There are different tests you can get to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19). The test you need depends on why you’re getting tested.

The 2 main tests are:

  • PCR tests – mainly for people with symptoms, they’re sent to a lab to be checked
  • rapid lateral flow tests – only for people who do not have symptoms, they give a quick result using a device similar to a pregnancy test

Both tests are free.

Regular tests if you do not have symptoms

Anyone can now get regular rapid lateral flow tests without having symptoms.

About 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms but can still infect others. You should do a rapid test twice a week (every 3 to 4 days) to check if you have the virus.

If people test positive and self-isolate, it helps stop the virus spreading.

Even if you’re vaccinated, there’s still a chance you can pass COVID-19 on, so you should keep getting tested regularly.

Other reasons to get tested

Confirming a previous test result

Get a PCR test as soon as possible if:

  • you’ve done a rapid lateral flow test and had a positive result or your test sample could not be read (void result)
  • you had a PCR test and your test sample could not be read

If you have symptoms, stay at home until you get the result of the 2nd test.

Get a PCR test to check if you have COVID-19 on GOV.UK

If you’re self-isolating because you’ve been in close contact with someone who’s tested positive

If you’ve been in close contact with someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19 you can get a PCR test, whether or not you have symptoms.

What does close contact mean?

Getting tested can tell you if you had COVID-19 at the time you did the test.

If you test positive, you can help the NHS contact people who may have caught the virus from you. They can then self-isolate and avoid passing it on to others.

You must continue to self-isolate for the 10 full days even if your result is negative, as you could still become infectious.

Get a PCR test to check if you have COVID-19 on GOV.UK