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Your coronavirus test result

This information is about the swab test to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19).

Getting your test result

You'll 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.

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

If you do not get your result within 5 days, call the coronavirus testing contact centre on 119 (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or 0300 303 2713 (Scotland). The contact centre is open from 7am to 11pm.

There are 3 types of result you can get:

  • negative
  • positive
  • unclear, void, borderline or inconclusive

Stay at home

If you had a test because you had symptoms, you and anyone you live with must stay at home until you get your result.

Anyone in your support bubble must also stay at home until you get your result.

What is a support bubble?

A support bubble is where someone who lives alone (or just with their children) can meet people from 1 other household.

Find out more about making a support bubble with another household on GOV.UK.

Negative test result

A negative result means the test did not find coronavirus.

You do not need to self-isolate if your test is negative, as long as:

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

Information:

If you're a health or care worker, check with your employer before going back to work.

Positive test result

A positive result means you had coronavirus when the test was done.

If your test is positive, you must self-isolate immediately.

  • If you had a test because you had symptoms, keep self-isolating for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started.
  • If you had a test but have not had symptoms, self-isolate for 10 days from when you had the test.

Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must self-isolate for 14 days from when you start self-isolating.

Read more about how long to self-isolate.

Information:

If you test positive, you may be contacted by the NHS and asked for information to help the NHS alert your close contacts.

Unclear, void, borderline or inconclusive test result

An unclear, void, borderline or inconclusive result 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 can get a test to check for coronavirus on GOV.UK.

If you had a test because you had symptoms, you must keep self-isolating and have another test:

  • within 8 days of your symptoms starting (England)
  • within 5 days of your symptoms starting (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland)

If you're not able to have another test in time, you must self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started. Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must self-isolate for 14 days. Read more about how long to self-isolate.

If you had a test but have not had any symptoms, you do not need to self-isolate while you wait to get another test. People you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, do not need to self-isolate.

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.

Page last reviewed: 16 October 2020
Next review due: 23 October 2020