Everyone in England without symptoms can access free home testing kits for coronavirus (COVID-19). You can use these lateral flow kits to test yourself for the virus twice a week.
Around one in three people with coronavirus don’t have any symptoms but can still pass it on. Asymptomatic testing is important for reducing the transmission of coronavirus, alongside contact tracing, self-isolating if you have a positive test result, social distancing, handwashing and wearing a face covering.
If you have any symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of taste or smell) you should get a PCR coronavirus test on NHS.UK and self-isolate immediately.
About lateral flow tests
Lateral flow tests are designed to find cases in those who have coronavirus but who aren't displaying symptoms. They work by swabbing your throat near your tonsils and nose. You get a result in 30 minutes.
These tests are best at detecting coronavirus when the virus is most infectious and may not detect cases in the early days of infection or where a test hasn't been performed correctly. Therefore, they should not be used as a test to rule out coronavirus and to stop following the guidance to protect yourself and those around you.
How to get lateral flow test kits
You can access lateral flow tests either:
- through a workplace testing programme on site or at home (if your workplace is registered for the national workplace testing scheme)
- through onsite testing at schools and colleges
- by collecting home test kits from a participating pharmacy - find a participating pharmacy on NHS.UK
- by ordering home test kits online
Ordering home test kits online
You can order test kits online to be sent to your home. Each test kit contains seven tests and you can order one test kit per household each day.
What twice-weekly home testing involves
You need to:
- take a home test twice a week (three or four days apart)
- report every result to NHS Test and Trace on the same day you take the test
You can report your test result online or by calling 119.
If you test positive or get coronavirus symptoms you must:
- self-isolate immediately
- get a PCR coronavirus test on NHS.UK to confirm the result
- follow the stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection
A negative result means the test did not find signs of coronavirus. But this doesn't guarantee you don't have coronavirus, so you should keep following all coronavirus advice including regular handwashing and wearing a face covering where recommended.
If you have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms
The most important symptoms of COVID-19 are the recent onset of any of the following:
- a high temperature
- a new continuous cough
- a loss or change to your sense of taste or smell
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 you need to get a PCR coronavirus test on NHS.UK or by calling 119. Stay at home while you're waiting for a home self-sampling kit, a test site appointment or a test result.
Do not use the lateral flow testing service as this is only for people without symptoms.