Skip to main content

We use strictly necessary cookies to make our site work. We would also like to set optional cookies (analytical, functional and YouTube) to enhance and improve our service. You can opt-out of these cookies. By clicking “Accept All Cookies” you can agree to the use of all cookies.

Cookies Statement and Privacy Statement

The HSE only accept PCR tests for diagnosing COVID-19. This is the most reliable way of testing.

Private companies can offer other types of tests. We do not recommend or endorse any particular test provider. 

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should self-isolate immediately. Call your GP and they can arrange a free HSE COVID-19 test.

Read about how to get tested for COVID-19.

Read about what to do if you are a close contact.

PCR testing

This is the most reliable COVID-19 test available because it looks at the genetic material of the virus. It is done in a lab and is a very reliable way of knowing if you are currently infected with COVID-19.

If you get a PCR test from a private company and you test positive for COVID-19, the lab has to report this to the HSE. This means that your close contacts can be contacted by contact tracing.

Read more about contact tracing

Antigen testing

Antigen testing is quicker but less reliable than PCR testing. This type of test does not have to be done in a lab. Antigen testing is not recognised by the HSE at this time.

If your antigen test is positive

If you get an antigen test from a private company and you test positive for COVID-19, the lab will not report this to the HSE. This means that your close contacts will not be informed and could spread COVID-19 to others.

If you test positive, you should self-isolate and call your GP. They will arrange for you to get a free PCR test. 

Find a GP in your area.

You will need to show your GP proof of your COVID-19 test result.

This can be a:

  • text message
  • email
  • printed report

If your test is negative but you have symptoms

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should self-isolate, even if your antigen test result is negative. Call your GP and they will arrange for you to get a free PCR test.

If you're a close contact

If you are a close contact, you should continue to restrict your movements even if your test result is negative. Restrict your movements for 14 days from when you were last in contact with the person who tested positive for COVID-19.

Read about how to restrict your movements.

Antibody tests

Antibody tests check for antibodies to see if you had an infection with the virus in the past. This test requires a blood sample. The HSE does not currently offer these tests. 

Related topics

Protect yourself and others from COVID-19

Travel advice from the Government

Treat COVID-19 symptoms at home

Last updated: 5 January 2021 at 2.30pm

Join the Fight Against Coronavirus.

Download the CovidTracker app
COVID Tracker app on phone