How to get free at-home Covid-19 tests from the government

Americans can now sign up to get free home Covid-19 tests from the federal government, and pictured, a Covid-19 test, received through a government program, at a home in Easton, New Hampshire, in December 2021.

By Tami Luhby, CNN

(CNN) -- Americans can now sign up to get free home Covid-19 tests from the federal government.

Though the website formally debuted on Wednesday, the Biden administration quietly launched it the day before. Orders began pouring in immediately.

The program is part of the administration's effort to increase testing amid the nationwide surge of the Omicron variant. The White House is ordering 1 billion tests for distribution.

Have you tried to get a free home test from the federal site? Did it work smoothly or was there an issue? Tell us about it here.

Here's what you need to know about getting free home tests from the federal government:

How do I order the tests?

Go to and sign up. You'll need to enter your name, email and residential address. Orders will not be shipped to businesses.

You should receive an email confirming your order and providing tracking information.

Thousands of readers have told CNN that the process was easy and swift, taking only a few minutes. However, some have reported that they received a message that tests were already ordered for their address.

How many tests can I get?

Four tests will be shipped to each residential address, regardless of household size.

When will I receive them?

The US Postal Service will begin shipping the tests in late January, according to the website.

The tests should ship within seven to 12 days, the White House has said.

What if I get an error message?

In addition to getting messages that tests were already ordered for their address, some consumers are being told that their home addresses aren't valid.

If you are having an issue placing the order, file a service request with the US Postal Service.

What if I don't have internet access?

Those who can't access the website or need additional help placing an order can call 800-232-0233, according to an FAQ section on It is the same number listed for getting help finding vaccines on

Those who use text telephone devices, known as TTY, can call 888-720-7489.

What if I need more than four tests or I can't wait for weeks to receive them?

Most Americans with private insurance can buy home tests online or in stores and have them paid for at the time of purchase or get reimbursed by submitting a claim to their insurer.

Insurers may set up a network of preferred stores, pharmacies and online retailers where consumers can receive tests at no cost up front. People could still buy tests outside that network, but insurers would only have to reimburse up to $12 for each one.

Prescriptions aren't needed. You can get up to eight tests per covered individual per month.

Medicare, however, is not reimbursing enrollees for home tests bought at retailers, leaving some senior citizens fuming.

Also, many Americans have complained that they can't find Covid-19 tests because retailers and online vendors are sold out.

I could also use some masks. Can I get those from the federal government too?

Beginning next week, Americans can start picking up N95 masks from a number of local pharmacies and community health centers through another Biden administration initiative. The program should be fully up and running by early February, according to a White House official.

The Biden administration is distributing 400 million N95 masks from the Strategic National Stockpile in an effort to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

Americans can get up to three masks per person.

Earlier this month, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidelines to recommend that people wear the most protective mask or respirator they can find that fits well and that they will wear consistently.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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