Find out more on how to get a Covid-19 vaccination and the vaccination programme here.


The risk of catching or passing on Covid-19 can be higher in certain places and when doing certain activities. Covid-19 is spread by airborne transmission, close contact via droplets, and via surfaces. Airborne transmission is a very significant way that the virus circulates. It is possible to be infected by someone you don’t have close contact with, especially if you’re in a crowded and/or poorly ventilated space.

You can find all this guidance in more detail here, including in other languages.

Get tested 

Getting tested for Covid-19 is really important in helping control the spread of the virus. It is important you get tested if you have symptoms and get tested if you don’t have symptoms but will be mixing with other people indoors.

There are different tests you can get to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19). The test you need depends on why you're getting tested.

The 2 main tests are:

  1. PCR tests – mainly for people with symptoms, they're sent to a lab to be checked
  2. rapid lateral flow tests – only for people who do not have symptoms, they give a quick result using a device similar to a pregnancy test

Both tests are free.

You can find local testing information via this map.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19

Get a PCR test as soon as possible if you have any of these symptoms, even if mild:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

Stay at home until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test. Check if people you live with need to self-isolate

Get a free PCR test to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19)

Rapid tests if you do not have symptoms

  • About 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms but can still infect others.
  • Rapid tests help to check if someone has COVID-19. If people test positive and self-isolate, it helps stop the virus spreading.
  • Research shows rapid tests are a reliable test for COVID-19. They give a quick result and do not need to be sent to a lab.
  • Even if you’re vaccinated, you could still catch the virus or pass it on. Doing rapid tests helps to protect yourself and others.

Do rapid tests on days when you're more likely to catch or spread COVID-19.

For example, do a test before you:

Get rapid COVID-19 tests if you do not have symptoms

Other reasons to get tested

Get a PCR test as soon as possible if:

  • you've done a rapid lateral flow test and had a positive result or your test sample could not be read (void result)
  • you had a PCR test and your test sample could not be read

If you have symptoms, stay at home until you get the result of the 2nd test.

Get a PCR test to check if you have COVID-19 on GOV.UK

If you've been in close contact with someone who's tested positive for COVID-19 you can get a PCR test, whether or not you have symptoms.

Get a PCR test to check if you have COVID-19 on GOV.UK

You may need to get tested if you're due to have surgery or a procedure.

The hospital will arrange this for you. Contact your hospital department if you have any questions.

You may need to take a test before, during and after your trip. This depends on where you are going.

Check the travel abroad from England during coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance on GOV.UK

You’ll need to pay for a test yourself. You cannot use a free test from the NHS.

Find out about private providers of coronavirus (COVID-19) testing on GOV.UK

Care home managers can get PCR tests for staff and residents even if they do not have symptoms.

Get PCR tests for a care home on GOV.UK

Updated: 06/01/2022