Take a Covid-19 test
What is it?
Are you sick and not sure if you have Covid-19? It is recommanded to do a test!
The Covid-19 screening test is for everyone who:
- have been in contact with a person sick with Covid-19 (“case-contact”);
- have symptoms of the disease (the most common are: fever, cough, fatigue, loss of smell and/or taste, sore throat, headache, body aches, diarrhea, etc.);
- wish to travel to certain countries that require a negative test;
- have the obligation to be tested for hospitalization or an operation, for example.
Good to know: The tests are carried out by “nasopharyngeal route” (it goes through the nose) or in some cases “salivary” (in the mouth).
There are several types of screening tests:
- the antigenic test,
- the PCR test.
A Covid test allows you to be granted a health pass to enter certain public places, in the following cases:
- positive Covid antigenic or PCR test realized more than 11 days and less than 6 months from the date of the test
- negative Covid antigenic or PCR test dated less than 24 hours old
>> To read also: the Refugees.info sheet "Getting your health pass"
Good to know: Warning: if you have serious symptoms (shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, pain in the chest), do not try to take a test! You must immediately call the emergency services (call 15).
Who is it for?
What to do?
Choose the type of test you want to use
Option 1: self-test
The nasal self-test can be purchased in pharmacies (between €3 and €5 on average - the maximum price was €3.35 for adults and €4.10 for children in March 2022). It is not reimbursed by Social Security except in a few special cases.
It is simple and quick to use, but less reliable than other types of tests. The result is available within 15 minutes. The self-test is just a “personal” check. It does grant you clearance to a positive or negative test certificate.
If you are a confirmed contact case or have symptoms, it is best to perform an antigen test or a PCR test.
Option 2: the antigen test
The nasopharyngeal antigen test (in the nose) is carried out by a healthcare professional (pharmacist, doctor, nurse, dentist, etc.) in a practice, a collection centre, a pharmacy, an analysis laboratory or at home. Results are available within 15 minutes. It is covered by health insurance for:
- people who have completed vaccination scheme or with a recovery certificate less than 6 months old or with a contraindication to vaccination,
Other special cases apply for reimbursement and these rules may change: consult the Health Insurance website.
If you are not entitled to health insurance cover, you will have to pay €20 (price in March 2022).
Option 3: the PCR test
The nasopharyngeal PCR test is also performed by a healthcare professional. Results are available within 24 hours. The PCR test is the only one that can determine the Covid variant (Delta, Omicron, etc.) if you are positive.
The treatment rules are identical to those for antigenic tests. If you are not entitled to health insurance coverage, you will have to pay around 40 euros (€43.89 in March 2022).
The salivary PCR test is carried out by a healthcare professional and is recommended when it is difficult or impossible to take a nasopharyngeal sample: for example for very young children. The management rules are identical to those for antigen tests and nasopharyngeal PCR tests. If you are not entitled to health insurance coverage, you will have to pay around 40 euros (€40.05 in March 2022).
Good to know: The PCR test is more reliable than the antigen test, which itself is more reliable than the self-test.
Take the test
To do a self-test: go to a pharmacy, buy a test and perform the test yourself at home. The self-tests include a manual, translated into several languages, with drawings allowing you to fully understand the steps.
To perform an antigen test or a nasopharyngeal or salivary PCR test, you have several alternatives:
> go to a nearby screening center. The list of screening centers is available on Sante.fr. Pay attention to the fact that it is requires for certain centers to contact them before going there.
> make an appointment with a healthcare professional: pharmacy, doctor, etc. You can make an appointment by telephone or on the Internet (on pharmacy website or via the Doctolib platform, for example).
If you have any doubt, do not hesitate to call a doctor or a pharmacy near you, to help you in the process.
On the day of the test, come with a mask and your Vitale card or your health insurance rights certificate. If you are in a situation where the test is reimbursed, you will not have to pay anything.
Good to know: If you are having a child tested, inform the healthcare professional before making an appointment so that a suitable test can be applied.
View your test result
Option 1: after a self-test
- if the test result is negative, stay cautious if you have symptoms. If you have a doubt, proceed to retest a few days later.
- if the test result is positive, proceed to an antigen or PCR test to confirm the result and get a test certificate. Isolate yourself from loved ones and inform your employer if you are working.
Option 2: after an antigen test or a PCR test
The healthcare professional will give you a negative or positive test certificate with a QR code:
- in paper, directly on site (this is the method to choose if you do not have a mobile number, email or internet access)
- to download on the SIDEP site. You will receive an SMS and an email to let you know that your results are available and that you can download them. You will then have to provide your details, validate with a code received by SMS and finally you can download your certificate in a PDF format.
In the event of a negative result, remain cautious depending on the evolution of your possible symptoms.
If the test is positive, see next step below.
In case of positive test
In the event of a positive result,
Follow the advice of the healthcare professional (possibly call a doctor or pharmacist, or make an appointment if your symptoms concern you)
- 5 days if you are vaccinated
- 7 days if you are not vaccinated. These isolation times may change over time: follow the advice of health professionals.
In any case, for any positive test, you will receive instructions from the Health Insurance by SMS or by telephone.
Tell people you have been in contact with
- in the last 48 hours before the onset of symptoms if you have any,
- within 7 days before the test if you have no symptoms.
Inform your employer if you are employed.
And above all, rest!
For work, if you have a positive test certificate, there are 2 solutions:
- If you can telework (this means that you don't feel too sick) your employer willascribe you a minimum duration of telework (usually 1 week)
- If you cannot telework (this means that your work is not possible in telework or that you feel too sick to work): you can request a derogatory sick leave on the site https://declare.ameli. en/case-contact/conditions