Testing for COVID-19

Find out more about the types of COVID-19 tests.

Types of COVID-19 tests

There are 2 types of test that can detect if you have the COVID-19 virus:

  1. polymerase chain reaction (PCR, or RT-PCR)

  2. rapid antigen self-tests (RATs).

Find out more from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) about how COVID-19 testing works.

Early diagnosis means you can avoid spreading the virus to someone else.

Check your symptoms

  You can find translated information about when you should get tested for COVID-19 in over 60 languages.

Accessing free rapid antigen tests

You can access free RATs if you hold an eligible Commonwealth concession card:

  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
  • Department of Veteran's Affairs Gold, White or Orange Card
  • Health Care Card
  • Low Income Health Card
  • Pensioner Concession Card.

You can access up to 10 RATs over a 3 month period (max 5 over a 1 month period) through community pharmacies.

How to do a rapid antigen test

How to do a rapid antigen test (RAT)
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Rapid antigen testing – concessional access program

The COVID-19 Rapid Test Concessional Access Program (CRTCA) is a temporary program which provides people with valid, eligible Commonwealth concession cards access to up to 20 free rapid antigen tests.

You will need to attend a participating community pharmacy in person and present your Commonwealth concession card.

You will need to give consent to the pharmacy to record your concession card details. The pharmacy will check and confirm your details, including whether RATs have already been provided to you.

The pharmacy will give you a minimum of 2 RATs for each eligible individual. You can ask for up to the monthly limit of RATs per eligible individual at any time, subject to availability.

RATs will be increasingly available from pharmacies in the coming weeks. Phone ahead of your visit to check that they are participating in the free RATs program and have any in stock.

Free RATs are only available to eligible concession card holders through participating community pharmacies.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms do not attend a pharmacy to collect RATs. Go directly to a testing centre.

If you test positive

If your rapid antigen or PCR test returns a positive result you must isolate at home. 

If you took a PCR test your local health department will contact you. 

If you took a rapid antigen test you must let health authorities know. 

Follow your local health advice to register as a COVID-19 positive case:

Follow our guidance on what to do if you test positive for COVID-19.

If you test negative

If your rapid antigen or PCR test returns a negative result you do not need to isolate.

Last updated: 
8 June 2022

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