How to get a COVID-19 test

Whether you have coronavirus symptoms – or there’s other reasons you want to have a test – let’s guide you through your next steps

The only way to know for sure if you have COVID-19 (coronavirus) is to have a test. The NHS offers a free COVID-19 swab test for certain situations, including importantly for anyone with symptoms. If you don’t fit the criteria and don’t have symptoms but you’d still like to be tested, there are private tests available.

Free NHS COVID-19 swab test

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get a free NHS COVID-19 swab test to check if you have the virus. Anyone who has symptoms should get a test. You can also get a test for someone you live with if they have symptoms. The test is a swab of your nose and throat. You can get an NHS test if at least one of the following is true:

• You have a high temperature

• You have a new, continuous cough

• You’ve lost your sense of smell or taste, or one of them has changed

• You’ve been asked to get a test by a local council

• You’re taking part in a government pilot project

• You’ve been asked to get a test to confirm a positive result

NHS test sites are open seven days a week or you can order a home test kit if you can’t get to a test site. If you’re going into hospital for surgery or a procedure, you may also need to get tested. Your hospital will arrange this for you if it’s needed.

Getting your NHS COVID-19 test results

If you had a test because you had symptoms, you and anyone you live with need to stay at home until you get your result. Those in your support bubble must also do the same if you've been in close contact with them since your symptoms started, or during the 48 hours before they started.

After your test you'll get a text or email when your results are ready. If you use the NHS COVID-19 app, you may get your result in the app. Most people get their result the next day, but it can take up to three days. Once you have your results, you should follow the latest guidance on test results. If you’re isolating at home, read our top tips on how to take care of your mental health.

Private COVID-19 testing

You can’t use the NHS COVID-19 testing service if:

• 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, but you have no symptoms

If you would like to have a COVID-19 test but you don’t qualify for the NHS service, you can pay for a private test. There are a number of different providers offering private COVID-19 tests.

COVID-19 testing at Boots

In-store COVID-19 Testing Service

Our In-store COVID-19 Testing Service (PCR) is a convenient way to get a swab test to check for a current COVID-19 infection. The service costs £120 and is suitable for adults and children five years of age and over. Results are available within 48 hours after your appointment.

UAE Pre-Flight COVID-19 Testing Service (PCR)

If you’re travelling to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), you’ll need to have a test to check for a current COVID-19 infection, before flying into the country. Our UAE Pre-Flight COVID-19 Testing Service (PCR) provides a COVID-19 nose and throat swab test for anyone over five years old, flying to the UAE. Results are available within 48 hours after your appointment.

Our COVID-19 testing services are not suitable for anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, or anyone who thinks they may have COVID-19. Please don’t book an appointment or come into store if you, anyone in your household or support bubble, have symptoms of COVID-19 – or if you’ve been told to isolate after contact with a person that has tested positive for COVID-19.