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Ask for a test to check if you have coronavirus

If you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), you can ask for a test to check if you have the virus. This is called an antigen test.

There is another type of 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.

Information:

If you need medical advice about your symptoms:

Who can ask for a test

You can ask for 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

This service is for people in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The tests are not suitable for children under 5 years old. 

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

Important

Please help the NHS and only ask for a test if you or someone you live with has symptoms now.

When to ask for a test

You need to have the test in the first 5 days of having symptoms.

It's best to ask for the test in the first 3 days, as it may take a day or two to arrange.

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 or someone can do it for you.

Will I get a test?

There is very high demand for tests at the moment.

People in hospital and essential workers, including NHS and social care staff, are getting priority.

Even if you are successful in requesting a test, we cannot guarantee you will get one. It depends on how many tests are available each day in different parts of the country.

How do I ask for a test?

You can ask for a test online.

We'll ask you:

  • how you want to get the test – you may be able to choose between driving to a regional testing site or getting a home test kit
  • for details such as your name, mobile phone number and address
Information:

Apply for a coronavirus test on GOV.UK if you:

  • are an essential worker, including NHS or social care staff
  • are applying for tests for the residents and staff of your care home
  • have a verification code from your employer​

Help with asking for a test

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

Page last reviewed: 22 May 2020
Next review due: 29 May 2020