Get tested when any of these apply:
- When you have Covid-19 symptoms.
- When you’ve had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, test 5 days after your exposure. Testing earlier to find out if you’re positive is optional.
- When asked by your school, workplace, doctor, or the Department Public of Health.
Think about getting tested in these situations:
- Before and after activities that put you or others at higher risk for COVID-19, like attending large gatherings or being in crowded indoor settings.
- When you work somewhere with a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission, like homeless shelters, jails, and settings with close contact with the public. See detailed testing guidance from the State.
- Right after a close contact with someone who has COVID-19. Earlier treatments might be open to you, and you can let anyone exposed to you know sooner if your test is positive.
No matter your vaccine status:
- For all international travel to the United States, you must get tested within 24 hours of your flight.
- For all travel to California from other states or countries, you should get tested 3 to 5 days after you arrive in California.
When you’re not vaccinated:
- Fever over 100.4° Fahrenheit or 38.0° Celsius
- Chills (shivering a lot)
- Difficulty breathing
- Fatigue or soreness
- Loss of smell or taste
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Diarrhea, feeling sick to your stomach, or throwing up
Your child does not have to get tested if they:
- Only have a runny or stuffy nose and
- No close contact with someone with COVID-19
Cost and privacy
- Some places offer tests for free and do not require insurance.
- Tests at San Francisco-run sites are free. But if you have health insurance, the City will bill your insurance.
- You do not need a doctor's note to schedule a test.
- The personal info you provide is confidential. Your test result will be reported to the health departments in San Francisco, your home county, and the state.
- If you shared the name of your doctor, your doctor will also get your results.
- A parent or guardian must consent in person to testing a child under 13. The guardian will get the results.
- Youth between 13 and 17 can get tested on their own. They can get their own test results.
After your test
- You should get your results in less than 48 hours.
- If you feel sick, isolate until you get tested or after talking to a doctor.
For those who’ve had an exposure and are not up-to-date on vaccines:
- In most cases you need to quarantine for at least 5 days.
You are not up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines if you are:
- Partially vaccinated
- Fully vaccinated but due for a booster
For more information about all situations needing isolation and quarantine, see official guidance from the Department of Public Health.
If you cannot get tested at a clinic or with your healthcare provider, you could use a self-collection kit. These kits can be done anywhere. They are sometimes called “home tests” or “at-home tests.” You can get these with a prescription, or over-the-counter in pharmacies or by mail.
These might not be allowed for healthcare purposes or traveling. Check any travel or healthcare requirements before you use the test.
At-home tests are used to check if you are infected now. They cannot tell you if you were infected in the past. At-home tests can be antigen or molecular tests. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and other nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT), or PCR/NAAT, are types of molecular tests. The FDA has information on which antigen and PCR/NAAT self-tests to use.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health has more information on when to use at-home self-tests.
Testing locations and more
Get tested outside home
After your test
If you feel sick or test positive for COVID-19, stay home for at least 10 days.
What to do if you live with, or had close contact with, someone who has COVID-19.
Personal hygiene, cleaning, and health tips to prevent COVID-19, especially for older adults.
Help for people having trouble getting or affording food during the coronavirus pandemic.
Apply for financial help to pay your rent, mortgage, or HOA dues. Information about the eviction moratorium.
About testing partners
Color is a health tech company providing a high volume COVID-19 test lab for multiple sites and mobile testing in SF.
One Medical is a national primary care practice. They operate numerous test sites throughout the US.
Optum provides COVID-19 testing at over 80 sites across CA, including City College.
Carbon Health is a tech-enabled healthcare provider with clinics across CA, virtual care in multiple states, and COVID-19 testing nationwide.
The COVID-19 test detects if you have the virus at the time you take the test. It does not test for immunity or if you had the virus in the past.
If your test is negative, you must still be careful. You can still get infected. Or you could still have COVID-19, but the test does not show you are infected yet. If you have COVID-19 symptoms later, you can get tested again.
Have questions or need more help? Call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.