You can get tested whether you have symptoms or not. Both regular and symptomatic testing are an effective way of keeping our friends, family and community safe.
Getting a test if you have symptoms or are a close contact
If you have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms you need to take a PCR test. This involves a throat and nose swab, and results usually within 3 days. You must self-isolate and only leave your home to get tested or in emergencies.
If you are a close contact of a positive case, and you are fully vaccinated, it is also advisable that you book a PCR test.
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
You can get tested at a testing site or order a home test kit. Book online or call 119.
What to do if you test positive
If you test positive with a PCR test, you must self-isolate for 10 days to help stop the virus spreading. If you test positive with a rapid LFD test, you must do a PCR test within 48 hours, and self-isolate until your result.
- do not go to work, school or public places – work from home if you can
- do not use public transport or taxis
- do not go out to get food and medicine – order it online or by phone, or ask someone to bring it to your doorstep
- do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for people providing essential care
- do not go out to exercise – exercise at home or in your garden
Find out more about what happens when you test positive, including practical and financial isolation support on our self-isolation page.
Getting a test if you do not have symptoms
Anyone can get regular rapid lateral flow tests without having symptoms. Even if you’ve had both your vaccinations, if you or those you’re living with, are mixing with people outside your household, you still need to test yourself with a rapid LFD test twice a week. This involves a throat and nasal swab, or on newer packs, a nasal swab only. Results available in up to 30 minutes.
About 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms but can still infect others. You may still be able to pass the virus on to others, even if you do not become ill yourself.
How to get regular rapid LFD tests
There are now nasal only LFD tests with different waiting times. The tests you get may be different to the ones you have done before so always check the pack instructions.
You can collect up to 2 packs of 7 tests for free to do at home from a local pharmacy:
You can get a pack of 7 tests for free sent to your home:
You can collect up to 2 packs of 7 for free tests from the Community Covid Bus. Staff can also administer, or help you do an LFD test: Search #CommunityCovidBus on Twitter to see where the minibus will be next.
If you do tests at home, you'll need to report your results online or on the phone. The instructions to do this will be in your test kit. It’s important to report even negative results, as this gives an accurate picture of Covid-19 in the UK.
If you’re unsure how to do an LFD test there are video guides available. You can watch a video for your type of LFD test at GOV.UK.
Some employers offer rapid tests. Ask your employer if they provide rapid tests. If they don’t, remember you can order them yourself for free to your home address (see 'How to get regular rapid LFD tests' above).
Nursery, school, college or university testing
It’s important if you attend or work in these settings that you do a rapid LFD twice a week. If you attend or work at a school, college or nursery you can get rapid tests through your school, college or nursery.
If you’re in a childcare or support bubble with someone who attends or works at a school, college, or nursery, you can order tests for free to do at home (see 'How to get regular rapid LFD tests' above). Primary school-age children and younger do not need to test with rapid LFD tests. If your child has symptoms of Covid-19, you must book a PCR test for them.