With Covid cases on the rise in Cartagena, in Colombia, and around the world, more countries are implementing testing requirements for entry, most notably the United States. If you’re wondering where can I get a Covid test in Cartagena, Colombia, read on to see a list of Cartagena Covid testing locations.

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Photo of someone holding  a test tube that says covid test in Spanish, like what you might need if you're wondering where can I get a Covid test in Cartagena.
Read on to learn where can you get a Covid test in Cartagena, Colombia.

Where to Get Covid Test in Cartagena

With Coronavirus cases increasing in many parts of the world, including at least 3 strains that are thought to be more contagious, many countries are implementing testing requirements for entry. For that reason, this post will look at some of the testing requirements for English speaking countries as well as where you can get a coronavirus test in Cartagena.

*Speaking of those new strains, according to this article, cloth masks may not be as effective in stopping their spread, so you may want to consider getting some KN95s, FFP2s, or at least some medical grade masks, especially for use when traveling. Also, you can compare prices on the range of high quality PPE equipment at C2W Health.

It’s also more important than ever to have travel insurance when traveling in Colombia or elsewhere. World Nomads is a leader in international travel insurance. You can get a quote here or in the tool below. You can compare their prices with those from VisitorsCoverage here. You may also want to check out travel insurance from Expatgroup.co, who offer plans specifically tailored to travel in Colombia.

Of course, if you’re an expat living in Cartagena, this information may also be useful if you would like to get a test. Note that if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive or you have symptoms, you likely can be tested via your EPS insurance. The Covid testing locations in Cartagena below offer private testing, but may come in handy if you want to get a test outside of your insurance, like if you plan to travel or your EPS doesn’t think you need a test but you’d like peace of mind.

*Note: This information is intended for people who are in (or will be in) Colombia already and need to get a test for Covid in Cartagena when exiting Colombia to travel to another country. If you are planning a trip to Cartagena and want information on what you need to enter the country, see my article on the latest entry requirements for Colombia.

Also, please note, I will do my best to keep things up to date here, but I would suggest double checking to confirm all information. Situations are fluid, and country by country testing requirements may change, and where I have prices and turn around times listed below at places that have Covid testing in Cartagena are also subject to change.

*Still need to get your flights? Check out ticket prices on Colombia’s flagship airline Avianca, look for package deals at Expedia.com, Orbitz.com, or Trip.com, try to score a deal at CheapOair.com, or compare prices across airlines at SkyScanner.com and JetRadar.com. You may also be able to save on flights at Kiwi.com and travelers 25 and under can also score great deals at StudentUniverse.com.

Photo of a man at a window getting a nose swab for a Covid test.
The most reliable Covid tests are done via nasal swab. Below you can learn about different types of tests to help you determine what Covid test in Cartagena you should take.

Types of Coronavirus Tests

Perhaps before asking where can you get a Covid test in Cartagena, it is worth what type of Covid test you need. All the different types of tests are a bit confusing. I, for example, had just assumed antibody and antigen tests were the same thing (they are not) until someone pointed it out to me. With many countries requiring different types of tests, some interchangeably, and different prices and turn around times, below you’ll find a quick summary of the 4 main types of Coronavirus tests.

NAAT Tests (PCR and LAMP)

This stands for nucleic acid amplification test. For Coronavirus testing, there are two main types of NAAT tests being used, PCR and LAMP.

PCR is the most common form of this type of test and considered the highest standard test. The acronym stands for polymerase chain reaction. It checks for active virus via a nose swab. Results must be analyzed in a lab with different reactions and passing through several temperature changes. It usually will require at least a 24 hour turn around time to get results.

For what it’s worth, I’ve had to get this test, and well, it’s pretty of unpleasant. But it is also considered the most reliable and some countries may only accept it (for example, Colombia only accepts PCR tests for entry). If you’re looking for where to get a PCR covid test in Cartagena, you’ll see it noted in the list of Cartagena Covid testing locations below.

LAMP stands for loop-mediated isothermal amplification. I had not heard of this form of testing until reading up for researching this article and seeing it in the accepted forms for the UK and Canada. It also requires a nose swab and looks for active virus, but does not have to go through as many temperature changes as a PCR, does not have to be sent to a special lab, and results can be obtained more quickly. However, it is considered less reliable and more likely to give false positives or false negatives.

Some countries allow it alongside the PCR test, while some will only allow PCR. There is nowhere in Cartagena I have been able to find offering a LAMP test. If you’re curious, you can read more about the difference between PCR and LAMP tests here.

Photo of nasal swabs, like the ones you will likely get your Covid test in Cartagena done with.
Molecular Covid tests are the most reliable and offered by most places where you can get a Coronavirus test in Cartagena and use a nasal swab to take a sample to be checked for active virus. Image by Vesna Harni from Pixabay

Antigen Tests

Antigen tests also check for active virus are are commonly used for the flu and other respiratory illnesses. They have become more reliable over time during the course of the current pandemic. Results are also generally much quicker than the above molecular tests and many countries are allowing them in addition to PCR tests.

While not considered quite as sensitive as the above mentioned test, they are considered reliable for determining if someone has a high viral load that would likely make them contagious. Some countries may accept them for entry, while others may want the higher standard tests above.

If you’re wondering where to get an antigen Covid test in Cartagena, you’ll see it noted in the list of Coronavirus testing locations in Cartagena below. If you’re interested in learning more about antigen tests, you can in this article from the US CDC.

Antibody Tests

Antibody tests look for the presence of antibodies your immune system has made in reaction to a virus. That can take days or even weeks to form and show up in testing. They also do not confirm if there is active virus in your system. These tests, therefore, can be useful to know if you may have had the virus recently, but are not considered reliable for diagnosis. Most countries requiring a test for entry are likely to want the more strident tests listed above.

If you’re wondering where to get an antibody Covid test in Cartagena, you’ll see it noted in the list of Coronavirus testing locations in Cartagena below. You can read more about antibody tests here if you’re interested.

Photo of two cotton swabs, similar to the ones used at Cartagena Covid testing locations.
With the exception of the antibody test, which is not considered reliable for determining an active virus case, you will have to get a nasal swab for your Covid test in Cartagena.

Countries Requiring Tests for Entry

It’s also worth looking into what kind of test you need based on the country you plan to travel to. Some may require a specific test, while some may allow for different kinds of test. Time requirements also may vary from country to country, and it’s especially worth being sure if the time is based on your time of departure or your time of arrival.

Here is a short list of English speaking countries that I know have frequent travelers to Cartagena and their current testing requirements. As noted above, it’s worth double checking as these are subject to change. My last update is January 16. If anyone reading notices an inaccuracy or a change, I’d love it if you let me know in the comments to correct it!

United States

  • These rules go into effect January 26, 2021.
  • All persons aged 2 or older must present a negative test result for entry to the US.
  • If you have tested positive for the virus in the last 3 months, you may present proof of that positive test along with a letter from a doctor clearing you to travel safely in place of a negative test.
  • The test should be taken no more than 72 hours (3 days) before departure.
  • It should be an active viral test (PCR/NAAT or Antigen).
  • Airlines have been told not to allow people to board flights to the US without a negative test result. It’s not clear what would happen if someone is allowed to board and arrive without the test, presumably you would be detained, deported, and/or fined.
  • President Joe Biden signed an executive order ordering people arriving from abroad to follow CDC guidelines on quarantine in addition to negative test results. The CDC recommends at least 7 days isolation if you take a subsequent test upon arrival or 10 days if you do not take a test. The executive order does not specify, but you should plan to have to quarantine for at least a week upon arrival. Once the review and preparation period is over and the requirements go into full effect on the 26th, this will hopefully be clearer.
  • Source here

United Kingdom

  • These rules go into effect January 18, 2021.
  • All persons age 11 and older must show a negative test to enter the UK.
  • The test should be taken no more than 72 hours (3 days) before departure.
  • It should be an active viral test (PCR/LAMP/NAAT) or Antigen.
  • Upon arrival, you must self-isolate for 10 days (even with the negative test). Not completing the isolation can result in a fine of £10,000.
  • While airlines are meant to check and not allow you to board without proof of your test, not providing proof of your test upon arrival can result in a fine of £500 .
  • Source here
  • *It’s worth noting that the UK is not currently allowing any flights from Colombia or other Latin American countries announced on January 14. It is unclear how long the measure is meant to be in effect or if it is indefinite (source here).

Canada

  • These rules take effect on January 7, 2021.
  • All persons age 5 and older must show a negative test to enter Canada.
  • The test should be taken no more than 72 hours (3 days) before departure.
  • It should be an active viral test (PCR/LAMP/NAAT). Antigen tests are not accepted by Canada.
  • Source here

Australia

  • These rules take effect on January 8, 2021.
  • All persons age 12 and over must show a negative test to enter Australia.
  • The test must be taken no more than 72 hours (3 days) before departure.
  • It should be a PCR test. No other type of testing is allowed.
  • There may be other quarantine restrictions based on the Australian state you are entering.
  • Source here
Photo of a doctor holding a tube with a sample like what happens when your Cartagena covid test location sends your sample to a lab.
Make sure you plan to do your test at the Cartagena Covid testing locations below with plenty of time to get results back before you travel according to your country’s rules. Image by Shameer Pk from Pixabay

Where to Get a Coronavirus Test in Cartagena

Here, I will list Covid testing locations in Cartagena that I have been able to confirm offer testing either online or through word of mouth. This list should not be treated as exhaustive.

To the extent possible I will try to include information on types of tests offered, prices, and turnaround time. I would still encourage double checking. Anyone who knows of other places or notices any inaccuracies here, I’d again, love for you to let me know in the comments.

After a decade in Cartagena, I would also suggest taking any listed turn around times with a grain of salt and giving yourself some cushion time. For example, if the lab says 24 hours, I’d suggest getting your test at least 36 hours before you need it. Better safe than sorry.

Covid Testing Locations in Cartagena

HealthCars (*at Cartagena Airport)

  • Location: At Rafael Nuñez Airport and Barrio España (near Maria Auxiliadora Church)
    • They also offer at home testing
  • Tests Offered:
    • PCR: $350,000 pesos, results in 24-36 hours
    • Antigen: $140,000 pesos, results in 1 hour (or 2 if done at home)
    • Antibody: $110,000 pesos, results in 1 hour (or 2 if done at home)
  • Contact: Their website doesn’t have info on Covid testing, but their Instagram does (including the prices in this post)

Clinica MediHelp

  • Location: Bocagrande
  • Tests Offered:
    • PCR + Viral Panel: $580,000 pesos, 12 hour results
    • PCR: $400,000 pesos, 24 hour results
    • Antigen: $170,000, 3 hour results
    • Antibody: $140,000, 30 minute results
  • Contact info at their website (from where above info was taken) or via telephone 314 425-1118.

Caris

  • Location: They provide at home testing
    • *They also operate in Medellín, Bogotá, and Barranquilla
  • Tests Offered:
    • Molecular (presumably PCR): $300,000 pesos, results in 24-48 hours
    • Antibody: $70,000 pesos, results in 15-20 minutes
  • Contact info on their website (where above info is from) or by telephone at 316 433-6293.

Synlabs

  • Location: Centro de Salud, Ronda Real (near La Castellana Mall)
    • Also locations in Barranquilla, Santa Marta, Medellín, Cali and Bogotá (including in the airport)
  • Tests Offered:
    • PCR: $280,000 pesos, results in 24 hours
    • Antigen: $140,000 pesos, results in 24-36 hours
    • Antibody: $60,000 pesos, results in 24-36 hours
    • They state appointments should be made 72 hours before
    • Antigen and Antibody tests are offered at the Bogotá airport with 2 hour results for an extra $10,000 pesos
  • Contact info at their website (where above information was found) or via telephone at 333 033-3055.

Pasteur Laboratorios Clínicos

  • Location: in La Plazuela Mall
    • Also offer at home testing
  • Tests Offered:
    • Antigen: $200,000 pesos (for family groups of 3 or more $140,000), results given same day
    • Antibody: $120,000 pesos, results given same day

Gidser Salud

  • Location: Santa Lucia (near La Plazuela)
    • Also offer at home testing
  • Tests Offered:
    • Antigen: $130,000 pesos, results in 15 minutes
    • Antibody: $90,000 pesos, result time not listed
    • PCR: price not listed (word of mouth it is $225,000), results in 24-48 hours.
    • *Note surcharges apply to at home testing and result times may vary (word of mouth the at home charge is $30,000 pesos, but that may vary based on your location)
  • Contact: their website, their Facebook page, or via Whatsapp at 3205823494

Laboratorio Clínico Eduardo Fernandez

  • Location: Centro, Bocagrande, and Santa Lucia
    • Offer at home and drive up testing as well
  • Tests Offered:
    • Antigen: $150,000 pesos, results in 1 hour (only done in person in Bocagrande from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm)
    • Antibody: $110,000 pesos, results in the same day
  • Contact at their website. They can also be reached via Whatsapp from Monday to Friday at (+57) 317 369-4783.

Laboratorio Lorena Vejarano

  • Location: Santa Lucia (near Bomba el Amparo)
    • Also offer at home testing
  • Tests Offered:
    • PCR: $210,000 pesos, results in 24 hours ($10,000 discount if you are a business)
    • Antigen: $90,000, results in 2 hours
    • Antibody: $75,000, result time not listed
  • Many thanks to Annie for sharing. Their website does not have info on Covid, but their Instagram does.

Laboratorio Clinico Genesis del Caribe

  • Location: Centro Comercial Getsmaní Local 2B-01
  • Tests Offered:
    • Antigen: $130,000 pesos
    • Antibody: $100,000 pesos
  • Many thanks to Nawab for sharing this one with me via email. They can be reached via phone at 6644546 and are open from 7 am to 3 pm Monday-Friday and 7 am to 12 noon on Saturdays.

That is the list I have been able to put together so far of where you can get a Covid test in Cartagena. Again, if you know of any other testing sites, if any of the above information is inaccurate, if you had an experience where you got results back quicker or slower than the times listed by the clinics websites, please do share in the comments as it will help out others looking for where to get a Covid test in Cartagena.

Cheers and Safe Travels!

Did you like this post?

You may also find the following posts useful:
Entry Requirements for Colombia
Cartagena’s Beach Re-openings

This Post Has 25 Comments

  1. T Scott

    Invaluable information here. Thank you!

  2. Sidney

    Thanks for the information Adam. Is there a way that I can contact you via phone?

  3. Scott

    As usual you are a wealth of information. Thanks!

  4. SR

    Thanks Adam can you keep us updated on the pricing. I’m hearing the prices mays increase.

    1. I’ll do my best to try to verify these every once in a while, but it’s worth double checking since a lot of them aren’t published.

  5. Jenn

    This was soooo helpful! Much more concise and perfectly laid out in a digestible, easy to understand format. Way better than the US Embassy or Ministry of Health. Thank you! Amd we owe you drinks when we get to town (from a distance, of course!)

  6. Bryan

    Hi Adam,
    Super helpful!
    When they say they offer “At home testing” do they come to hotels also? And if so, how does it work to receive results/ how quickly?

    1. Hey Bryan. I would think yes, they woudl come to a hotel. I’m not entirely sure about how results are given, and it may vary by company, whether they send them to you or you have to go pick them up somewhere. The times listed above are what places list either online or when I contacted them, some do say they take a bit longer if it is done at home (I think that has to do with accounting for taking the sample back to the lab).

  7. Edmund Dantes

    New Follower. Wealth of detailed information. I love Cartagena and plan to be back in a few weeks.

    Just needed to get my timeline established on where I can get tested.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Edmund. That’s great, I’m glad you find it useful, and hope you you enjoy Cartagena once you are here!

  8. Gary Denton

    Laboratorio Lorena Vejarano Hi, thank you for this post. I am a senior mail looking to get antigen test soon prior to flying back to Miami. Laboratoria Lorena Vejarano is one of your listings, but I can’t seem to find it in Cartegena. There are other sites for it but in other cities in Colombia. Could you help me with this? I don’t speak Spanish, and 90,000 I believe is the cheapest for antigen, and I can afford that. Thanks for replying. Gary

    1. Hi Gary, so yes I couldn’t find clearly where they were located at first either. If you look them up on Instagram, they have more info and you can ask, but they are located in the Santa Lucia shopping mall, near the edge of the city heading towards Turbaco.

  9. Alex A

    Thank you so much for the info Adam. Do you know the hours of the airport testing site? I’m hoping to get a test this Saturday afternoon.

    1. Hi Alex. No, I can’t find it listed anywhere. I would think it’s normal business hours from 8 or 9 to 5 or 6 so I think you will be fine going Saturday afternoon. I would go around 2 as if they take a break for lunch it should be done by then. Some businesses only do half days on Saturdays here but I wouldn’t think that would be the case for a place offering Covid tests. You may want to try writing them via their instagram or whatsapp number if you are able to just to 100% confirm though.

      1. Katie

        Hi, do you need an appointment to go to the airport health cart? I am trying to get a PCR test to return home and don’t speak Spanish so I am having a hard time making appointment. Thank you

        1. Hi Katie. No, they take walk ups. Not sure what wait times are like, I wouldn’t think too long but may want to give yourself some cushion if you have plans after.

          1. Katie

            Thank you!

  10. Ian

    Has anyone used Laboratorio Clinico Genesis del Caribe?

    Are their results legit and accepted by airlines? idk why it comes across as shady being inside of a mall

    1. Haha, I haven’t used them, but it is probably ok, there are several of the big insurance companies that have clinics in the Castellano mall (that one is in Santa Lucia I think right?). Could just opt for the airport one to be 100% sure though.

  11. Doug Stone

    We are planning to visit Cartagena April 26 to May 2. the recent CDC Level 4 warning has my travel partner a little worried. Can you provide any on the ground assessment of if we should postpone? We are vaccinated, and have gone to the Bahamas without incident.

    1. There is a 3rd wave right now. ICU occupancy has gone up to around 70%. There are 10 pm curfews on weeknights and 12 pm on weekends declared until the 22nd. Hard to say if those will continue or not. I think cases would have to be extremely high for a full on shut down, so if you feel comfortable traveling and won’t have your trip ruined if curfews are continued, I think you should be ok.

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