Skip to main content

Your coronavirus test result

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

Getting your test result

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

Rapid lateral flow tests

Rapid lateral flow tests (LFTs) use a device similar to a pregnancy test to give a quick result. They're only for people who do not have symptoms.

If you did a rapid lateral flow test at home, you can see your result after 30 minutes. Understand more about rapid lateral flow tests on GOV.UK

If you did the test at a test site, you should get a text or email with your result within 2 hours. Get another test if you do not get your result within 12 hours.

Information:

You should report the result of a home test as soon as possible. Report a rapid lateral flow test result on GOV.UK

PCR tests

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are mainly for people who have symptoms. They're sent to a lab to be checked.

Most people get their result the next day, but it may take up to 3 days.

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.

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.

Information:

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

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. But this does not guarantee you do not have coronavirus, so you must keep following all social distancing advice.

You may still need to self-isolate after a negative test 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.

Check with your employer before going back to work.

If you get coronavirus symptoms after the test, you need to get tested again.

Information:

If you did a rapid lateral flow test at home, report your rapid lateral flow test result on GOV.UK as soon as possible.

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.

What you need to do next depends on the type of test you had and where you had it.

PCR test

If you had a positive PCR test (test that was sent to a lab), you and anyone you live with must self-isolate to avoid spreading the infection to other people.

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.

If you live in a care home or in supported living, you may need to self-isolate for 14 days instead of 10.

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

Tell your employer, school or nursery about your result.

Rapid lateral flow test at a test site

If you did a rapid lateral flow test at a test site and got a positive result, you and anyone you live with must self-isolate to avoid spreading the infection to other people.

The self-isolation period includes the day you had the test and the next 10 full days. Find out how long to self-isolate.

If you live in a care home or in supported living, you may need to self-isolate for 14 days instead of 10.

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

Tell your employer, school or nursery about your result.

Information:

If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you may be asked to get a 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.

Rapid lateral flow test at home

If you did a rapid lateral flow test at home and the result was positive:

Continue to self-isolate until you get the result of the PCR test. Follow the advice you're given when you get the result.

Important

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

Sample could not be read or void test result

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

What you need to do depends on the type of test you had.

PCR test

If you had a PCR test (test that was sent to a lab) and your sample could not be read, you'll usually need to get another test as soon as possible.

Self-isolate until you get the result of the 2nd test if:

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.

Information:

If you had the test because you're going into hospital, you may not need another test. Contact the hospital to find out what to do.

Rapid lateral flow test

If you did a rapid lateral flow test and your result was void, do another test as soon as possible.

You can do a home test if you have one.

Otherwise, go back to where you had your test before or get a test to check if you have coronavirus on GOV.UK.

Information:

If you did the test at home, report your rapid lateral flow test result on GOV.UK as soon as possible.

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: 4 March 2021
Next review due: 18 March 2021