At this point in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, rapid at-home antigen tests are one of the most important tools at our disposal in stopping the spread of the virus. And although it’s been less than a year since these tests were scarce and expensive, they’ve now become a fixture in most of our medicine cabinets.
Earlier we discussed how to order these tests free from the US government, as well how to store them properly so you don’t inadvertently make them less effective. Now it’s time to talk about their expiration dates – more specifically, that those printed on the boxes of home covid tests may no longer be accurate. Here’s what you should know.
When do home covid tests expire?
As you may have noticed, there is an expiration date printed on the box of every FDA-approved home COVID test (or on a sticker that is on the box). The exact location different from brand to brand.
Currently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved 22 rapid antigen COVID-19 tests for home use (the You can find a complete list on their website, in alphabetical order). Along with information about the manufacturer, type of test and who is authorized to use it, the FDA also lists the length of the shelf life – which, depending on the test, is anywhere from four to 18 months.
How to check the expiry date of your COVID test at home
Initially, most expiration dates were based on the tests having an estimated shelf life of four to six months. But now that the tests have been around longer, the FDA’s ongoing research shows that many remain accurate and effective beyond their original expiration date.
As of today, the FDA has extended the expiration dates on 12 of their 22 approved self-tests. To find the most up-to-date expiration dates for the ones you have at home, see this table on the FDA website. The column on the far right gives information about the shelf life of the test – including whether it has been extended, and for how long.
If yours is among those with an extended shelf life, click the link below to look up the new expiration date using your test’s lot number. (Here is an example how it looks.)
If the FDA chart does not indicate that the expiration dates on your tests have been extended, continue use them as directed.