More information about taking a test at a rapid Covid-19 testing site

You can get rapid Covid-19 at one of our local test sites. This page provides further information about what happens at your appointment and how to get your result.

Visit 'Get a rapid Covid-19 test if you have no symptoms' to find out where you can get a Covid-19 test.

What to bring with you when you get tested

You should bring:  

  • confirmation of your booking – the confirmation email on your mobile device or printed out 
  • a mobile device to scan a QR or bar code on the test. There will be devices available if you don’t have your own 
  • a face covering (unless you are exempt)   
  • you may also want to bring a bottle of water, as we cannot provide water at the test site. 
  • do plan ahead – there are no toilet facilities at the test site 

How the test works 

The test 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, but there will be trained staff available if you need support. You can watch a video for a detailed explanation of the procedure. 

Once you have finished, the swab will be processed and analysed. Once the test is done, the swab is discarded. 

The rapid test is called a ‘lateral flow test’ – it does not need to be sent away to a lab and provides results very quickly, within an hour. More information about how Lateral Flow tests work, their safety and the validation process which they were subject to by Public Health England and scientists from Oxford University before being approved for use across the country, is available on the Public Health England website.

Getting your test results 

Results will be sent to you the same day via text message and/or email using the contact details you provided when booking your appointment.

The results are usually available within an hour – sometimes as fast as 30 minutes. 

You do not need to self-isolate while waiting for the test results, unless you develop symptoms of Covid-19.  

If you get a positive result  

You and anyone you live with now have a legal duty to self-isolate immediately. You may be contacted by NHS Test and Trace or the council and asked for information to help the NHS alert your close contacts.

If you are out or at work when you get your result please make your way home. Avoid using public transport if possible. If you are at work please inform your line manager immediately so that they can initiate their organisation's risk management plan – cleaning your work station for example.

We have dedicated support services to provide practical help for people to self-isolate, and you may be able to get a £500 payment. Visit Advice and help to self-isolate to find out more.

Full guidance on how to self-isolate is available on GOV.UK.

If you get a negative result  

You do not need to self-isolate, unless you have developed Covid-19 symptoms, live with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 or have been asked to self-isolate by NHS test and trace. 

However, a negative result does not fully rule out Covid-19 infection as there can sometimes be false negative lateral flow tests. This means you could still have the infection, but the test didn’t pick it up. This can happen because these tests only turn positive when there is a lot of virus growing in your nose and throat. 

This means that even after a negative test, to protect yourself and others, you must keep following the current restrictions and remember: Hands. Face. Space. 

Hands – wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water often, and as soon as you get home - use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available. 

Face – wear a face-covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. 

Space – stay at least 2 metres away from anyone you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble. 

What to do if you haven’t received your Covid-19 test results?

You should receive your Covid-19 test results on the same day of your test via NHS Test and Trace. Very occasionally, the national system may fail to send you a notification. If you don’t receive your results on the same day to the contact details you provided when you registered for your results, you will need to book another test.