Important update: Healthcare facilities
CDC has updated select ways to operate healthcare systems effectively in response to COVID-19 vaccination. Learn more
UPDATE
Given new evidence on the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant, CDC has updated the guidance for fully vaccinated people. CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place.
UPDATE
The White House announced that vaccines will be required for international travelers coming into the United States, with an effective date of November 8, 2021. For purposes of entry into the United States, vaccines accepted will include FDA approved or authorized and WHO Emergency Use Listing vaccines. More information is available here.
UPDATE
Travel requirements to enter the United States are changing, starting November 8, 2021. More information is available here.

Test for Current Infection

Test for Current Infection

As of 12:01AM ET on June 12, 2022, CDC will no longer require air passengers traveling from a foreign country to the United States to show a negative COVID-19 viral test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board their flight. For more information, see Rescission: Requirement for Negative Pre-Departure COVID-19 Test Result or Documentation of Recovery from COVID-19 for all Airline or Other Aircraft Passengers Arriving into the United States from Any Foreign Country.

Viral Tests Look for Current Infection

  • A viral test checks specimens from your nose or your mouth to find out if you are currently infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Viral tests do not detect antibodies which would suggest a previous infection and they do not measure your level of immunity.
  • Viral tests can be performed in a laboratory, at a testing site, at home or anywhere else.

Learn what to do if you test positive or test negative.

Viral Test Types

  • Laboratory and Rapid Point-of-Care tests are performed in Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)-certified facilities to ensure quality of testing.
    • Laboratory tests can take days to complete and include RT-“PCR” tests and other types of nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs).
    • Rapid Point-of-Care tests can be performed in minutes and can include antigen tests, some NAATs, and other tests.
  • Self-Tests are rapid tests that can be taken at home or anywhere as long as the instructions are followed.

Learn more about the types of COVID-19 tests.

When to Get Tested

Review the scenarios below to determine when to get tested. If you have had COVID-19 in the past 90 days and recovered, you do not need to be tested unless you develop new symptoms.  If you develop new symptoms, isolate immediately and get tested. Continue to stay home until you know the results. Wear a well-fitted mask around others.

STEP
1
Do you have COVID-19 symptoms?

YES: Get tested immediately. Follow quarantine guidance while waiting for results.

NO: See Step 2.

STEP
2
Have you had close contact exposure to someone with COVID-19?

YES: Get tested at least 5 days after exposure. Follow quarantine guidance while waiting to test.

NO: See Step 3.

STEP
3
Do you need to test for …
Travel?

Outside of United States:

  • All travelers: Follow destination requirements.
  • All travelers: Consider getting tested as close to the time of departure as possible (no more than 3 days) before your trip.

To the United States:

  • Air passengers (2 years or older): Before boarding a flight to the United States, consider getting tested for current infection with a viral test as close to the time of departure as possible (no more than 3 days) before travel.
  • All travelers: Get tested 3-5 days after arrival in the United States.

Within the United States:

  • All travelers: Follow all state, tribal, local, and territorial health recommendations and requirements at your destination.
  • All travelers: Consider getting tested as close to the time of departure as possible (no more than 3 days) before your trip.
  • Get tested after travel if your trip involved situations with greater risk of exposure such as being in crowded places while not wearing a well-fitting mask or respirator.

NOTE: Cruise travel has different guidance. See Cruise Ship Travel During COVID-19.

More on Travel

Work or School?

Participate in screening program as required and/or recommended by work or school.

More on WorkplacesMore on Schools

An Upcoming Event or Gathering?
  • Reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 by getting tested as close to the event date as possible.
  • Self-tests are one of several options for testing for the virus that causes COVID-19 and may be more convenient than laboratory-based tests and point-of-care tests.

More on Self-Testing

Where Can I Get a Test?

Visit your state, tribal, local, or territorial health department’s website for the latest local information on testing.

Laboratory or Rapid Point-of-Care Tests

Self-Tests

  • Order free tests at COVIDtests.govexternal icon. Free tests are also available through local health departments.
  • Buy tests online or in pharmacies and retail stores. Private health insurance may reimburse the cost of purchasing self-tests. Visit FDA’s website for a list of authorized tests.
  • If you’re not able to obtain a self-test when you need it, you might also visit a community testing site, or call your local health department for more options.

What Your Test Results Mean

IF YOUR TEST IS

Positive

The test detected the virus and you have an infection.

IF YOUR TEST IS

Negative

The test did not detect the virus, but doesn’t rule out an infection.

  • If you have a negative test, but have symptoms of COVID-19:
    • You may have COVID-19, but tested before the virus was detectable, or you may have another illness, such as the flu.
    • Contact your healthcare provider if you have any questions about your test result, recommendations for quarantine or isolation, or your symptoms, especially if they worsen.
  • If you do not have symptoms of COVID-19 but were a close contact to someone with COVID-19, and you tested negative 5 days after exposure:
    • The virus was not detected. You are likely not infected, but an infection cannot be completely ruled out.
    • Follow CDC’s Quarantine and Isolation guidance, including monitoring for symptoms and wearing a well-fitting mask.
  • If you do not have symptoms of COVID-19 and do not have a known exposure to a person with COVID-19:
    • You do not need to quarantine.

Take Steps to Protect Yourself

Whether you test positive or negative for COVID-19, you should take preventive measures to protect yourself and others.

Additional Resources
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Don’t Delay: Test Soon and Treat Early

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