How to use a RAT

There are different brands of rapid antigen tests (RATs), so follow the instructions in your kit. Whether positive or negative, you should report your result online through My Covid Record or by calling the helpline.

Step-by-step instructions

Step 1: Prepare the RAT kit

Get ready by blowing your nose and then washing and drying your hands.

Lay out the contents of your RAT kit — a tube of solution, a stopper, a swab, and the test cassette. Remove the swab (it looks like a long cotton ear bud).

Step 2: Glide swab into nostril

Take the soft end and gently glide swab in 1 nostril, going low and slow, about 2 centimetres deep. Twirl the swab over the surface of the nostril around 5 times. Then repeat in your other nostril, going round again slowly 5 times.

Step 3: Put swab into solution

Get the tube with solution, open it, keep it upright and make sure not to spill it. Place the soft end of the swab into the solution and swirl about 5 times. You want to make sure that the swab is soaked.

Step 4: Remove swab from solution

Pinch the swab as you are removing it — squeeze as much liquid out as you can, to keep it in the tube. Place the stopper firmly on the tube.

Step 5: Shake tube

Give the tube a shake or flick a couple of times so it gets a good mix. Then leave upright for about a minute.

Step 6: Put drops on cassette

With the test cassette ready on a flat surface, take your tube (with the solution of your sample), and turn it upside down. Follow the kit instructions as to how many drops are needed for your test. Squeeze the drops through the stopper onto the well.

Step 7: Wait 15 minutes

Wait for 15 minutes — set a timer if that helps. Again, check with the kit instructions as the waiting time may differ.

Step 8: Check results

Check for results.

Invalid result

If there is no line at the C (C for control), or there are 3 lines, then the test did not work properly this time (it is invalid — this sometimes happens). You will need to do another test.

Negative result

If you see a single line at the C, this shows that the test has worked and you are negative for COVID-19.

Positive result

If you see 2 lines (even if it is a faint line at the T) then this shows you have tested positive for COVID-19. You will need to isolate for 7 days.

We recommend you isolate for at least 5 days, even if you have only mild symptoms, starting at Day 0.

Day 0 is the day your symptoms started or when you tested positive, whichever came first.

Video: How to do a RAT

Report your results

Please report your results (positive or negative):

Doing a test and reporting the result in My Covid Record means you can get the help you need as early as possible.

How to report your RAT result

Dispose of your test

You should dispose of your used RATs, and expired RATs that you can no longer use.  

For used RATs, place the test cassette, swab, tube of solution and stopper into your general household rubbish bin. Any cardboard packaging and instructions can then be placed into your recycling.

For expired RAT kits, please recycle the cardboard packaging and instructions, and then place all other kit items in your general household rubbish bin. 

If you have bulk quantities of RATs to dispose of, please contact your local waste management provider to discuss disposal options with them.

More information

This information is available in a printable poster.

How to use a rapid antigen test (RAT) [PDF, 730 KB]

The Ministry of Health has information on approved RATs and how to use them.

Approved RATs and how to use them | (external link)

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