Getting tested

The Government has expanded groups of people eligible for coronavirus testing. 

As soon as you experience coronavirus symptoms you must self-isolate for at least 7 days, and order a test immediately at or call 119 if you have no internet access.

If you test positive, you will need to self-isolate for 7 more days, and anyone in your household must self-isolate for 14 days.

The NHS test and trace service will contact you for information about your recent contacts to help stop the spread. Read more about how test and trace works here.

More than 8.5 million coronavirus tests since the pandemic began. There are now 68 regional testing sites across the country, alongside 6 new walk-through sites in England, new mobile testing units, and special home test postboxes for safe and easy returns. Additionally, 147 mobile testing units are now travelling the UK, with the total number reaching 236 by the end of July.

Since June 2 2020, the following people can ask for a test:

  • anyone in England and Wales who has symptoms of coronavirus, whatever their age
  • anyone in Scotland and Northern Ireland aged over 5 who has symptoms of coronavirus

Anyone eligible can book a test using an online portal.

Tests for essential workers are prioritised over the tests available for the wider public through the NHS. Click here for a full list of essential workers

How testing works

Testing occurs in the form of a swab of the nose and the back of the throat. You can do this yourself, or have it administered by someone else, such as a nurse.

Test results are usually returned within 48 hours of a swab being taken, or within 72 hours for a home test.

You can get tested in the ways listed below:

  • Test sites: The Government is establishing a network of drive-through and walk-through test sites.
  • Home test kits: Available in limited quantities, these can be delivered to someone’s door so they can test themselves and their family without leaving the house. 
  • Mobile testing units: mobile unites respond to need across the UK, travelling to test essential workers at sites including care homes, police stations and prisons.
  • NHS facilities: Testing within an NHS facility such as a hospital is available for patients and some NHS workers.

Care home residents and workers (England only)

In England, social care workers and residents in care-homes can get tested whether or not you have symptoms. Read the guidance here for care home residents and workers.

Working with Public Health England, the Care Quality Commission and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the government is working to deliver test kits directly to care homes across England. 

Testing in care homes is either administered by a local Health Protection Team or test kits that can be administered by carers and nurses.

  • Test kits are throat and nose swab tests
  • An online care home swabbing competency assessment is required before carrying out swabbing.

Regular testing (retesting) for care homes in England will begin from 6 July. This involves care homes testing staff weekly and residents every 28 days.

Read more about retesting here.

Go to the NHS website to apply for a test.