JThe government website where you can order four free COVID-19 home tests and have them shipped to your door is now live and available.
Starting today, January 18, you can visit a new federally run website, COVIDtests.gov, and book rapid at-home COVID-19 tests for free. The United States Postal Service (USPS) will deliver them to your home, also free of charge. The website was supposed to officially launch on January 19, but it is live and accepting orders a day earlier.
The program is part of President Biden’s effort to procure and distribute 1 billion free home coronavirus tests to the American public. So far, the White House has secured contracts for 420 million tests and “tens of millions” are ready to ship immediately, senior officials said in a phone call with reporters Jan. 14, ahead of the official website launch.
How to order free home coronavirus tests from the government
Here’s how to get your free at-home COVID-19 tests:
- Visit COVIDtests.gov, the official federal government website for the program.
- Press the “order free home tests” button, which will redirect you to a separate site operated by the USPS to place your order.
- Enter your name and residential address which will be used for shipping.
- Follow the instructions to place your order, which includes four tests per address.
- OPTIONAL: Enter your email address to track test shipments.
People who have difficulty accessing the internet or the website can order the tests by calling a toll-free number next. (We’ll update this article when the phone number is released.)
“COVID-19 home tests will be shipped free of charge from the end of January. The USPS will only ship one set of 4 free tests to valid residential addresses,” reads an order confirmation message from the USPS. “We are unable to process duplicate orders for the same address.”
Once your order is confirmed, the White House says the USPS will ship your tests in seven to 12 days by first-class mail. Senior officials said they expected shipping time to decrease as the program ramps up.
“Every website launch comes with risk,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a press conference on Tuesday. “We can’t guarantee there won’t be a bug or two, but the best technical teams in the administration and the postal service are working hard to make this a success.”
Free Home COVID-19 Testing FAQs
What types of free COVID-19 tests are available for delivery?
The White House says the tests are rapid home tests that have been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration. The exact marks are unclear, but the administration says the tests will only be rapid antigen tests, also called over-the-counter (OTC) or self-tests or home tests. PCR tests, which require samples to be shipped to labs for results, are not part of the program.
How long will it take for the tests to be delivered?
Orders will ship between seven and 12 days, according to White House estimates.
Exact delivery times may vary. The USPS website states that first class mail is usually delivered within five business days. And this may add to the processing time of the shipment.
How many home tests can I get for free?
The current order limit is four per residential address. This number is independent of the number of people living in your home. The order limit is currently on the first 500 billion tests. The Biden administration is in the process of procuring an additional 500 billion, and officials have indicated that the four-per-household limit could be reviewed as more tests become available.
Do I need health insurance?
No. The tests available through COVIDtests.gov are available to anyone with a residential delivery address in the United States and its territories. No proof of residency or insurance is required to place an order.
I was able to order my tests before January 19th. Was it a problem?
PSAKI acknowledged on Tuesday that the website was live and accepting orders ahead of the official launch of COVIDtests.gov and special.usps.com/testkits as part of a beta test. Orders placed during the beta testing period will be honored.
If not, how can I get free at-home COVID-19 tests?
In addition to the four free tests available through COVIDtests.gov, the White House announced a free home testing program for those with private health insurance.
Since January 15, private insurers have been required to cover the cost of home testing, either by covering upfront costs at pharmacies and retailers – in the same way prescription programs already operate – or by reimbursing you for the cost tests you paid for out of pocket.
Additionally, several states have been distributing their home test stocks through local libraries and community centers. According to the White House, in-person testing is also available for free at more than 20,000 FEMA test centers or pop-up sites.
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