Get tested for COVID-19

There are 2 types of COVID-19 test available from the HSE: antigen tests (home test kits) and PCR tests (done at a test centre and sent to a lab).

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you need to self-isolate (stay in your room) right away, no matter what type of test you get. There is a high risk you could spread the virus. You should also wear a medical or respirator face mask if you have to be around other people.

Who should book a PCR test?

You can book a free COVID-19 PCR test online if you:

  • are 40 or older and have symptoms of COVID-19
  • are booking for a child aged 3 months to 3 years old who has symptoms of COVID-19
  • are a healthcare worker

Walk-in testing is not available, you need to book a test appointment online. You can see a list of test centres and choose one near you when you book online.

If there are no test appointments available, check back later. Appointments may become available later in the day.

You cannot book online for someone else, unless you are booking for your child.

Bring ID with you when you go for your test.

Children under 16 must have an adult with them if they are getting a test. A parent or guardian must give consent for a child under 16 to have a test.

If you have a weak immune system, or are in a high risk group, and have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP to get a PCR test.

Who should book antigen tests?

You should book free antigen tests if you are aged between 4 to 39 years of age and have symptoms of COVID-19. If you are in this age group, do not book a PCR test.

Information:

Find out what type of test you should get depending on your age and your situation:

I am aged 4 to 39 and have COVID-19 symptoms

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and are aged 4 to 39, you should use antigen tests. Do not book a PCR test.

You can book antigen tests online from the HSE between 8am and 8pm, 7 days a week. Only book 1 kit per person.

You also need to self-isolate (stay in your room). There is a high risk you could spread the virus.

Follow this advice even if you had your first round of COVID-19 vaccines, a booster, or a positive PCR test in the past 3 months.

Information:

If you have an underlying health condition and you have symptoms of COVID-19, talk to your GP. Healthcare workers should book a PCR test.

How to do your antigen tests

You need to do 3 antigen tests 3 days in a row.

Watch a video on how to do an antigen test

If any of your antigen tests are positive, you need to report your positive antigen test result online and list your close contacts. You do not need to do any more antigen tests. Do not book a PCR test.

If you get 3 negative (not detected) antigen test results, continue to self-isolate until you have not had symptoms for 48 hours. You should also report your negative antigen result online. This helps us learn more about antigen testing.

A negative antigen test does not mean that you do not have COVID-19.

If you have an invalid test result, do another antigen test.

Self-isolation

You need to self-isolate (stay in your room).

If you test positive, you need to self-isolate for 7 full days. You should also take extra care to avoid spreading the virus for 3 days after this.

Read more about what to do if you get a positive antigen test result

If you get 3 negative (not detected) antigen test results, continue to self-isolate until you have not had symptoms for 48 hours.

It's OK to stop self-isolating even if you have a mild cough or changes to your sense of smell – these can last for weeks after the infection has gone.

Face masks

Wear a medical or respirator face mask if you have to be around other people. But it is important to self-isolate (stay in your room) and avoid contact with other people.

Read more about face masks and when to wear one

I am 40 or older and have COVID-19 symptoms

If you are 40 or older and have symptoms of COVID-19, book a PCR test. Do not book antigen tests.

You also need to self-isolate (stay in your room). There is a high risk you could spread the virus.

Follow this advice even if you had your first round of COVID-19 vaccines, a booster, or a positive PCR test in the past 3 months.

Testing

You need to book a PCR test.

Find out what to do if your PCR test result is:

Self-isolation

You need to self-isolate (stay in your room).

You should start self-isolating as soon as you notice symptoms of COVID-19.

How long you need to self-isolate depends on the results of your PCR test.

Find out what to do if your test result is:

Face masks

Wear a medical or respirator face mask if you have to be around other people. But it is important to self-isolate (stay in your room) and avoid contact with other people.

Read more about face masks and when to wear one

Children 3 months to 3 years old with COVID-19 symptoms

If your child is 3 months to 3 years old and has symptoms of COVID-19, book a PCR test for them. Do not book antigen tests.

You also need to keep them at home and isolate them from other people.

Follow this advice even if your child had a positive PCR test in the past 3 months.

Testing

You need to book a PCR test for your child. Do not book antigen tests.

Isolation

They need to isolate (stay in their room) and stay away from other people. They should start isolating as soon as you notice symptoms of COVID-19.

As you will be caring for your child, you should also read the advice on caring for someone who cannot self-isolate.

How long they need to isolate depends on the results of their PCR test.

Find out what to do if their PCR test result is:

Face masks

Young children should wear a well-fitted face mask.

Read more about children and face masks

I am a close contact with no symptoms

If you are a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you will get a text message from the HSE with a link to get tested. If you do not have symptoms, follow the advice in the text message.

If you do have symptoms of COVID-19, follow the testing advice on this page based on what group you are in.

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

I have an underlying health condition and symptoms of COVID-19

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and you have an underlying health condition that puts you at greater risk from the virus, talk to your GP.

Testing

Talk to your GP to get a PCR test.

Self-isolation

You need to self-isolate (stay in your room) as soon as you develop symptoms. 

How long you need to self-isolate depends on the results of your PCR test.

Find out what to do if your PCR test result is:

If your symptoms get worse

Call a GP or out-or-hours GP immediately if your symptoms of COVID-19 get worse and you:

  • start feeling very unwell, particularly if your breathing changes, becomes difficult, or your cough gets worse
  • feel that you are getting increasingly short of breath
  • are showing signs of dehydration

When to get medical help and hospital treatment

What to do if your child has symptoms of COVID-19

Face masks

If you can, wear a medical or respirator face mask if you have to be around other people. But it is important to self-isolate (stay in your room) and avoid contact with other people.

Read more about face masks and when to wear one

I am a healthcare worker with symptoms of COVID-19

If you are a healthcare worker with symptoms of COVID-19, get a PCR test.

Visit the HSE’s staff website for information on COVID-19 testing for healthcare workers

I need to get tested for travel reasons

You cannot use a HSE COVID-19 test result for international travel from Ireland.

If you need a letter for travel, you need to have a negative PCR test from a private company. They will give you the letter you need to travel.

Read government advice on international travel

Last updated: 14 January 2022 at 12.31pm

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