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About COVID-19 testing

Find out about getting tested, the different tests used in New Zealand, and where you can be tested.

Testing is free

Generally, everyone can get a COVID-19 test for free — you do not need to be a New Zealand citizen or resident, and you will not have to pay for care if you test positive.

You may need to pay for a test if it’s to enter another country or for surveillance testing by the business sector, which is outside the mandatory requirements.

Who can get a free test?

A COVID-19 test is free if it is part of the public health response. This includes if you:

· have symptoms

· are a Household Contact

· are a critical worker and need a test to go to work

· are part of the healthcare and emergency service workforce

· require a test for domestic travel or to attend court

· do a job where mandatory testing applies

· have been told to get one by a health professional.

Where to get a test

You are allowed to leave your home to get a COVID-19 test while you are self-isolating.

Visit a community testing centre

Healthpoint lists testing centres by area. You can also search for a location near you on a map.

Order RAT home testing kits

Requesting RATs to use at home is an easy step-by-step process. RATs can be requested on behalf of someone else. You will need access to a mobile phone to validate your order.

You will be issued an order number. You can then collect your RAT order from a collection site listed on Healthpoint, or have someone collect it for you.

Get a test from your doctor

Your doctor may offer COVID-19 tests. Call them to find out and follow their advice.

When to get tested

Reasons to get tested may include if you:

  • feel unwell
  • are a household contact of someone with COVID-19
  • are travelling internationally (depending on where you’re travelling to)
  • are attending a court in person and are asymptomatic and unvaccinated
  • are required to in order to undertake your work

If you think you need a test, call Healthline on 0800 358 5453

Financial support while awaiting results

If you cannot work from home, your employer can apply for the COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment so you can continue to get paid.

Different types of COVID-19 tests

In New Zealand there are three types of test for COVID-19: PCR, Saliva and Rapid antigen.

PCR tests

PCR (or nasopharyngeal) tests are the most accurate test, and can be done at community testing centres, hospitals and medical centres. Results can take 2-5 days.

It is is a swab of the back of your nose and throat. A swab is like a small cotton-bud but with a longer stick.

Saliva tests

This testing is available for border workers. Saliva samples can be self-collected and dropped off at a collection point or observed by a health care worker.

Rapid antigen tests (RATs)

A rapid antigen test (RAT) is generally taken with a front of nose swab. It can be done in hospitals, medical centres, pharmacies and at home. These are used more often when case numbers are high.

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