TThe Government’s website, where you can order four free at-home COVID-19 tests and have them delivered to your door, is now live and ready to use.
Starting today, January 18th, you can visit a new website of the federal government, COVIDtests.gov, and order free rapid at-home COVID-19 tests. The US Postal Service (USPS) also delivers them to your home for free. The site was supposed to officially launch on January 19, but it’s up and taking orders a day early.
The program is part of President Biden’s effort to source 1 billion home coronavirus tests for free and distribute them to the American public. So far, the White House has received contracts for 420 million tests, and “tens of millions” are ready to ship immediately, senior officials said in a background call with reporters Jan. 14 ahead of the site’s official launch.
How to order free at-home coronavirus tests from the government
To get your free at-home COVID-19 tests:
- visit COVIDtests.gov, the federal government’s official website for the program.
- Press the “Order free home tests” button, which will take you to a separate one Site operated by the USPS to place your order.
- Enter your name and home 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 the dispatch of the tests.
People who are having trouble accessing the internet or website can order the tests by calling one of the nearest toll-free numbers. (We will update this article once the phone number is released.)
“COVID-19 home tests will be sent free of charge from the end of January. USPS will only ship one set of 4 free tests to valid residential addresses,” an order confirmation message from USPS said. “We cannot 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 via first-class mail. Senior officials said they expect the shipping time will decrease as the program ramps up.
“Every website launch comes with risks,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a news conference on Tuesday. “We cannot guarantee there will be no bugs or two, but the best technical teams in the Administration and the Postal Service are working hard to make this a success.”
Frequently asked questions about free at-home COVID-19 tests
What kind of free COVID-19 tests are available?
The tests are rapid, at-home tests approved by the Food and Drug Administration, according to the White House. The exact brands aren’t clear, but the administration says the tests will only be rapid antigen tests, also known as over-the-counter (OTC) or self-tests or home tests. PCR testing, which requires sending samples to labs for results, is not part of the program.
How long does it take for the tests to be delivered?
The White House estimates orders ship between seven and 12 days.
Exact delivery times may vary. The USPS website states that first class mail is usually delivered within five business days. And that can be in addition to the processing time of the shipment.
How many at home tests can I get for free?
The current order limit is four per residential address. This number is independent of how many people live in your household. The order limit is currently the first 500 billion tests. The Biden administration is in the process of raising another 500 billion, and officials have indicated the limit of four per household could be reviewed once more testing becomes available.
Do I need health insurance?
No. The tests available through COVIDtests.gov are available to anyone with a residential address in the United States and its territories. No proof of residence or proof of insurance is required to place an order.
I was able to order my tests before January 19th. Was that a mistake?
Psaki confirmed on Tuesday that the website was live and taking orders ahead of the official launch COVIDtests.gov and special.usps.com/testkits as part of a beta test. Orders placed during the beta testing period will be honored.
How else can I get free COVID-19 tests at home?
In addition to the four free tests available through COVIDtests.gov, the White House announced one free home trial for people with private health insurance.
Beginning Jan. 15, private insurers will have to cover the cost of home testing, either by paying up front at pharmacies and retailers – similar to what prescription programs already do – or by reimbursing you for tests you’ve paid for for out of pocket.
Additionally, several states have distributed their supplies of home tests local libraries and community centers. In-person testing is also available for free at more than 20,000 testing centers or pop-up FEMA sites, according to the White House.
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