Free, confidential COVID-19 testing is available to every Californian. Get vaccinated to reduce the need for testing.

On this page:

How to get tested

Find testing near you

See a map of testing sites near you:

Find a testing location

More testing sites may be available at your area’s COVID-19 website.

Use an at-home test

Many drug stores now carry at-home kits. These let you test yourself and get results within minutes. They are available over the counter, without a prescription. Check with your local pharmacy or retail store.

Read more about at-home tests at the CDC’s Self-Testing page.

Get tested with OptumServe

California has partnered with OptumServe to provide free, confidential testing statewide. Tests are available for everyone, including:

  • Underserved communities
  • Individuals who are at high risk

Tests are by appointment only. Find a location near you and make an appointment at:

Register for testing

If you do not have internet access, call 1-888-634-1123.

OptumServe community testing sites serve all individuals who qualify for a test. This includes uninsured, underinsured, undocumented and homeless individuals. You do not need a driver’s license to get this test.

When to get tested

If you have symptoms

Vaccinated or not, get tested immediately if you’re feeling any COVID-19 symptoms.

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

Unvaccinated people should test before and 3-5 days after.

For mega-events of more than 500 people, all attendees should test 1 day (antigen test) or 2 days (PCR test) before the event and bring proof of negative results. Children under 2 are exempt from testing.

If you travel

Unvaccinated people should test 1-3 days 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 and travel guidelines.

When to isolate or quarantine

If you test positive or are exposed to COVID-19, you must isolate or quarantine.

Isolation means staying home and away from others. It is for people who are ill or test positive.

Quarantine means staying home. It is for people who have been exposed, but test negative.

If you test positive 

Whether you have symptoms or not:

  • Isolate until you feel better and test negative
    • Sleep and stay in a separate room from those not infected
    • Use a separate bathroom if you can
    • Wear a mask around others, even at home
  • Get tested (antigen preferred) on Day 5 or later
    • End isolation if you test negative
  • End isolation on Day 10 if symptoms are gone or going
  • After you recover, wear a mask around others for 5 days

Learn more in self-isolation instructions from CDPH.

If you were exposed

Even if you test negative:

  • Quarantine for 5 days
    • Day 0 is the day you found out you were exposed. Day 1 is the next day.
    • Wear a mask around others, even at home
  • Get tested as soon as possible to see if you need to isolate
  • Test again on Day 5
    • End quarantine if you test negative and have no symptoms
  • After quarantine, wear a mask around others for another 5 days
  • If you are fully vaccinated and got a booster shot, or recently vaccinated, you can skip quarantine
    • But still test on Day 1 and Day 5, and mask for 10 days

Healthcare workers should follow a stricter protocol. Read it at Guidance on Quarantine for Health Personnel.

Rules for isolation and quarantine may be more restrictive in your area. Check your area’s COVID-19 website.

Learn more about quarantine and isolation:

Cost for testing

There are no out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 testing at a testing site. An insured person can get a COVID-19 test when needed by any provider, in or out of their health plan network, at no cost. If you’re uninsured, the government pays for your test.

But there are some COVID-19 tests you do have to pay for:

  • At-home test kits 
  • Some rapid result tests

Testing at work

Screening tests are recurring tests of people without symptoms in certain high-risk workplaces. They are meant to detect COVID-19 early and stop transmission.

In general,

  • Fully-vaccinated individuals do not need screening tests in non-healthcare settings.
  • Asymptomatic employees in healthcare settings should still get screening tests. This is true no matter their vaccination status. There are a few exceptions:
    • Facilities may stop routine testing of asymptomatic staff who are fully vaccinated where:
      • More than 70% of residents and more than 70% staff are fully vaccinated in a long-term care facility, or
      • More than 70% of staff are fully vaccinated in an acute health care facility.
    • Facilities may continue routine testing for fully-vaccinated staff with compromised immune systems. Examples are those who have undergone organ transplantation or cancer treatment. These conditions might impact the level of protection provided by COVID-19 vaccine.

Read CDPH’s Updated Testing Guidance for more about workplace screening tests.

Questions and answers

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