A self-test is a coronavirus test that you can carry out yourself at home, to reassure yourself that you are not infected before going to school or work. Self-tests are not a substitute for testing by the municipal health service GGD if you have symptoms. And they cannot be used as pre-admission tests.
Availability of self-tests
A self-test is a rapid antigen test that you can carry out yourself at home. There must be a CE logo on the packaging.
Sometimes the CE logo is followed by a 4-digit number. But most self-tests currently have a CE logo without a number. These rapid antigen tests have a temporary exemption so that they can be sold as a self-test. On this website you can find an overview of rapid antigen tests that have been granted a temporary exemption (in Dutch). A self-test sold in the Netherlands must always include instructions in Dutch and information on how to read the result.
More self-tests will be coming on the market with a CE logo followed by a 4-digit number. These have been assessed and approved by a professional regulatory body.
Using a self-test
A self-test is an antigen test that you can carry out yourself. You take a swab sample from your nose and test it yourself. Read the patient leaflet carefully before doing the test.
To listen to an easy-to-understand explanation about self-tests, go to the Steffie website (in Dutch).
Self-tests give slightly less reliable results than the tests used at test centres, which are administered by a professional. A self-test reduces the chance – but cannot rule out – that an asymptomatic infection is missed. For optimum reliability, the test must be performed correctly, so follow the instructions carefully. It’s also your responsibility to contact the municipal health service (GGD) if the self-test produces a positive result.
If your self-test produces a positive result you probably have coronavirus. You will need to do a number of things. First of all, you and anyone you live with must stay at home. You also need to make a test appointment with the GGD ofin order to have the result confirmed. Self-tests give less reliable results than the tests used at test centres, so there is a chance that your result is a false positive. If the GGD test result comes back negative, you and anyone you live with can go out again.
If your self-test produces a negative result you probably don’t have coronavirus. But a negative self-test result is less reliable than the result of a professionally administered test. . So it’s vital you continue to follow the basic rules, like keeping your distance, washing hands often and staying home if you have COVID-19 symptoms. You should also take extra care around people with underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable.
Self-test after vaccination
Even after you’ve been vaccinated, a self-test can still be useful. Vaccination reduces your chances of becoming seriously ill, but does not rule out your chance of becoming infected and transmitting the virus to others.
When not to use a self-test
The results of self tests are less accurate than the tests used by the municipal health service (GGD). Do not rely on a self-test if you:
- have COVID-19 symptoms
- have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus
- are quarantining.
In these cases, you need to make an appointment to get tested by the GGD. The GGD test is administered by professionals and the testing methods used are more accurate. This means the results are more reliable.
Self-tests cannot be used as pre-admission tests.
Self-tests can boost safety
Coronavirus can be present in the nasal passages of an infected person some days before symptoms develop. It is possible for the virus to be transmitted to others at this early stage. By testing yourself even if you don’t have any symptoms, you may be able to detect an infection that you would otherwise have discovered later or not at all. So, self-tests are an extra way to help stop coronavirus spreading. They can provide extra reassurance if you come into contact with others, for instance at school or if you work in a job that you cannot do from home. Or after you come back from your holiday.