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Are Your COVID Tests Really Expired? Find Out Here

It's possible your COVID-19 test kits have had their shelf life extended by the Food and Drug Administration.

katie-conner
katie-conner
Katie Teague Writer II
Katie is a writer covering all things how-to at CNET, with a focus on Social Security and notable events. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.
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Katie Teague
3 min read
COVID-19 at home rapid test kit

The FDA has extended the shelf life for some COVID-19 tests.

Sarah Tew/CNET

COVID-19 cases still aren't slowing down, which could mean you're looking through your stash of at-home COVID-19 test kits to see if they're still OK to use. We've got good news. Even if your box shows they're no longer good, it's possible the shelf life has been extended (see below). 

If you find they have expired, you can now order more free COVID-19 tests through USPS. For instance, the box of iHealth test kits I had said to use by July 2022 and it had not been extended any further so I tossed it.

Below, you can check the at-home COVID-19 tests listed on the US Food and Drug Administration's website to see which brands have had their shelf lives extended.  

What do COVID-19 test expiration dates 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 that shelf life could be extended if the manufacturer finds more data that shows the tests are still accurate past the expiration date. 

Can I use a COVID test kit after it expires?

Unless the FDA has extended the shelf life of your box of COVID-19 tests, it's not recommended you use them after they've expired. Here's why: The COVID-19 test parts could degrade or break down over time, leading to inaccurate or invalid test results.

See below to find out if your box of COVID-19 tests is still OK to use, as it's possible the expiration date has been extended.

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

If the manufacturer finds that 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.

For the latest information on the expiration dates for your COVID-19 test kits, be sure to check the FDA's At-Home OTC COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests webpage.

On that page, the FDA page lists COVID-19 tests alphabetically, or you can use a search box to find your test directly. In the far right column of a table, the FDA lists the shelf life for each test and whether it's been extended. If the expiration date has been extended, an additional link is sometimes provided info on exact expiration dates for specific test lots. 

The links below include lot numbers and expiration dates for the brands of at-home COVID-19 tests that have had their expiration dates extended by the FDA. You can find the lot number for your at-home COVID test on its box, usually on a sticker with its expiration date.

If you don't see anything on the FDA page, you can also check the manufacturer to see if they've posted a letter from the FDA that their tests have been extended.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.