COVID-19 Testing

*You can now access your COVID test results online HERE

I need a test for
travel purposes

Visit a pop-up
rapid testing site

Visit a COVID-19 testing site
(PCR testing)

I received a self-swab kit at the airport, now what?

Travelers coming into Nova Scotia at either the Halifax or Sydney Airport will now receive a COVID-19 self-swab test kit. Travelers will be provided with a kit and instructions to complete their test at home.

There are two types of self-swab tests:

  1. A rapid test given to travelers who are fully vaccinated. These individuals are not required to isolate or get tested, although testing is recommended.
  2. A self-swab PCR test that you do at home and drop off to the nearest COVID-19 testing centre or Public Health Mobile Unit.

Click here for instructions on how to take the swab. (En Francais)

Reminder: The swab must be completed within 48 hours of arriving in the province and can be dropped off at a COVID-19 testing centre. *Please ensure the COVID-19 testing centre is open before you go to drop off your swab.

There is also a pilot project taking place at the Halifax Convention Centre where those who wish to participate are given a rapid self-swab test kit to take home. These are given to asymptomatic individuals who have had no known exposure to COVID-19 or are required to be tested for travel. *Rapid antigen testing is not a valid result for the testing requirements for those who are symptomatic, travelled, or asked by Public Health to be tested. A PCR test is required. We anticipate this pilot project will lead to a larger COVID-19 testing strategy.

What do I need to know about self-isolation?

Directions for self-isolation may vary slightly for each person, based on their personal situation.

Learn more about when you need to get tested and when you need to self isolate here.

Where do I find information about potential COVID-19 exposure locations?

Visit the potential COVID exposures website to find the latest updates about potential COVID-19 exposures in Nova Scotia.

What if I need help arranging transportation to my testing appointment?

If you have symptoms and are getting tested you can walk, drive or cycle to your testing appointment. Do not take the bus or ferry. 

In some cases Nova Scotia Health can arrange transportation for people who have no other means. If you need help with transportation, please call Nova Scotia Health at 1-844-996-0694 to book your appointment and to arrange transportation. This will allow enhanced cleaning procedures to be put in place by the transportation provider.

How do I prepare my child for a gargle test?


Children or youth between the ages of 4 and 18 years old may be able to have the gargle test if able to:
  • swish salty water in the mouth for 5 seconds, then
  • gargle with the salty water for 5 seconds, and repeat both steps 2 more times (total time of 30 seconds), then
  • spit the salty water into a container
There are steps they need to complete BEFORE having the test. 
Children or youth must not: eat, drink, chew gum, brush teeth, smoke or vape for at least one hour before the test. 
Younger children do best when they practice the steps at home with water; just make sure if you do choose to have your child practice that it is done at least two hours before the test. 
For detailed preparation instructions, please view the gargle instruction sheet (PDF) 
It is extremely important that children and youth who are using the gargle testing method follow these guidelines, as failure to do so will require them to have their COVID-19 test via swab collection. 
During the procedure, the child and youth must wear their mask while swishing and gargling.
Note that if a child or youth does have difficulty completing the gargle test, the test cannot be repeated that day – they would have to be tested via swab collection or rebooked for a gargle test at a later date.

What will happen when I get my standard COVID-19 test?

Thanks for doing your part to keep yourself and your fellow Nova Scotians safe and healthy.
There are a few different types of COVID-19 tests in Nova Scotia: standard PCR* tests, gargle tests and rapid tests. The standard PCR test is the most accurate of these three types of tests. Here’s what you can expect if you have booked a PCR test.
  • If you have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19, you can walk, drive, cycle or take a taxi to your testing appointment. Do not take the bus or ferry. If you are booked for an asymptomatic test, you are welcome to take public transit if you wish.
  • It is recommended that only the person receiving the COVID-19 test should be in the testing site.
  • Children and youth (under 19 years old) who are being tested may have one support person.
  • Pets are not allowed in in any testing site (including drive-through locations). Service dogs are permitted.  
  • Arrive for your booked appointment no more than five minutes early.
  • If you have a provincial health card, student ID or military ID, have it ready.
  • At all locations (except drive-through locations) you’ll be asked to sanitize your hands when you enter. You’ll also be given a medical mask to wear in place of your non-medical mask.
  • A team member will then tell you what to do next.
  • The team member at registration will ask you to confirm your full name, birth date, health card or other ID number, email (if you have one) and phone number. It is important your phone number and email are correct as this will be how you will be reached for your results. Currently, results are only available by email for those with a valid Nova Scotia health card.
  • They will then provide directions about what happens next.
Swab Testing
  • When it’s your turn to be tested, you’ll be asked to sanitize your hands again.
  • The nurse will ask you a few basic questions and will then explain what they are about to do.
  • You’ll be asked to slide your mask under your nose, keeping your mouth covered. 
  • The nurse will ask you to turn toward them and tip your head back slightly. 
  • They will insert the swab into one side of your nose and tell you to take a breath.
  • You will feel slight discomfort as the nurse counts for between five to 10 seconds. The nurse will then remove the swab.
  • Your eye may water a bit at first. Your nostril may be sensitive for a few seconds and you may sneeze or cough.
  • That’s it! You’re finished. Staff will direct you to exit the building (or the drive-through).
Gargle Testing for Children
  • Children between the ages of 4 and 18 may be offered a gargle test. There are steps they need to complete BEFORE having the test. For detailed preparation instructions, please view the gargle instruction sheet (PDF). If for any reason a gargle test isn't suitable for someone, a swab will be provided. Testing centre staff will help advise.
  • A nose swab will be used for infants and young children (under 4 years old) or when a child/youth cannot swish and gargle. 
*PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction – this type of test looks for trace amounts of the COVID-19 virus to identify positive cases

What happens after my COVID-19 test?

For people with symptoms only: Once you have completed your COVID-19 test, you must self-isolate until you have received your result. 

Learn more about when you need to get tested and when you need to self-isolate here.

For instructions on how to self-isolate please see   

How do I receive my results?

When individuals come for their testing appointment at a COVID-19 testing centre or mobile testing unit, they will be asked at registration for their email and/or phone number, as well as a health card or student identification number.

You’ll be able to receive your results in four ways:

  1. E-mail auto-notifications require the person to have a valid provincial health card and provide an email address.
  2. Auto-call notifications can be provided to those with any valid provincial health card or a student identification number.
  3. Check your test results online with any valid provincial health card or student identification number. 
  4. Phone call from Public Health or their partners at Service Nova Scotia for those who do not have a health card or student identification. 

In most cases, people will receive their test result within 48 to 72 hours.

Canadians who have been tested should have their provincial health card number or student identification number ready. They will be asked to enter the last four digits to receive their result. Those with an Ontario health card should enter the last four numbers that appear before the letters on their card.

Email results may be received 24 hours a day. Please check your “Junk” and “Other Inbox” folders for your negative test results. Look for an email from

Auto-calls may occur daily between noon and 5 p.m. It’s important that people keep their phones with them and on if they are expecting a test result. The caller ID may indicate unknown name, unknown number; please answer those calls.

If you do not have a Canadian provincial health card, student ID or special registration number (provided to rotational workers and some others), your results will be forwarded to a call list for our calling team and you will receive a phone call with your verbal results approximately 48 hours after your test. This includes anyone who is in the military or from outside of Canada.

If you have been waiting for COVID-19 test results for more than 48 to 72 hours, you can call Public Health at 1-844-996-0694 and leave a voicemail to inquire about your test results.

Receiving a phone call does not automatically mean your test result is positive.

Public Health will directly contact those who test positive and will provide additional direction.

Learn more about Getting Your Test Results:

Learn more