COVID-19 Testing Overview
Find out who should get tested. Protect yourself and others. Wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet from others, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces, and wash your hands often.
Types of tests
- A viral test tells you if you have a current infection. Two types of viral tests can be used: nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) and antigen tests.
- An antibody test (also known as a serology test) might tell you if you had a past infection. Antibody tests should not be used to diagnose a current infection.
Who should get tested for current infection
- People who have symptoms of COVID-19.
- Most people who have had close contact (within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with someone with confirmed COVID-19.
- Fully vaccinated people with no COVID-19 symptoms do not need to be tested following an exposure to someone with COVID-19.
- People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered do not need to get tested following an exposure as long as they do not develop new symptoms.
- Unvaccinated people who have taken part in activities that put them at higher risk for COVID-19 because they cannot physically distance as needed to avoid exposure, such as travel, attending large social or mass gatherings, or being in crowded or poorly-ventilated indoor settings.
- People who have been asked or referred to get tested by their healthcare provider, or state, tribal, localexternal icon, or territorial health department.
CDC recommends that anyone with any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 get tested, regardless of vaccination status or prior infection. If you get tested because you have symptoms or were potentially exposed to the virus, you should stay away from others pending test results and follow the advice of your health care provider or a public health professional.
When you are fully vaccinated and traveling internationally
Before arriving in the United States, you are required to get tested 3 days before travel by air (or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months) and get tested 3-5 days after your trip.
How to get tested for current COVID-19 infection
- Contact your healthcare provider or visit your state, tribal, localexternal icon, and territorial health department’s website to find the latest local information on testing. The type of viral COVID-19 tests offered may differ by location.
You and your healthcare provider might also consider either an at-home collection kit or an at-home test if you have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and if you can’t get tested by a healthcare provider or public health official.
How to use results of viral tests
- If you test positive, know what protective steps to take to prevent others from getting sick.
- If you test negative, you probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. The test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing. Continue to take steps to protect yourself.