You can have a swab test to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) now.
Who can get a free test
You can only get a free NHS test if at least one of the following applies:
- you have a high temperature
- you have a new, continuous cough
- you’ve lost your sense of smell or taste or it’s changed
- you’ve been told to have a test before you go into hospital and you live in England
- you’ve been asked to by a local authority
- you’re taking part in a government pilot project
You can also get a test for someone you live with if they have symptoms.
Who cannot get a free test
You cannot get a free NHS test unless you have symptoms, have been asked to by your local authority, live in England and have been told to by your hospital, or are taking part in a government pilot project.
This applies even if:
- you live with someone who has coronavirus
- you’ve had close contact with someone who has coronavirus
- you’ve come to the UK from a high risk country
- you’re planning to leave the country
- your employer or school has asked you to get a test
You can pay for a private test. Do not use this service.
When to get a test
If you have coronavirus symptoms, you need to get a test done as soon as possible. You need to get the test done in the first 8 days of having symptoms.
Book a visit to a test site to have the test. Or order a home test kit if you cannot get to a test site.
On days 1 to 7, you can get tested at a site or at home. If you’re ordering a home test kit on day 7, do so by 3pm.
On day 8, you need to go to a test site. It’s too late to order a home test kit.
Get a test
Only get a test if you have coronavirus symptoms or have been asked to get tested. This will help make sure people who need a test can get one.
If you have other problems using the online service, call:
- 119 if you’re in England, Wales or Northern Ireland
- 0300 303 2713 if you’re in Scotland
Lines are open 7am to 11pm.
Stay at home if you have symptoms
If you’re getting a test because you have symptoms, you and anyone you live with must self-isolate until you get your result. This also applies to anyone in your support bubble (where someone who lives alone - or just with their children - can meet people from 1 other household).
You must also self-isolate if you cannot get a test.
What the test involves
The test 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. Parents or guardians have to swab test children aged 11 or under.
Getting a test for someone else
If other people you live with have symptoms, you can order tests for up to 3 of them.
If you’re applying for someone who’s 13 or over, check that they’re happy for you to get a test for them.
If you need medical advice about your symptoms
Get help at:
Call 999 if you feel very unwell or think there’s something seriously wrong.