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How to know if your home COVID-19 test is really expired

A person holds a swab above a test tube.

Nov. 28, 2022—The expiration date listed on the box of home COVID-19 tests may not be accurate any longer. That's because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended the expiration dates for some tests.

Here are answers to some common questions about test expiration dates.

Why are COVID-19 test expiration dates important?

Over time, COVID-19 tests and their components may degrade or break down. This could affect the test's accuracy and performance, according to FDA.

Why might a test's expiration date change?

A typical shelf-life for COVID-19 test kits is about four to six months. However, home COVID-19 tests are still fairly new and haven't been tested for longer periods of time. If a manufacturer can prove that a test is effective after a longer shelf life, it can ask FDA to authorize a later expiration date.

Unless FDA extends your test's expiration date, assume that the test isn't accurate after it expires.

How do I know if a test's expiration date has been extended?

Check the FDA website to find the updated expiration date of the brand you have at home. The lot number of the test will help you determine if the date has been extended. The lot number and expiration date are printed on the box. If you cannot find the extended expiration date of your test on the FDA website, stick with the expiration date on your test kit.

Get in touch with your healthcare provider or the manufacturer directly if you're unsure whether you should use an expired COVID-19 test.

Learn more about home testing

Expiration dates aren't the only thing you need to know about home testing for COVID-19. Read this helpful article to learn more.

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