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COVID testing in Canada: What you need to know

PCR or rapid antigen? Where can I buy a test, what will it cost and how long will I wait? All your questions are answered here.

The information on this page is current as of March 10, 2022. Visit the Government of Canada website for the latest updates on COVID testing requirements, vaccinations, travel restrictions and more.

There are several different forms of COVID testing that you can get in Canada for a number of different reasons.

Find out more about the 3 main types of COVID tests available and decide which one might make the most sense for your personal situation. You can also learn more about when you might need a COVID test for travel to and from Canada.

Where to buy COVID home testing kits in Canada

Where can I get a COVID test in Canada?

BTNX Rapid Response Covid-19 Antigen Test Kit

BTNX Rapid Response Covid-19 Antigen Test Kit

IN STOCK

- Delivery: 1-5 business days
- Same-day shipping on all orders placed by 4PM EST
- Competitive, bulk pricing available
- Antigen test
- Results in 15-20 minutes
- Health Canada approved

  • $45 for 5-pack
  • Free shipping over $99

Buy now

ECOTEST Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test Kit

ECOTEST Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test Kit

IN STOCK

- Delivery: 1-5 business days
- Same-day shipping on all orders placed by 4PM EST
- Competitive, bulk pricing available
- Antigen test
- Results in 15-20 minutes
- Health Canada approved

  • $13 for 1-pack
  • Free shipping over $99

Buy now

Boson Rapid COVID 19 Antigen Test

Boson Rapid COVID 19 Antigen Test

IN STOCK
Delivery: 3-7 days

- Antigen test
- Results in 15-20 minutes
- Health Canada approved

  • $129.99 for 20-pack
  • Free shipping over $99.99

Buy now

Roche SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Test

Roche SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Test

IN STOCK
Delivery: 3-7 days

- Antigen test
- Results in 15 minutes
- Health Canada approved

  • $299.99 for 25-pack
  • Free shipping over $99.99

Buy now

BTNX Rapid Test

BTNX Rapid Test

IN STOCK
Delivery: 1-5 days

- Antigen test
- Results in 15 minutes
- Health Canada approved

  • $70 for 5-pack
  • Delivery in 1-5 business days

Buy now

Boson Rapid SARS CoV-2 Antigen Test

Boson Rapid SARS CoV-2 Antigen Test

IN STOCK
Delivery: 1-5 days

- Antigen test
- Results in 15-20 minutes
- Health Canada approved

  • $20 for 20-pack
  • Delivery in 1-5 business days

Buy now

Artron Test

Artron Test

IN STOCK
Delivery: 1-5 days

- Antigen test
- Results in 15-20 minutes
- Health Canada approved

  • $275 for 25-pack
  • Delivery in 1-5 business days

Buy now

SD Biosensor Rapid Test

SD Biosensor Rapid Test

IN STOCK
Delivery: 1-5 days

- Antigen test
- Results in 15-30 minutes
- Health Canada approved

  • $350 for 25-pack
  • Delivery in 1-5 business days

Buy now

Antigen At-Home Tele-Test Service

Antigen At-Home Tele-Test Service

IN STOCK
Delivery: 1-5 days

- Antigen test
- Administered by health professional via video call
- Results within 1 hour
- Approved for travel to some countries

  • $40 for 1-pack
  • Delivery in 1-5 business days

Buy now

You can get a COVID-19 test at a number of different places in Canada. These include provincial COVID-19 test sites, private labs, doctor’s offices and pharmacies. You may also be able to test for COVID-19 at work or school if your institution has proper authorization to administer rapid COVID-19 tests.

The place you choose to use to test for COVID-19 will depend on factors such as what type of test you want, how quickly you need the results and how long you’re willing to wait for an appointment. You may also choose to administer a test at home with a self-testing kit.

At a glance: Examples of where to get a COVID test in Canada

Where can I get tested?How it worksSample providerType of test usedTime to process results
COVID-19 test sitesYou get swabbed on site and your samples are sent off to a lab for COVID-19 testing.Pop-up sites operated by your provinceMolecular or nucleic acid-based testing (PCR tests)1-2 days
Private labsYou get swabbed or give blood on site and your samples are sent off to a lab for testing.LifeLabs, Dynacare or Switch HealthNucleic acid-based testing (PCR tests) or serology-based testing1-2 days
Doctor’s office or pharmacyYou get tested for COVID-19 at your doctor’s office or pharmacy and they will give you the results within the hour.Shoppers Drug Mart COVID-19 testing or at your local doctor’s officeAntigen-based testing (rapid COVID-19 test)Usually under an hour
Rapid COVID-19 test sites for school or workYou get tested for COVID-19 at businesses, schools and organizations that have been authorized to administer tests.Authorized schools or workplaces that have requested rapid testing suppliesAntigen-based testing (rapid COVID-19 test)Usually under an hour
Self-administered testYou test yourself at home without the supervision of a healthcare professional.Self-testing kits can be purchased online or through a drug storeAntigen-based testing (rapid COVID-19 test)Varies

Types of COVID tests

There are 3 main types of COVID tests that you can use to determine the current or past presence of COVID-19 (also known as SARS-CoV-2). These include the following:

Nucleic acid-based testing (PCR tests)

Molecular or nucleic acid-based tests (also known as PCR tests) are the most accurate way to test for COVID-19 and are usually carried out by specialized laboratories.

  • How it works. It detects the presence of SARS-CoV-2 genetic material (RNA) in respiratory samples to determine if COVID-19 is present.
  • What it tests. It tests for a current COVID-19 infection (usually within 1-2 days).
  • How samples are collected. Samples are collected through a nose, throat or oral swab.
  • How long it takes. It usually takes 1-2 days to process the results.

Antigen-based testing (rapid tests)

Antigen tests are rapid COVID tests that produce quick results when you test for COVID-19 at doctor’s offices, pharmacies or in workplace/academic settings.

  • How it works. Samples are placed in an extraction buffer or reagent and tested for the presence of SARS-CoV-2-specific virus proteins (also called antigens).
  • What it tests. It tests for a current COVID-19 infection (usually within 15 minutes).
  • How samples are collected. Samples are collected through a nose, throat or oral swab.
  • How long it takes. It usually takes 15 minutes to an hour to process the results.

Types of COVID tests: Nucleic acid-based (PCR) testing, Antigen-based (rapid) testing and Serology-based (antibody) testing.

How much does a COVID test cost?

The cost to test for COVID-19 will usually vary based on why you need the test done.

  • Tests for people with COVID symptoms are free. These tests are performed to see if you need to self-isolate, and they are typically carried out at a doctor’s office, private lab or COVID-19 test site set up by your province.
  • Tests for close contact with a COVID-19 case are free. These tests are for people who have been in close contact with COVID-19 cases. They aim to identify asymptomatic COVID-19 cases before the infection can spread. They are often carried out at doctor’s offices, private labs or COVID-19 test sites.
  • Tests for employees or students are free. These tests are usually administered by large institutions to help identify cases quickly to limit spread. Your institution will notify you if regular testing is a condition of being present at your workplace or campus.
  • COVID-19 tests for travel cost $40 to $200 on average. These tests are usually administered by private labs or pharmacies (for example, Shoppers Drug Mart COVID-19 testing). You can also self-administer a COVID-19 test for international travel though your results may not be admissible without validation from a medical professional.

    COVID self-testing kits in Canada

    COVID-19 self-testing kits are usually antigen-based testing kits that can be used at home. With most providers, you simply purchase a kit and set an appointment with a health specialist to collect your sample. You then send the sample to the company so that it can be processed.

    You may also be able to test for COVID-19 at home if you’re able to process your samples yourself. However, these tests may give false positive or negative results, which means the results are often not eligible if you need them for travel purposes.

    Where to buy Covid-19 home tests

    Where to buy COVID home testing kits in Canada

    1 - 2 of 2
    Name Product Price From Test Type Results Timeframe (Mins) Stock Availability Benefits
    Boson Rapid COVID 19 Antigen Test
    Boson Rapid COVID 19 Antigen Test
    $129.99 (20-pack)
    Antigen
    15-20
    IN STOCK
    Delivery: 3-7 days
    BTNX Rapid Test
    $70.00 (5-pack)
    Antigen
    15
    IN STOCK
    Delivery: 1-5 days
    loading

    Compare up to 4 providers

    Examples of COVID self-testing kits in Canada

    There are several different forms of COVID-19 tests you can order to do at home. Below are some examples of popular tests and retailers that sell them.

    Nucleic acid-based COVID-19 testing (PCR tests)

    TestRetailerPriceSpeed of resultsValid for travel
    Ichor COVID-19 PCR Saliva testRexall$199.991-2 days after sample is received at the labYes
    PCR Swab Test (RT-PCR)Santé Medic$199.99Within 24 hoursYes

    Antigen-based rapid COVID-19 tests

    TestRetailerPriceSpeed of resultsValid for travel
    Boson Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Test

    MyZone Health$199.99 (sale price)20 minutes or lessOnly approved by some countries
    Boson Rapid COVID 19 Antigen Test

    Buy now

    PPE Online$333.75 (sale price)20 minutes or lessOnly approved by some countries
    Panbio COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test

    Buy now

    PPE Online$500.63 (sale price)15 minutesOnly approved by some countries
    Antigen At-Home Service Tele-test

    Buy now

    Go Test Rapide$65.001 hourYes
    Rapid antigen testSanté Medic$99.00Within 15 minutesOnly approved by some countries
    BNTX rapid response antigen testRapid Test and Trace$13 per test + cost of appointmentWithin 3-5 daysOnly approved by some countries

    Antibody testing

    TestRetailerPriceSpeed of resultsValid for travel
    Antibody testSanté Medic$179.00Within 24 hoursNot applicable
    BNTX rapid response antibody testRapid Test and Trace$13 per test + cost of appointmentWithin 3-5 daysNot applicable

    Quick facts: COVID testing and vaccination requirements in Canada

    This table was last updated on March 17, 2022. Visit the Government of Canada website for the latest rules on COVID travel, testing and vaccinations.
    Question Answer
    Do I need a COVID test to enter Canada?
    • Both unvaccinated and fully vaccinated travellers must take a molecular (PCR) COVID test within 72 hours of entering Canada or a rapid antigen test within 1 day of entering Canada.
    • Starting April 1, fully vaccinated travelers do not need a pre-entry test.
    Do I need a COVID test to leave Canada?
    • Negative COVID test results are not acceptable. Proof of vaccination is required. Destination countries may require COVID tests for entry.
    What types of COVID tests can I take for international travel?
    • Molecular tests (PCR, NAT, NAAT, RT-LAMP)
    • Rapid antigen tests administered or observed by a pharmacy, laboratory, healthcare entity or telehealth service (take-home tests without professional supervision are not approved)
    Are COVID home tests available in Canada?
    • Yes. A number of retailers sell molecular (PCR) and rapid antigen COVID tests that can be taken from home. Note that PCR tests and rapid antigen tests for international travel may need to be administered under the remote (virtual) supervision of a medical professional.
    Do children need to take COVID tests to travel?
    • Children under 5 years old do not need to take a COVID test (pre-entry, arrival or Day-8).
    • Those who are 5+ years of age (on the day they travel) must follow COVID testing rules for travellers.
    What if I can't supply COVID-19 test results at the airport?
    • Canadian citizens or permanent residents. You won't be denied entry, but you may face a fine, criminal charges or other penalties. If you have COVID symptoms, you have to quarantine.
    • Others. You won't be allowed to enter Canada.
    Do I have to quarantine after entering Canada?
    • Fully vaccinated travellers do not need to quarantine. Your eligibility for exemption will be determined at the border based on information you provide. A Day-8 test is not required.
    • All others must quarantine for 14 days. A test will be provided for incoming travellers to take on day 8 of quarantine.
    Do I need to be vaccinated to travel?
    • Yes. Canadian authorities require proof of vaccination to board flights and trains for both domestic and international travel. Note that destination countries may have different rules for inbound travellers.
    Which COVID vaccinations are approved in Canada?
    • Moderna (Spikevax), mRNA vaccine
    • Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty), mRNA vaccine
    • AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria), viral vector-based vaccine
    • Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), viral vector-based vaccine
    • Nuvaxovid (Novavax) protein-based vaccine
    • Covifenz (Medicago) plant based virus-like particle
    How do I submit my COVID testing and vaccination info for travel?
    • All travellers must use the free ArriveCAN app to submit contact info, travel details, vaccination status, test results and quarantine plans to the Canadian authorities.
    Interactive map: COVID-19 testing and quarantine procedures for various countries

    Frequently asked questions

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