How to get a COVID-19 PCR test

To get a free COVID-19 (coronavirus) PCR test at a HSE COVID-19 test centre you can:

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should self-isolate (stay in your room) and get a PCR test. If your symptoms get worse or you are worried about symptoms, phone your GP.

Immediate action required: Call 112 or 999 if:

you have difficulty breathing or are feeling very unwell

If you phone a GP

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Phone your GP.

Your GP assessment and COVID-19 PCR test will be free of charge. This includes GP out-of-hours services.

If your GP decides you need a test, they will arrange a test for you.

If your GP decides that you do not need a test

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you will be asked to stay home until you have had no symptoms for 48 hours. You should behave as if you have the virus and self-isolate (stay in your room). People you live with will need to restrict their movements.

What to do if you are a close contact

Treating COVID-19 symptoms at home

Limitations of testing for COVID-19

No test is 100% accurate. All tests have limitations. This is the same with the test for COVID-19.

The test will find the virus in most people who have symptoms. But in some cases it may not pick up that you have the virus.

Some test samples may go missing or we may be unable to identify a patient. This can happen in a very small number of cases due to human error. All steps are taken to prevent this and every effort is made to trace samples to patients.

Serial testing

Serial COVID-19 testing is a measure to test certain groups of people who do not have an infection. It is repeated regularly, sometimes weekly, on a voluntary basis.

Serial testing is offered as a precaution to people in certain settings where infection is more likely to occur. For example, certain workplaces or facilities, such as meat factories, residential care facilities or direct provision centres.

If you are being serial tested, you can go to school or work as normal unless you develop symptoms of COVID-19 or get a positive COVID-19 test result. In these cases, you should self-isolate (stay in your room) and your close contacts should restrict their movements.

Tests for people who have travelled to Ireland and want to exit self-quarantine

If you travel to Ireland from a non-designated state you must self-quarantine for 14 days after you arrive. You can end the self-quarantine 14 days after you arrive or by having a PCR test with a negative result (COVID-19 not detected) at least 5 days after you arrive. If you have a test, continue to self-quarantine until you receive a negative test result (COVID-19 not detected).

Read about travelling to Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic and self-quarantine on the website

Last updated: 21 June 2021 at 9.45am