COVID-19: Testing & Tracing

The service in England to get a free PCR test or lateral flow tests has now ended for the majority of people. You can find out if you are eligible below. 

If you need to do a COVID-19 test, you must now pay for one. You can purchase tests at some pharmacies or retailers, in person or online.

Please do not call 119, 111 or 999 to get a test, you will not be able to get one this way. 

FREE Rapid Lateral Flow Tests

You are eligible for a Rapid Lateral Flow Test if: 

 You can also order tests if:

You will receive the result from your test in 30 minutes. A device similar to a pregnancy test is used and does not need to be sent to a lab. You can order a pack of 7 rapid lateral flow tests to be sent to your home by following this link. 

If you are returning to the UK from abroad, you are not eligible for a free COVID-19 test. You must book a test from a private provider. You can find out more about the private providers by clicking here.

What does the test involve?

The test usually 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. Children aged 11 or under cannot do the swab themselves. Their parent or guardian will have to swab test them.

NHS Test & Trace

In England, you’ll be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service if you test positive for COVID-19.

You'll be asked where you've been recently and who you've been in close contact with.

This will help the NHS contact anyone who may have caught the virus from you.

How you'll be contacted

You'll be contacted by email, text or phone.

  • Text messages will come from the NHS. Calls will come from 0300 0135 000.

Children under 18 will be contacted by phone wherever possible and asked for their parent or guardian's permission to continue the call.

What you'll be asked to do

On the contact tracing website, you'll be asked for information including:

  • your name, date of birth and postcode
  • if you live with other people
  • any places you've been recently, such as a workplace or school
  • names and contact details of any people you were in close contact with in the 48 hours before your symptoms started (if you know these details)

If you cannot use the contact tracing website, you'll be asked for this information over the phone.


The NHS Test and Trace service WILL NOT:

  • ask for bank details or payments
  • ask for details of any other accounts, such as social media
  • ask you to set up a password or PIN number over the phone
  • ask you to call a premium rate number, such as those starting 09 or 087

How your information will be used

All information you provide to the NHS Test and Trace service is confidential.

No one who is contacted will be told your identity.

Anyone you've been in close contact with will be told to stay at home (self-isolate) for 14 days. This is because it can take up to 14 days for COVID-19 symptoms to appear.

NHS COVID-19 app

Protect your loved ones. Download the app.

The free NHS COVID-19 app is a vital part of the NHS Test and Trace service in England, and the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect service. It is the fastest way to see if you're at risk from COVID-19. The faster you know, the quicker you can alert and protect your loved ones and community!

The app has a number of tools to protect you, including contact tracing, local area alerts and venue check-in. It uses proven technology from Apple and Google, designed to protect every user’s privacy. Read more about the NHS COVID-19 app protects your data and privacy.

Video: Introducing the NHS COVID-19 app

What the NHS COVID-19 app does

  1. Trace - Get alerted if you've been near other app users
  2. Alert - Know your level of COVID-19 risk in your postcode district
  3. Check-in -  Scan the official NHS QR code at venues you enter  
  4. Symptoms - Check your symptoms and see if you need to order a free test
  5. Test - Get help with booking a test and receiving your result
  6. Isolate - Keep track of your self-isolation countdown and access relevant advice

Download the NHS COVID-19 app

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Further information

Last updated: 11/04/22