Skip to main content

Guidance on who is eligible for testing and how to get a test.

First published:
18 May 2020
Last updated:

Do not visit your GP surgery or hospital to request a test, as you may infect others.

If you think you may have coronavirus follow the self-isolation guidance.

How to get tested

Anyone aged 5 and over with coronavirus symptoms should self-isolate and get a test. Coronavirus symptoms are:

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

Children aged 0 to 4 do not need to get tested unless advised by a doctor. They can still get a test if parents feel that this is in the best interest of the child.

Your local health board may offer you a test if you feel unwell, even if you don’t have coronavirus symptoms. Unless you develop one of the three recognised symptoms, you and your household do not have to self-isolate.

How to get a test if you have coronavirus symptoms

If you have coronavirus symptoms you need to take a test within the first 5 days of having symptoms as the test checks if you have coronavirus right now and not if you’ve already had the virus.

You can apply for a test for yourself or someone in your household with symptoms. This includes adults and children, including those under 5.

Book a test online

Book a test online (on GOV.UK)

You will be asked to input your postcode. The system will offer you appointments at the nearest testing sites with available slots.

If there are no tests available, try again later, as tests become available during the day.

Book a test by telephone

Call 119 between 7am and 11pm (calls are free).

If you have hearing or speech difficulties: call 18001119.

This service is available to help you book a test, but it cannot provide clinical advice.

It is available for support throughout the testing process. It offers support in up to 650 languages, including British Sign Language (BSL).

Assisted COVID-19 testing at home

If you are unable to do a test at home yourself and you cannot attend a test site you should call 119 and explain that you need an assisted COVID-19 test at home.

The call handler will give you a phone number for your local health board. Call this number to arrange a home visit.

Your local health board will arrange a date and time to assist you with the test. They will either call you prior to arriving or agree a password with you which the testers can use to identify themselves when they arrive at your door.

Results of the test will be sent by text message, so you will need to provide a mobile number. This can be yours or someone who can act as a delegated contact for you.

Taking the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test

The PCR test looks for the genetic code of the virus. 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 or someone can do it for you. Parents or guardians have to swab test children aged 11 or under.

Test results

The system and process used to notify you of your test results varies depending on the method you chose. When you book the test you will be given more information about how you’ll get your result. You should receive your test result within 72 hours.

If you’ve had a test at a:

  • mass testing centre
  • mobile testing unit
  • local testing site

If you are a critical worker and had a test at a community testing unit operated by the local health board, please contact your local health board for questions about test results.

If you’ve received your test result and have questions or need further advice, please visit Public Health Wales information for individuals tested for COVID-19 infection.

Testing people with no symptoms (asymptomatic)

Almost 1 in 3 people who have coronavirus, do not have any symptoms. They could be spreading the disease without knowing it. 

Rapid lateral flow tests are for people without symptoms. If you are over the age of 11 you are encouraged to take tests regularly.

If you get a positive lateral flow test result, self-isolate immediately and follow the self-isolation guidance.

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

If you need medical advice about your symptoms

Contact the 111 online coronavirus service or your GP if you feel your symptoms aren’t improving or you need advice.

If you don’t have internet access, call 111. In a medical emergency, dial 999 and inform the call handler or operator that you or your relative have COVID-19 symptoms.