How to get a test
Getting tested early helps protect those around you.
If you have symptoms
If you have cold or flu symptoms, please call:
- your doctor or Nurse Practitioner
- iwi health provider, or
- Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453.
A health professional will let you know the next steps and if you should get a test.
People at risk
We particularly encourage you to get tested if you have symptoms and you’re:
- a healthcare worker
- an aged-care worker
- over 70 years of age, or
- if you have a pre-existing condition like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease or diabetes.
It is also a priority to test people who are symptomatic and have:
- been in contact with a confirmed or probable case
- travelled internationally in the past 14 days
- had direct contact with a person who has travelled overseas. This could include Customs, Immigration, and Managed Isolation and Quarantine staff
- worked on an international aircraft or shipping vessel, or
- cleaned at an international airport or maritime port in areas visited by international arrivals.
A COVID-19 test is free of charge. This applies whether you have symptoms of COVID-19 or not, and regardless of your citizenship, immigration status, nationality or level of medical insurance coverage.
You may need to pay for a test if it’s for the purpose of entering another country.
If you are asked to pay for a COVID-19 test, please report it to your district health board or primary health organisation.
You will not be charged for care if you test positive.
You will need to provide contact details so that your results can be sent to you.
You do not need to have an NHI number or ID to get tested. But it’s helpful if you have your NHI number when you get tested.
If you do not have a visa
Everyone can get tested — you do not need to be a New Zealand citizen or resident. The test is still free, and you will not be charged for care if you test positive. But, you may need to pay for a test if it’s for the purpose of entering another country.
No information will be shared with Immigration New Zealand even if you test positive.
Where to get a test
If you’re unsure if you should get a test, call your doctor or Nurse Practitioner, or Healthline on 0800 358 5453.
Get tested at your GP or Urgent Care Clinic
Most GPs can test for COVID-19, but you need to call them before you turn up.
Get tested at a Community Testing Centre
District health boards and public health units regularly update their lists of testing locations. Check back to see if there are new locations near you.
How testing works
If you need to be tested for COVID-19, a sample is taken from you.
There’s more than 1 way to take a sample. But, the most common way is to swab the back of your nose. A swab is like a small cotton-bud but with a longer stick.
For some people this is a tickle, others find it a bit uncomfortable.
The testing staff will tell you whether you need to self-isolate while you wait for your test result or not. Follow their advice about what to do next, and always stay home if you are feeling unwell.
Help protect healthcare workers when getting tested
If you get tested, we need your help to keep healthcare workers safe. That means continuing to cough and sneeze into your elbow, and staying 2 metres away from other people wherever possible.
Follow any instructions you get, like turning up on time, calling ahead or waiting in your car.
People testing you may wear protective equipment likes gowns or face coverings. This is nothing to worry about, it helps protect them and everyone they’re testing.
Getting the results
You’ll get the result within 1 or 2 days if it’s positive. You’ll get a call from your doctor or testing staff, and from the public health unit at your district health board. If you miss the original phone calls, you may receive a text message asking you to contact the local public health team to discuss your results.
If it’s negative, it might take up to 5 days. If you have not received your result after 5 days, please contact your GP or the place your test was done.
Testing data in New Zealand
The Ministry of Health publishes data on:
- lab testing and capacity
- total tests completed
- tests by day and the cumulative total
- testing rates, including testing by district health board (DHB) and ethnicity.
This data helps us measure New Zealand's recovery from COVID-19 and how to continue to respond in the best way. It also helps keep track of who is being tested, including vulnerable communities or at-risk groups with underlying health conditions.