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Your coronavirus test result

This information is about coronavirus (COVID-19) swab tests.

Getting your test result

You'll usually get a text or email with your result when it's ready. If you use the NHS COVID-19 app, you may also get your result in the app.

There are 2 types of swab test. How long it takes to get your result depends on the type of swab test you had.

Rapid swab tests

If you had a rapid swab test (lateral flow test), you should get your result within 2 hours.

Get another rapid swab test if you do not get your result within 12 hours.

Other swab tests

If you had a swab test that is sent to a lab (PCR test), it takes longer to get your result. Most people get their result the next day, but it may take up to 3 days.

If you have symptoms, you and anyone you live with should stay at home (self-isolate) until you get your result.

If you do not get your result by day 6, call:

  • 119 (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)
  • 0300 303 2713 (Scotland)

The call centre is open from 7am to 11pm.

Negative test result

A negative result means the test did not find signs of coronavirus.

You do not usually need to self-isolate if you get a negative result. Keep following the same social distancing advice as everyone else.

You may still need to self-isolate if:

If you still feel unwell after a negative test, stay at home until you're feeling better. Contact a GP if your symptoms get worse or do not go away.

If you're being sick, have diarrhoea or have a high temperature, stay at home until 48 hours after they've stopped.

Information:

Check with your employer before going back to work.

Positive test result

A positive result means it's likely you had coronavirus when the test was done.

You and anyone you live with must self-isolate immediately and keep self-isolating until you're no longer infectious.

The self-isolation period includes the day your symptoms started (or the day you had the test, if you do not have symptoms) and the next 10 full days. Find out how long to self-isolate

You may be contacted by the NHS or your local council and asked for information to help the NHS alert your close contacts.

Information:

If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and have a positive rapid swab test (lateral flow test), you may be asked to get another type of test that is sent to a lab (PCR test) to confirm the result.

Follow any instructions you're given or get a test to check if you have coronavirus on GOV.UK.

Important

You could be fined if you do not self-isolate after getting a positive test result.

Sample could not be read

If your sample could not be read, it means it's not possible to say if you had coronavirus when the test was done.

Get another test as soon as possible if this happens.

You should self-isolate until you get the result of the 2nd test if:

  • you had the test because you had symptoms
  • someone you live with has symptoms or tested positive
  • you've been told you've been in contact with someone who tested positive

Anyone you live with should also self-isolate if you had the test because you have symptoms, or someone you live with has symptoms or tested positive.

Urgent advice: If you need medical advice about your symptoms:

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

Page last reviewed: 27 January 2021
Next review due: 10 February 2021