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How long does it take to get my COVID-19 test result?

This article was updated on May 25th, 2024

The time it takes to receive COVID-19 test results can vary depending on the type of test administered and where it is conducted. Here’s a breakdown of the typical wait times for different types of COVID-19 tests:

1. PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) Tests

  • Standard Laboratory PCR Tests: These are often considered the gold standard for COVID-19 testing due to their high accuracy. Results typically take 1-3 days to process, but this can vary depending on the lab’s capacity and the current demand for testing.
  • Rapid PCR Tests: Some facilities offer rapid PCR tests that can return results within a few hours, though availability might be limited.

2. Rapid Antigen Tests

  • Rapid Antigen Tests: These tests can provide results in as little as 15-30 minutes. They are widely used for their speed, although they are generally less sensitive than PCR tests, meaning they might not detect all cases, particularly in asymptomatic individuals or those in the early stages of infection.

3. Home Collection Kits

  • Mail-In PCR Tests: Home collection kits where you collect the sample yourself and mail it to a lab typically return results within 1-3 days after the lab receives the sample. The total time can therefore be about 3-5 days, accounting for shipping.
  • Rapid Home Tests: Some home testing kits, such as BinaxNOW and QuickVue, offer rapid antigen tests that provide results within 15-30 minutes without the need to send the sample to a lab.

4. Community Testing Sites

  • Government or Public Health Testing Sites: These sites might offer both PCR and rapid antigen tests. The turnaround time for PCR tests at these sites is usually 1-3 days, while rapid tests provide results within minutes to hours.


  • Local Variations: Turnaround times can vary based on local demand, lab capacity, and logistical factors.
  • Notification Methods: Results are often delivered via email, phone call, or through a secure online portal.


By understanding the type of test you are getting and where it is conducted, you can better estimate how long it will take to receive your COVID-19 test results.

This article was written and edited by the Tayo editorial desk and has been reviewed by an independent panel of subject matter experts.

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