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Get a free NHS test to check if you have coronavirus

You can have a test (swab test) to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) now.

Who can get a test

You can get a free NHS test if:

  • you have any symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)

  • you're getting a test for someone you live with who has symptoms

  • you live in England and have been told to get a test before you go into hospital, for example, for surgery

  • your local council asks you to get a test

  • you're taking part in a government pilot project

Do not ask for an NHS test if:

  • you live with someone who has coronavirus but you do not have symptoms yourself – you need to self-isolate

  • you've been in close contact with someone who has the virus but you do not have symptoms – you do not need to do anything unless NHS Test and Trace tells you to

  • you're going abroad but do not have symptoms

  • you've arrived in the UK from abroad but do not have symptoms – you need to self-isolate if you've come from a country with a high coronavirus risk

  • your employer or school has asked you to get a test but you do not have symptoms

If your employer, school or travel company has asked you to get tested, and you do not have symptoms, you can pay for a private test.


Only get a test if you have coronavirus symptoms or have been asked to get tested. This will help make sure people who need a test can get one.

When to get a test

If you have symptoms, get a test as soon as possible. You need to get the test done in the first 5 days of having symptoms.

Book a visit to a test site to have the test today. Or order a home test kit if you cannot get to a test site.

On days 1 to 4 of your symptoms, you can get tested at a site or at home. If you're ordering a home test kit on day 4, do it by 3pm.

On day 5, you need to go to a test site. It's too late to order a home test kit.

Stay at home if you have symptoms

You must stay at home (self-isolate) if you have symptoms, whether or not you get a test. Find out how long to self-isolate.

Anyone in your support bubble must also stay at home. A support bubble is where someone who lives alone (or just with their children) can meet people from 1 other household.

Get a test now


This service is currently very busy. If you cannot get a test now, or the location or time are not convenient, try again in a few hours.

Get a test online on GOV.UK.

Start now on the GOV.UK website

Get help applying

If you have problems using the online service, call:

  • 119 if you're in England, Wales or Northern Ireland
  • 0300 303 2713 if you're in Scotland

Lines are open 7am to 11pm.


If no tests are available online, do not call the helpline to get a test. No extra tests are available through the helpline.

What the test involves

This test involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud. It checks if you have the virus now.

You can do the swab yourself (if you are aged 12 or over) or someone can do it for you. Parents or guardians have to swab test children aged 11 or under.


There is another test, the antibody test to check if you've had coronavirus. This is available on the NHS for some people.

Getting a test for someone else

If other people you live with have symptoms, you can order tests for up to 3 of them.

If you're applying for a test for someone else, and the person is aged 13 or over, check they're happy for you to get a test for them.

Urgent advice: If you need medical advice about your symptoms, go to:

Call 999 if you feel very unwell or think there's something seriously wrong.


Need help with getting a test?

If you're having problems getting a test, see answers to common questions about asking for a coronavirus test.

Privacy information

Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing: privacy information on GOV.UK

Page last reviewed: 26 September 2020
Next review due: 3 October 2020