Coronavirus: Tests

Testing is important when it comes to providing healthcare and protecting vulnerable people. Read here who should get tested and where this is possible.

Please note: Implementation of testing is the responsibility of the cantons, so may vary.

Should you get tested if you have symptoms or after close contact with someone who has tested positive?

  People at especially high risk or close and regular contact with people at especially high risk (at work, carers, household members) People not at especially high risk
Have you got symptoms?

You should get tested (preferably with a PCR test).

If the test is positive, consider contacting a medical professional.

You can still get tested if you wish.
Have you had contact with a confirmed case?

You should get tested.

If the test is positive, consider contacting a medical professional. 

You can still get tested if you wish.

Note: You can get a COVID certificate if your COVID infection was confirmed with a positive PCR test or a nasopharyngeal rapid antigen test. A certificate of this sort can be important, for example, for travel abroad.

Are you not sure whether to have a coronavirus test or how to do it? Then open the graphic below.

What to do if the test is positive

In the case of a positive individual PCR test and positive confirmatory test result

  • Consult the information on the page Protect yourself and others.
    • Note: You will receive a COVID recovery certificate. The certificate is valid from the 11th day after the positive PCR test result and remains valid for 180 days from the date on which the sample was taken.

 In the case of a positive rapid antigen test

  • Consult the information about this on the page Protect yourself and others.
    • A PCR confirmatory diagnosis following a positive rapid antigen test is possible, but not necessary.
    • Note: You will receive a COVID recovery certificate. The certificate is valid from the 11th day after the positive nasopharyngeal rapid antigen test result and remains valid for 180 days from the date on which the sample was taken.

In the case of a positive pooled PCR test or positive self-test

  • Positive pooled tests and positive self-tests should continue to be confirmed with an individual PCR test. People at especially high risk are advised to get an individual PCR test.

What to do if the test is negative

At the time of testing you were most probably not infected with coronavirus. However, a negative test result does not rule out infection with the coronavirus. It is still possible that you are infected and contagious. You can continue to follow the basic principles on the Protect yourself and others site.

For all listed test types: Please talk to your doctor if you tested negative and:

  • your symptoms worsen or you develop additional ones.
  • your symptoms persist for more than 2 days after testing.
  • you find out that you came into contact with someone who later tested positive in the 14 days before your symptoms started.

Issue of COVID test certificates after negative test result

PCR test: If the test result is negative you will receive a COVID test certificate valid for 72 hours after the sample was taken.

Nasopharyngeal rapid antigen test: If the test result is negative you will receive a COVID test certificate valid for 24 hours after the sample was taken.


What types of test are available?

The range of different tests and their availability is evolving constantly. Below you will find an overview of the different types of test.

Individual PCR test

A positive individual PCR test indicates that you are infected with the coronavirus. PCR tests can be performed by means of a combined nose and throat swab, a throat swab or a saliva sample. The result is generally available within 12 to 24 hours. The swab is performed by your doctor or at a hospital or test centre. The sample is then analysed in a licensed laboratory.

Pooled PCR test

In a pooled PCR test, the saliva samples of several people are combined in one pooled sample. The laboratory performs their analysis on this pooled sample. If the result of the pooled sample is positive, individual samples subsequently have to be analysed to identify which person is infected. For this purpose an individual PCR test will be performed.

Rapid antigen test for professional use

Rapid antigen tests yield a result within 15 to 20 minutes. Like PCR tests, they determine whether you are infected with coronavirus. The test is performed by means of a nose and throat swab. It cannot be performed on a saliva sample.

Antigen self-test

You can test yourself for coronavirus by using an antigen self-test. You take the sample yourself with a nose swab, and can read the result yourself. The result of the test is available within 15 to 20 minutes. Follow the enclosed instructions on how to carry out a self-test. Self-tests can determine whether you are contagious at the time of the test.

Caution: Self-tests provide a less reliable result than PCR tests or rapid antigen tests. So it is possible that even if the test result is negative, you may be infected with the coronavirus and can pass it on to others. You can therefore continue to follow the basic principles on the Protect yourself and others site.

The video below shows how a self-test is used. This is an example with one type of test. Please always follow the instructions for the specific test brand you are using.

Serological test

Serological tests detect certain antibodies in the blood, in this case those produced to tackle the coronavirus. The presence of a person’s own antibodies indicates that they have already been in contact with the virus or have been vaccinated. Serological tests are very useful for studies of the population, for example to observe the evolution of population immunity.
An antibody test that is currently positive indicates that the person has recovered and/or has antibodies. It does not, however, give any indication as to how long ago the infection took place.

Since 17 February 2022 Swiss COVID recovery certificates have no longer been issued on the basis of a positive antibody test.

At present, it is not possible to say anything about how immune protection will develop over time from the results of an antigen test.

Who covers the costs of tests?

The federal government will cover the costs as follows:

Individual PCR tests

The federal government covers the costs of individual PCR tests in the following cases:

  • You are being tested because you have symptoms.
  • You have been in close contact with a confirmed case.
  • You have been instructed by a cantonal authority or a doctor to have a test.

The federal government does not cover the costs of individual PCR tests required to obtain a COVID test certificate (which may be necessary to travel abroad).

Rapid antigen tests

The federal government covers the costs of rapid antigen tests with a nose and throat swab for everyone.

Pooled PCR test

The federal government covers the costs of pooled PCR test for everyone.

Antibody tests

You must generally pay for antibody tests yourself.

Exceptions: The costs of an antibody test performed as part of an examination by a specialist doctor on medical prescription will be covered a) for people where monoclonal antibody therapy is indicated and b) for seriously immune-suppressed people four weeks after initial immunisation (in accordance with the current vaccination recommendations drawn up by the FOPH and the Federal Vaccination Commission (EKIF)). The costs will likewise be covered if the competent cantonal authority orders a test for antibodies.

Antigen self-tests

The federal government does not cover the costs of antigen self-tests. This means that you will have to cover the costs yourself, regardless of whether you have recovered from COVID-19 or have been vaccinated. Self-testing kits can be purchased at pharmacies, drugstores and some retail outlets.


Where you can get tested

You can get tested for coronavirus at various doctors, test centres, hospitals and pharmacies.
The cantons are responsible for assuring access to tests. For this reason, you will find information on the various testing facilities on the relevant cantonal websites:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Further information

Protect yourself and others

What to do in case of symptoms or positive test result?
Basic principles: Get vaccinated, wear a face mask, ventilate several times a day, cough and sneeze into a tissue or crook of your arm, wash your hands

Disease, symptoms, treatment

Information on Covid-19, the symptoms and the range of illness severity as well as the origin of the coronavirus

Last modification 03.10.2022

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Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Infoline Coronavirus
Tel. +41 58 463 00 00

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