Cal instructions for getting free test kits.
- Medicare: Bring your red, white, and blue Medicare card to a pharmacy to get your free tests. See details at Medicare Covers Over-the-Counter COVID-19 Tests.
- Private insurance: Insurance must pay or reimburse for 8 at-home test kits per month. Ask your insurance company for details. Find out more at How to Get Your At-Home Over-the-Counter COVID-19 Test for Free.
About expiration dates
Most antigen tests can be used safely past the expiration date on the box. The FDA has approved them for test expiration extensions.
- All FDA test extensions
- Extensions for at-home tests in California:
Tests can also be used past extended expiration dates if the internal test control continues to function properly. See these guidelines:
Find testing near you
See a map of testing sites near you:
Other testing sites may be available at your area’s COVID-19 website.
Find Test to Treat locations
At some testing sites, you can get medication for COVID-19 if you test positive and are eligible. These sites are called Test to Treat.
COVID-19 medication can prevent hospitalization and death. It works best if started right away. Test to Treat is an easy way to get this medication early.
Get tested and treated with OptumServe
California has partnered with OptumServe to provide free, confidential testing statewide. Tests and medication are available for:
- Uninsured or underinsured people
- Undocumented people
- People experiencing homelessness
- People who are at high risk and need COVID-19 medications
You do not need a driver’s license or ID. Appointments are recommended, but walk-ins are welcome. Find a location near you at:
Or call 1-888-634-1123.
When to get tested
If you have symptoms
Vaccinated or not, get tested immediately if you’re feeling any COVID-19 symptoms. If an antigen test is negative, take another in 24-48 hours, as early cases can be missed.
If you were exposed
Anyone exposed should consider getting tested as soon as possible, even if you have no symptoms.
Test again 5 days after exposure.
If you go to a high-risk event
Test before and 3-5 days after.
For mega-events of more than 1,000 people, it’s strongly recommended to test 1 day (antigen test) or 2 days (PCR test) before the event.
If you travel
Test before travel, and 3-5 days after.
Vaccinated or not, anyone entering or re-entering California should test 3-5 days after arrival.
Read more in CDPH’s testing fact sheet.
Testing at work
Screening tests are recurring tests of people without symptoms in certain high-risk workplaces. They help detect COVID-19 early and stop transmission.
- Vaccinated individuals do not need screening tests in non-healthcare settings
- Healthcare settings may have other requirements
Read CDPH’s Updated Testing Guidance for more about workplace screening tests.
Questions and answers
What should I do if I may have been exposed to COVID-19?
Regardless of your vaccination status:
- Get tested 3-5 days from your last exposure
- Wear a mask around others for 10 days, even at home
- If test result is positive, isolate
If you had COVID-19 within the last 90 days, test and isolate if you have symptoms. If you have no symptoms, you do not need to test.
Learn more about when and how to isolate, quarantine, or test.
What should I do if I test positive for COVID-19?
Treatment works best if started right away. Do not wait for symptoms to get worse. Read more about COVID-19 treatments.
Isolate (stay home and avoid others) until the threat of infecting other people has passed. Read about how long to isolate.
Notify people you have been in contact with so they can get tested too. Send an exposure notification through CA Notify.
Does my health plan have to cover my COVID-19 test at a testing site?
Yes. Health plans must cover COVID-19 testing at no cost to you.
- You can get a COVID-19 test at no cost from any provider at any time (in- or out-of-network)
- You should not pay anything for a COVID-19 test, including a co-pay or payment toward a deductible
- You do not need to have symptoms or to have been exposed to COVID-19
Learn more at Know Your Healthcare Rights: COVID-19 Testing.
What if I don’t have health insurance and I need COVID-19 testing?
How long does it take for COVID-19 test results to come back?
At-home tests give results in 15-30 minutes.
Results from rapid antigen tests are available in an hour or less.
PCR and other molecular tests sent to a lab are usually returned in 1-2 days after the lab gets the test. This does not include transport time.
If you haven’t received your test results and it’s been several days, contact the testing site.
What is acceptable as proof of a negative COVID-19 test result?
At-home COVID-19 tests may be used if a photograph of the completed test is taken with a time and date stamp. See CalOSHA testing FAQs for details.
In settings where at-home tests are not allowed, results should include:
- Name of person tested
- Type of test
- Date of negative test result
The results should be a printed document, email, or text message from your test provider or laboratory.
Test must have been taken in the last:
- 1 day for an antigen test, or
- 2 days for a PCR test.