Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests: A Comprehensive Guide

In light of the ongoing pandemic, the Biden administration has reopened its at-home COVID-19 testing program, allowing Americans to order four free tests.

The Current COVID-19 Situation

  • Hospitalizations on the Rise: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 hospitalizations have surpassed 20,000 this month, marking the highest since March.
  • Death Rate Increases: The CDC’s data tracker highlighted that 2.7% of all U.S. deaths in the week of Sept. 10-16 were attributed to COVID-19, showing a 12.5% spike from the previous week.

Background of the Testing Program

  • Initial Launch: The at-home COVID-19 test program was introduced in January 2022, offering four free tests for each residential address.
  • Expansions and Suspensions: The program underwent expansions in March and May but was halted last September. It made a brief comeback in December, only to be suspended again on May 31, 2023.

Ordering Your Free Tests

  • How to Order: Starting September 25, households can procure free tests via, which redirects users to a U.S. Postal Service platform.
  • Shipping Details: These free tests will commence shipping in the week of October 2.
  • Alternate Ordering Method: For those unable to access the website, a government hotline is available at 1-800-232-0233 or TTY 1-888-720-7489.

Key Features of the Tests

  • Detection Capabilities: The tests are designed to identify the currently prevalent COVID-19 variants and are recommended for use until the end of 2023.
  • Instructions Included: Each test kit has guidelines on confirming extended test expiration dates.
  • Extended Expiry: The Food & Drug Administration has prolonged the expiration dates for several OTC COVID tests, adding a few more months to their “use by” date. A comprehensive list of these tests and their updated expiration dates can be found on the FDA website.