Which COVID-19 test is right for you?

Not all COVID tests are the same so it’s important to get the right one. Find out where to go to get tested, which test is most suitable for you, and what to do if you get a positive COVID-19 test result.
A woman having a lateral flow Covid test

This article is correct as of 29 April 2021. For the latest information on COVID-19 tests visit the Islington Council website

Which test do I need if I have COVID-19 symptoms?

You will need a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test if you have at least one of these three coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • you’ve lost your sense of smell or taste or it’s changed


  • you’ve been in contact with someone who’s tested positive
  • you’ve been asked to get a test by the local council or contact tracers
  • a GP or other health professional has asked you to get a test
  • you’ve been asked to get a test to confirm a positive result
  • you need to get a test for someone you live with who has symptoms

If you need a PCR test, you can book a visit to a COVID-19 symptomatic test site to have the test today. Two walk-through testing sites are open in Islington, one in the car park of the Sobell Leisure Centre and the other in Finsbury Leisure Centre. These sites are open 7 days a week from 8am to 8pm. They are not able to accept people who come for tests without booking.

Order a home test kit if you cannot get to a test site.

Book a free PCR test

You should not use this service if you’ve received a positive PCR test result in the last 90 days unless you develop any new symptoms.

Remember, if you have symptoms, you and everyone you live with must immediately self-isolate. Do not leave home until you get your test results, except to post a test kit or for a PCR test appointment.

Have you ordered a home test kit?

Make sure you register it so that you receive your results.

Register your PCR testing kit

Having trouble ordering a test?

You can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week. 

Can I get tested even if I don't have symptoms of COVID-19?

Yes, if you do not have symptoms you can be tested for the virus using a rapid lateral flow test:

  • ask your employer or place of study if they provide rapid tests
  • Islington Council is offering free rapid tests for people who live and work in Islington from three sites, St Luke's Holloway, Arsenal Community Hub, and the Vibast Community Centre. Rapid tests take about 15 minutes and need to be booked in advance.
  • To book a rapid lateral flow test go to the Booking a coronavirus test webpage on the Islington Council website, scroll down to Non-symptom testing and follow the instructions.

Book a rapid test in Islington

Home testing kits (rapid lateral flow)

  • You can also collect a home testing kit from one of the three rapid testing sites in Islington, or from 222 Upper Street, from 10am to 2pm, Monday to Friday. There’s no need to book an appointment if you’re collecting a home testing kit, just remember to wear a face-covering over your mouth and nose while you’re on site. Up to two kits can be collected at a time, one for you and one for someone else. Each kit contains enough tests for three weeks.
  • find a pharmacy where you can collect home test kits
  • order rapid lateral flow home test kits online

How can I order COVID-19 rapid lateral flow tests?

You can go online to order free packs of rapid lateral flow tests to be sent to your home. A pack of tests contains 7 tests. You can order one pack per household each day.

Order your lateral flow test

Do I need to record my rapid lateral flow test result?

If you have had a rapid lateral flow test, you should get your result in 30 minutes after taking the test. 

After your test packs arrive, you should take a rapid lateral flow test twice a week (every three or four days).

You must report a positive result to the NHS.

report your results by telephone - 119

I've tested positive through my rapid lateral flow test - what do I do next?

If you or anyone in your household tests positive, everyone in the household must:

What is surge testing and how do I take part?

Surge testing is increased testing (including door-to-door testing in some areas) and enhanced contact tracing in specific locations in England.

It involves testing of people who do not have any symptoms of coronavirus.

To see if your area is taking part in surge testing, click the link below.

Find out if surge testing is taking place near me

Home testing instructions in alternative formats

See instructions on testing for coronavirus at home in accessible formats.

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) can send you braille, audio or large print instructions. After ordering a home test you can either:

call the RNIB helpline 0303 123 9999 (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, Saturday 9am to 1pm)

Still not sure?

Head to the NHS website or phone 119 to find out which test is most suitable for you.

Go to NHS website