Free COVID-19 Tests In Time For Holidays

The free COVID-19 rapid antigen tests can be delivered directly to your home.

A drawing of a hand holding a COVID-19 test.
(Image credit: Getty)

The federal government is once again offering to ship four free at-home COVID-19 tests to every U.S. household. 

After a round of free tests that started earlier in the fall, the government is again shipping them out for free with orders starting Monday, November 20. This round comes right in time for the winter holiday season, helping you to have a happy, healthy time gathered with family and friends.

The rapid antigen at-home tests, which are intended for use through year-end, are able to detect the currently circulating COVID variants, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said during the fall round of free tests. The tests will also include instructions on how to verify extended expiration dates, HHS said.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended the expiration dates of most COVID home tests. Before you throw out a test that you think has expired, be sure to check it against the FDA's list of authorized tests, which includes expiration dates and other information.

The tests, also known as over-the-counter (OTC) tests, can be used to determine whether you have COVID symptoms as well as whether you are up to date on COVID vaccines, HHS said.

The tests are made possible thanks to a $600 million investment from the White House in 12 COVID test manufacturers, said HHS and its Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) unit.

“The Biden-Harris Administration, in partnership with domestic manufacturers, has made great strides in addressing vulnerabilities in the U.S. supply chain by reducing our reliance on overseas manufacturing,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “These critical investments will strengthen our nation’s production levels of domestic at-home COVID-19 rapid tests and help mitigate the spread of the virus.”

The ASPR has so far provided more than 755 million free tests for households nationwide. In addition, the ASPR continues to distribute free tests to long-term care facilities, low-income senior housing, uninsured individuals and underserved communities.

How to get your free tests

To get your free at-home tests, fill out an order form with your name and address at the U.S. Postal Service website , or call l 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489). 

You can get four tests from the order, but if you didn't make an order earlier in the fall, you can get up to eight. Orders will start shipping November 27. 

In addition, no cost antigen and PCR COVID-19 tests are available to everyone, even the uninsured, at more than 1,000 sites nationwide, HHS said. To find a location near you, visit the Centers for Disease Control website.

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Vaishali Varu

Vaishali graduated in journalism from Leeds University, UK. She has worked for her local news outlet, the Leicester Mercury as well as writing personal finance stories for digital publications, The Money Edit, MoneyWeek and GoodToKnow. When she is not writing about money-saving, deals, finance hacks and other personal finance topics, Vaishali likes to travel and she's a foodie.