Getting tested for COVID-19

Find out when you should get a test, where to get a test, and what happens next. Testing is free if you have been asked to get a test by a health official, have been identified as a household contact or have COVID-19 symptoms.

When you should get a test

You should get a test for COVID-19 if you have:

Where to get a test

Rapid antigen testing (RATs) is now being used extensively as part of the COVID-19 testing strategy. You can order a RAT for testing yourself at home. Alternatively, if you go to a testing site, the staff there will determine if a RAT or PCR is best for you.

Order a rapid antigen test

You can order rapid antigen test (RAT) kits for yourself and your household. These can be picked up from a collection site. Someone else can collect these on your behalf.

Find community collection sites in your area on:

Get a test in person

Please wear a mask when you go for a test. If you can, bring your National Health Index (NHI) number with you. This is likely to speed up the process. You can still be tested if you don’t know your NHI number.

Testing at a hospital

If you are very unwell and advised by Healthline or your doctor you need to be assessed or tested at the hospital, you can ask someone to help you get there. If you need someone with you at the hospital, you or your support person should call ahead and discuss this with the doctor or nurse at the hospital.

If you have had a PCR test

If you have had a PCR test for COVID-19 go straight home and stay there while you wait for your result (this takes between 2 to 5 days)

Testing positive for COVID-19


Testing negative for COVID-19

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should stay at home and get tested. If your RAT result is negative but your symptoms continue or worsen, you should take a further test 48 hours later.If your symptoms get worse, contact your local healthcare provider or call Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

It's possible for someone with COVID-19 to get a negative RAT result. This can happen because there wasn't enough virus in the sample, or because the test wasn't done correctly.

Record any positive and negative results in My Covid Record.

If the test fails or is indeterminate

If a result is failed or indeterminate, you must take another RAT. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how long to wait between tests.

See also:

The cost of testing

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