If you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), you can ask for a test to check if you have the virus. This is called an antigen test.

Who can ask for a test

You can ask for a test:

  • for yourself, if you have coronavirus symptoms now (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
  • for someone you live with, if they have coronavirus symptoms

This service is for people in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The tests are not suitable for children under 5 years old. 

If you're asking for a test for someone else and the person is aged 13 or over, check they're happy for you to ask for a test for them.

When to ask for a test

You need to have the test in the first 5 days of having symptoms.

It's best to ask for the test in the first 3 days, as it may take a day or two to arrange.

What the test involves

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 or someone can do it for you.

Will I get a test?

There is very high demand for tests at the moment.

People in hospital and essential workers, including NHS and social care staff, are getting priority.

Even if you are successful in requesting a test, we cannot guarantee you will get one. It depends on how many tests are available each day in different parts of the country.