TThe government website where you can order four free at-home tests for COVID-19 and have them shipped to your doorstep is now live and available for use.
Starting today, January 18, you can visit a new federally operated website, COVIDtests.gov, and request to book free at-home rapid tests for COVID-19. The USPS will also deliver them to your home for free. The site was originally scheduled to launch on January 19, but it’s up and running and accepting orders a day early.
The program is part of President Biden’s effort to purchase and distribute one billion at-home coronavirus tests to the American public at no cost. Senior officials said in a background phone call to reporters on January 14, before the site’s official launch, that the White House had so far secured contracts for 420 million tests and “tens of millions” ready to ship immediately.
How to order free home coronavirus tests from the government
Here’s how to get free COVID-19 tests at home:
- Visit COVIDtests.gov, the official federal government website for the program.
- Click the Request Free Home Tests button, which will direct you to a separate USPS-operated website to submit your application.
- Enter your name and residence address that will be used for shipping.
- Follow the instructions for submitting your application, which include four tests for each title.
- Optional: Enter your email address to track test shipment.
People who find it difficult to access the Internet or the website can order the tests by calling an incoming toll-free number. (We will update this article when the phone number is released.)
“In-home COVID-19 tests will be shipped free of charge beginning in late January. USPS will send only one set of 4 free tests to valid residential addresses,” states the USPS order confirmation letter. “We cannot process duplicate requests for the same address.”
Once your application is confirmed, the White House says the USPS will ship your tests within seven to 12 days via first-class mail. Senior officials said they expect shipping time to decrease as the program increases.
“Every website launch comes with risks,” 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 across management and the Postal Service are working hard to make this work.”
Frequently Asked Questions About Free COVID-19 Home Tests
What type of free COVID-19 tests are available for delivery?
The White House says the tests are rapid at-home tests that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The exact brands aren’t clear, but the administration says the tests will only be rapid antigen tests, which are also called over-the-counter (OTC) tests, 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 the tests take?
Orders will ship between seven and 12 days, according to White House estimates.
Specific delivery time frames may vary. The USPS website says first class mail is delivered within five business days. This may be in addition to the shipment processing time.
How many home tests can I get for free?
The current demand limit is four per residential address. This number is regardless of how many people live in your home. The order limit is currently in the first 500 billion tests. The Biden administration is in the process of buying another $500 billion, and officials have indicated that the four-per-family limit may be reconsidered as more testing becomes available.
Do I need health insurance?
No. Tests available through COVIDtests.gov are available to anyone with a residential shipping address in the United States and its territories. No proof of residency or insurance is required to apply.
I was able to order my exams before January 19th. Was this a glitch?
Psaki acknowledged Tuesday that the site was live and accepting applications ahead of the official launch of COVIDtests.gov and special.usps.com/testkits as part of beta testing. Applications submitted during the beta testing period will be honored.
How can I get free COVID-19 tests at home?
In addition to the four free tests available through COVIDtests.gov, the White House has announced a free at-home testing program for people with private health insurance.
From January 15, private insurers must cover the cost of tests at home, either by covering the costs up front at pharmacies and retailers — similar to how prescription programs already work — or by paying out-of-pocket for the tests.
In addition, several states have distributed their inventory of home tests through local libraries and community centers. In-person testing is also available for free at more than 20,000 FEMA test centers or pop-up sites, according to the White House.
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