Rapid COVID tests

Rapid COVID-19 tests

Around 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 do not have any symptoms. This means they could be spreading the virus without knowing it. Testing regularly increases the chances of detecting COVID-19 when you are infectious but are not displaying symptoms, helping to make sure you do not spread COVID-19 by staying at home and self-isolating immediately.

Rapid lateral flow testing continues to be available free of charge. You can get tests online, from our libraries, local pharmacies and community collect teams.

You are at higher risk of catching or passing on COVID-19 in crowded and enclosed spaces, where there are more people who might be infectious and where there is limited fresh air.

You may wish to take a rapid lateral flow test if it is expected that there will be a period of high risk that day. This includes spending time in crowded and enclosed spaces, or before visiting people who are at higher risk of severe illness if they get COVID-19.

Certain places such as health and social care settings, schools and prisons are likely to have their own specific testing rules and guidance. You should always make sure you are aware of this guidance if you visit or work in these places.

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test.

Having a test at home

Take a rapid Lateral Flow test twice a week and report the results, whether positive or negative.

If you do tests at home, you'll need to report your results online or on the phone. Your pack will include details of how to do this and what to do next.

Order online

You can order a pack of 7 tests for home delivery.

Order test kits online

You can also collect up to 2 packs of 7 tests from a local library or many local pharmacies.

Collect from a library

You can collect tests from our libraries without a code.

Find your nearest library.

Collect from a pharmacy

You will need a collect code when you pick up your tests from pharmacies.

Find a pharmacy where you can collect rapid tests.

Supervised rapid tests

Please note: We are no longer offering supervised lateral flow tests, as our team focuses on the community collect and supporting the vaccine outreach programme.

What is a rapid test and how does it work?

A rapid test, also called a lateral flow test, is a test for people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms. If you have symptoms, you should self-isolate at home and book a standard COVID-19 test online, on the NHS website, or call 119.

What to do if you test positive

A positive result means it's likely you had coronavirus (COVID-19) when the test was done.

Since 11 January 2022, in England, anyone who receives a positive LFD test result should report their result on GOV.UK and must self-isolate immediately but will not need to take a follow-up PCR test.

After reporting a positive LFD test result, they will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace so that their contacts can be traced and must continue to self-isolate.

There are a few exceptions to this revised approach.

First, people who are eligible for the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment (TTSP) will still be asked to take a confirmatory PCR if they receive a positive LFD result, to enable them to access financial support.

Second, people participating in research or surveillance programmes may still be asked to take a follow-up PCR test, according to the research or surveillance protocol.

Finally, around one million people in England who are at particular risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 have been identified by the NHS as being potentially eligible for new treatments. They will be receiving a PCR test kit at home by mid-January to use if they develop symptoms or if they get a positive LFD result, as they may be eligible for new treatments if they receive a positive PCR result. This group should use these priority PCR tests when they have symptoms as it will enable prioritised laboratory handling.

You can stop self-isolating at the start of day 6 if you get 2 negative rapid Lateral Flow test results on days 5 and 6 and do not have a temperature. Tests must be at least 24 hours apart. If either test is positive, wait 24 hours before testing again.

Find out how long to self-isolate.

Find out what support is available, if you need to self-isolate.