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.

You can now get 4 free at-home tests shipped to you by the U.S. government. Limit is one shipment per household.

Get free test kits

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

Learn more in self-quarantine instructions from CDPH.

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

What should I do if I may have been exposed to COVID-19?

Get tested, even if you’re vaccinated. Know your status so you can avoid infecting others. 

If you have symptoms, stay home and self-isolate from others in your household.

Does my health plan have to cover my COVID-19 test at a testing site? 

Yes. Federal guidance requires health plans to provide testing at no cost to everyone. You do not need to have symptoms or to have been exposed to COVID-19. You do not need to be an “essential worker” to get tested.

To get tested you can go to any COVID-19 testing provider authorized or licensed by the state. You do not need to go to a provider that is in your health plan’s or health insurer’s provider network. You do not need to get permission from your health plan or health insurer before going to get a COVID-19 test. And you do not need to pay a co-payment for a COVID-19 test.

What if I don’t have health insurance and I need COVID-19 testing or care?

For the uninsured, the government pays for all necessary COVID-19 testing and care. Check your symptoms using the Symptom Screener or by talking to your doctor.

How long does it take for COVID-19 test results to come back?

Turnaround time for COVID-19 test results is usually less than two days. About two-thirds come back within a day, and more than 85% are available within two days.

This turnaround time includes shipping time. For labs that process home testing kits, turnaround time depends on when you mail back your kit.

If you haven’t received your test results and it’s been several days, contact:

  • Your healthcare provider,
  • Testing service, or 
  • Local health department.

Read more at California’s COVID-19 Testing Task Force.

What is acceptable as proof of a negative COVID-19 test result?

The following are accepted:

  • Printed document from your test provider or laboratory
  • An email or text message displayed on your phone from your test provider or laboratory

Results should include name of person tested, type of test, and date of negative test result. For PCR, the negative result must be from the last 3 days. For antigen, the negative result must be from the last day.

A shorter test window is required at mega-events (over 500 people). There you must show a negative PCR test result from within the last 2 days, or a negative antigen test result from within the last day. Children under 2 are exempt from testing.

When can I be around other people after I tested positive for COVID-19 but had no symptoms?

If you continue to have no symptoms:

  • Test again after 5 days. If you test negative, you can be with others.
  • Wear a mask around others for another 5 days, even at home.

The CDC has recommendations for people who test positive but have no symptoms.

If I test positive for COVID-19, what should I do to protect others in my household?

You should self-isolate (stay home and away from others). Avoid those in your household who have not tested positive:

  • Sleep and stay in a separate room from them
  • Use a separate bathroom, if possible. Multiple infected people in the same household can use the same room for isolation.

Multiple infected people in the same household can use the same room for isolation. Learn more in self-isolation instructions from CDPH.

Members of your household should get tested right away and quarantine (stay home).

  • If they never show symptoms, they may stop quarantine:
    • After 5 days with a negative test
    • After 10 days with no test 
  • They should wear a mask around others for a total of 10 days, even at home.
  • If symptoms occur, they should immediately self-isolate and get tested.

They do not have to quarantine if:

  • They are fully vaccinated and got a booster against COVID-19 and show no symptoms
  • But they should still test on Day 1 and 5, and wear a mask around others for 10 days

Learn more in self-quarantine instructions from CDPH.

Anyone exposed to COVID-19 should take extra precautions for 10 days:

  • Wear a mask around others, even at home
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Stay 6 feet from others
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces

Learn more about quarantine and isolation:

What support does California provide during COVID isolation or quarantine?

If you can’t work because you have COVID-19 or are near someone who has it, you can file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim

If you can’t work because you are caring for a family member with COVID-19, there is help for your lost wages. File a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim

In both these cases, you must have a note from a healthcare worker.


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