Expired At-Home COVID-19 Test – Is it Still Accurate?

Summer travel season is here, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people test for COVID-19 before they travel. This includes those who are fully vaccinated and those who haven’t received the COVID-19 vaccine.

If you take an at-home COVID-19 test, be sure to check the expiration date first. But even if the date has passed, don’t throw it out. Check the FDA website to see if the manufacturer applied for and received a shelf-life extension.

What does the COVID-19 test expiration date mean?

The expiration date listed on your box of COVID-19 tests is the final day the test is expected to perform effectively. Generally, the FDA authorizes at-home test kits with a shelf life of about four to six months, but the shelf life could be extended if the manufacturer finds more data that shows the tests are still accurate past the expiration date.

How do I know if the shelf life of my COVID-19 tests has been extended?

If the manufacturer finds the shelf life is longer than the expected four to six months, it can request that the FDA authorize an extended expiration date. Once that happens, the manufacturer may notify customers of the new expiration dates. However, if you didn’t buy the tests via the manufacturer, you likely won’t receive any notifications. If you haven’t received any notices and want to know if the expiration date on your COVID-19 test kits has been extended, check the FDA’s At-Home OTC COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests webpage. Scroll down to the search box and type in the name of your at-home test kits.

Ordering Additional COVID-19 Tests

Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order a third round of free COVID-19 tests. The tests can be ordered online or call 800-232-0233.

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