COVID-19 testing for priority groups

These groups have increased access to free COVID-19 testing under the public health response.

Last updated: 18 October 2022

Testing information in other languages

Priority Populations and Community Providers

Organisations which support our priority populations have been provided with free RATs.

The impacts of COVID-19 are felt differently across New Zealand communities. Māori and Pacific communities, those living with disabilities, and those in lower socio-economic groups and crowded or institutional settings bear a greater portion of both health and economic impacts and risks. 

These people have experienced adverse impacts and are considered at higher risk of the effects from COVID-19 outbreaks in New Zealand. They experience poorer outcomes, higher death rates and increased health, economic and social inequities. 

A network of over 400 community providers have been a critical part of responding to COVID-19 outbreaks. They have demonstrated that they are essential in delivering local and regional approaches that reach priority populations in New Zealand.

A list of community providers doing supervised RATs is available on Healthpoint.

See also:

Testing if you have a disability

Disability sector providers are being supplied with RATs to distribute through their networks.  

Community providers have been supplied with RATs to help you if you are unable to leave their home get access to them. 

Another option is to contact your GP, who will know you and your needs, If your GP can’t provide a test, they will be able to tell you who can.

Information and advice for the deaf community

The NZ Relay Service and the Video Interpreting Service can be used to contact the Healthline COVID-19 telephone service - 0800 348 5453.

You can also check Healthpoint for testing advice.

More information about testing in alternative formats:

The COVID Healthcare and Emergency Service Workforce

Other organisations that support our priority populations and have been provided with free RATs are the healthcare and emergency service workforce, including people who work in the health sector, GPs, pharmacies, Police, Corrections, first responders, and Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

Also included are high density vulnerable population providers, such as aged residential care facilities, hospice and other residential healthcare facilities, and youth justice facilities.

If you work for one of these organisations and need a test to go to work, you will be given RATs by your employer. 

How to order and get free RATs

You can request RATs:

  • on the Request a COVID-19 testing kit website. Follow the step by step instructions for how to order your RATs. To use the website, you will need to have access to a mobile phone to validate your RAT order. You can also request RATs for someone else.
  • by phone. Ring 0800 222 478 and choose option 3.

You will be issued an order number. You can then pick up your RAT order from a collection site or have someone collect your order for you (make sure they have your order number).

Targeted Rural Service

Almost 95 percent of households live within a 20-minute drive from a published RATs collection site. There are also local RAT access points to meet the needs of various populations.

An additional service has been set up to further support the remaining five percent of households that are outside a 20-minute drive from a RATs collection site.

These largely rural households can contact 0800 222 478 to confirm their eligibility.

If eligible for a home delivery, a local provider will work with the household to supply RATs from the public health response through community providers, or via local rural delivery networks.

International arrivals

Please visit the COVID-19 Travellers’ page to find out more about testing for COVID-19 as a recent arrival.

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