Anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can get a free test to check if they have the virus. Some people without symptoms can have the test too.
There is another test (antibody test) that checks if you've already had the virus. This test is not widely available yet. You can find out about antibody testing on GOV.UK.
Who can get a test
You can get a test:
- for yourself, if you have coronavirus symptoms now (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
- for someone you live with, if they have coronavirus symptoms
- for yourself, if you have been told to have a test before you go into hospital, for example, for surgery
- for yourself, if you live in Leicester, where there is a coronavirus outbreak
You can get 1 test for each person with symptoms or one for yourself if your hospital tells you that you need it.
This service is for people in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In England and Wales, you can get a test for a child who lives with you, whatever their age. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, you can only get a test for your child if they are aged 5 or over.
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.
What the test involves
The test usually involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud.
You can do the swab yourself (if you are aged 12 or over) or someone can do it for you. Children aged 11 or under cannot do the swab themselves. Their parent or guardian will have to swab test them.
There are 2 ways of getting a test. You can:
- book an appointment at a drive-through or walk-through test site
- ask for a home test kit – this will be delivered to your home
If you get a home test kit, you will need to do the test and return the kit in the next 48 hours. You will be told how to do this.
When to apply for a test
You need to get the test done in the first 5 days of having symptoms.
If you do not have symptoms, you can only get a test if your hospital has told you to.
Do not wait
Apply for the test as soon as you have symptoms.
|Days since symptoms started||What you can order|
|Days 1 to 4||Book a drive-through or walk-through test at a test site or order a home test kit.
Order the kit by 3pm on day 4 to make sure you can do the test in the first 5 days.
|Day 5||Book a test at a test site. It's too late to order a home test kit.|
|Day 6 onwards||It's too late for a test.|
How do I get a test?
You can apply for a test online.
We'll ask you:
- how you want to get the test – at a drive-through or walk-through test site or by ordering a home test kit
- for details such as your name, mobile phone number and address
This service is for everyone.
Some people can get priority tests on GOV.UK. Go to GOV.UK if you:
- are an essential worker, including NHS or social care staff
- are asking for tests for the residents and staff of your care home
- have a verification code from your employer
Stay at home
If you are getting a test because you have symptoms, you and anyone you live with must stay at home (self-isolate) until you get your result.
Anyone in your support bubble must also self-isolate until you get your result.
Help with getting a test
If you're having problems getting a test, see answers to common questions about asking for a coronavirus test.