How to get your free COVID-19 tests in the mail

The initial shipment of at-home COVID tests has a limit of four per household.


Sarah Tew/CNET

As the highly contagious omicron variant spreads, at-home COVID-19 test kits have become very popular, and very hard to find in many locations. To lessen the strain, the US government is now offering free at-home COVID-19 test kits through its website at COVIDtests.gov.

You can order the tests in less than two minutes — you only need to provide your contact information and shipping address. 

The US Postal Service says it’ll begin shipping out the free tests in late January. Those tests might not help you today, but it’s worth ordering them for the continuing omicron wave and any future outbreaks. The test kits are available to those living in the US and its territories.

Here’s how to order your free COVID-19 tests today and what do to if you have problems. For more, here’s what we know about at-home test kits and how to pay for home COVID tests with your FSA or HSA.


Now playing:
Watch this:

What to do if you lose your vaccination card, and how…



3:00

How to get your free COVID-19 tests

You only need to provide the USPS with a few bits of information to get your free test kits. You won’t be asked to provide any credit or debit card details as both the tests and shipping are free.

1. Visit special.USPS.com/testkits. You can also get there via covidtests.gov.

2. Enter your contact details and shipping information.

3. Click Check Out Now.

4. Verify your information is correct and select Place My Order.

USPS said it will start shipping the COVID-19 test kits in late January, so keep an eye on your mailbox for your delivery. All orders will be shipped through First Class Package Service.

The Biden administration said it would have a phone number people who don’t have access to the internet can use to place an order. That phone number is not yet listed on the order website.

How can I track my order?

Once you place your order, you should receive a confirmation email. When your package ships, you’ll receive email notifications providing you with shipping updates, including a tracking number and estimated delivery date.

You can either click the tracking link or copy and paste the tracking number into the USPS website’s tracker.

Covid-19 at home rapid test kit

Get your free COVID-19 test kits now.


Sarah Tew/CNET

How many COVID-19 test kits can I get? 

USPS said each residential household is eligible for four free at-home rapid antigen COVID-19 tests. That means only one person per address will be able to place an order for the free tests — even if you have more than four people living in your home. 

Can I choose which brand of test I want? 

No, there’s not an option to choose which brand of test you want. All tests mailed out will be at-home rapid antigen tests authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.

What are some problems accessing free COVID test kits?

During Tuesday’s soft launch, it appeared the site had issues recognizing some addresses, especially if a person lived in an apartment building, multi-family home or residence connected to a commercial property. That problem continued on Wednesday morning.

“I live in a multi-family home so USPS says it’s already been ordered by my neighbors,” a resident of Astoria, Queens, complained on Facebook. “How can I get around this?”

The Postal Service said addresses not registered as multiunit buildings may lead to difficulties placing orders, CNBC reported. Some users have reported that adding an apartment number in the main address line, rather than in the section for apartment number, enabled them to order.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said IT experts with the White House and USPS “are working hard to make this a success.”

“Every website launch, in our view, comes with risk,” she told reporters on Tuesday. “We can’t guarantee there won’t be a bug or two.”

The USPS also has launched a site for ordering COVID kits. According to the service, those still having trouble placing orders should file a service request online or call 800-ASK-USPS.

For more information, read more about at-home COVID test kits. Also, here’s the latest on the Army’s efforts to develop a vaccine for all COVID-19 variants and future coronaviruses.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.