There are different tests you can get to check if you have coronavirus. The test you need depends on why you're getting tested.

Testing for people with symptoms (PCR tests)

If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, you must self-isolate immediately and get a coronavirus test.

The main symptoms are:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

Stay at home until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test. Check if others you live with need to self-isolate.

You can order a home test to be sent to you, or for the fastest result book an appointment at a PCR test site. You will be shown the times and locations available when you book.

PCR tests are now also available for close contacts, to confirm results, for care homes, hospitals and travel. Find out more about which test to use and when.

Testing for people without symptoms (LFD tests)

Twice weekly rapid testing will find cases where people do not show symptoms and prevent the spread of infection.

Even if you’re vaccinated, there’s still a chance you can pass COVID-19 on, so you should keep testing regularly.

Within the test kit you will receive instructions on how to take the test, how to record the test result and what to do if you test positive. You should record both positive and negative results.

A number of different home testing kits are now available. Please check the instructions in your pack before testing. All are easy to use but the way they work varies slightly. Find out more about the different testing packs and how to take your swab and test for your results.

Please report all results (positive, negative or void) every time you use a rapid test kit and within 24 hours of getting the result. Reporting your results helps scientists track the spread of COVID-19.

If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 the symptom-free LFD tests are not the right one to take, you should book a free PCR test and follow the latest self-isolation guidance.

Pick up a test pack to take at home

If you’re happy to do the test yourself at home, you can drop-in and collect test kits to take at home. There’s no need to book, just find a site near you, check the opening hours and pick up a pack. 

Order test packs online to take at home

If you can’t get to a collect point or access tests through other routes, you can order a box of home test kits online or by calling 119.

Book an assisted symptom-free test

If you don’t feel confident taking the test by yourself at home you can take an assisted test at participating pharmacies. These tests are taken under supervision of a member of staff who will then process your result for you on site within 30 minutes. 

Other ways to get tested

Testing is also available through many workplaces and settings such as schools, colleges, universities, and the care sector.

More information about symptom-free testing is available on the GOV.UK website.

If you receive a positive result from any LFD test you must self-isolate immediately and take a follow-up PCR test within 2 days.

For example, if you test positive on Monday, you have until the end of Wednesday to get your follow-up test.

While waiting for your follow-up result you should follow the stay at home guidance.

If your follow-up test is negative, you can stop self-isolating.

If you receive a negative test result this does not completely rule out infection so you must continue to follow national guidance.

Support if you need to self-isolate

Self-isolation rules have changed. You no longer need to self-isolate in certain situations.

It is still a legal requirement to self-isolate if you are told to by NHS Test and Trace. You could be fined if you do not self-isolate.

Self-isolating can be difficult but help is available to help you get through it. If you or someone you look after needs to self-isolate and that means you can't work or face financial difficulty, you may be eligible for a one-off payment of £500.

If you need more than financial help and have worries about loneliness, the effect on your mental health, shopping or childcare, we have an experienced team who can help. Please contact our community advice and support hub.

More information

Covid symptoms

Test and trace: how it works

Stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus infection