Doing Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) at home

Doing Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) at home10 Mar 2022

Free Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) are now available to all kiwis, who are symptomatic or household contacts, for home testing.

But it’s important to note that RATs can show negative even when you’re feeling symptoms. And that’s why it’s important to test at the right time. Unlike a PCR test, which can pick up the virus at lower levels, a RAT may give you negative results for the first 1 – 3 days.

In this period, you may feel quite unwell – but the virus may not have reached a level where you’re infectious and testing positive yet.

This is particularly true for vaccinated people whose immunity is helping supress the virus. In unvaccinated people the virus will grow faster and they may test positive sooner.

If you need to take a RAT test at home please make sure you don’t test too quickly after exposure (testing is recommended at day 3 and day 7 for household contacts) and ensure that you swab properly in accordance with the manufacturers instructions.

The swab should be inserted backwards (not upwards) into the nostril 2 – 4cms. The swab should remain in the nostril for 15 seconds being carefully swirled, making good contact, before being repeated on the other side.

A positive RAT result no longer needs to be confirmed by a PCR test. If you test positive on your RAT, please log it here:

Once you have tested positive you do not need to do another test – simply wait out the 7-day isolation period (isolation reduced from 10 to 7 days from 12 March onwards).

Critical workers, under the Close Contact Exemption Scheme, may travel between there place of isolation and work (but nowhere else) when they’re a household contact. For more information on this exemption visit:

To obtain a RAT go to your local community testing centre or visit the Ministry of Health’s new RAT requester website:

If you are purchasing RATs from your local retailer, or elsewhere, please just ensure that it’s one of the 11 types that are approved for use in New Zealand. For more info visit: