Guide to rapid testing for coronavirus (COVID-19)

Guide to rapid testing for coronavirus (COVID-19)

What rapid testing is

Rapid testing is a quick way to test people who do not have symptoms of coronavirus but might still be infectious.

How rapid testing works

Rapid testing uses lateral flow tests.

These tests:

  • use a swab taken from the nose or throat
  • don’t need to be sent to a lab for processing
  • can give a result in under an hour

Lateral flow tests are different to the tests used to test whether people with coronavirus symptoms have coronavirus (PCR tests). Lateral flow tests do not tell you if you have coronavirus or not, just whether you’re highly infectious. You could still have coronavirus if your test result is negative and you could still be infectious, so you still need to follow social distancing rules.

Watch a video that explains rapid testing in British Sign Language:

Why we're offering rapid testing

We’re offering rapid testing because about 1 in 3 people who have coronavirus do not have symptoms. 

Rapid testing can identify people without symptoms who are highly infectious with coronavirus so that they can be advised to self isolate.

You don’t have to get rapid tests, but it can help reduce the spread of coronavirus if you do.

Who can get rapid tests

Anyone can get rapid tests as long as you:

When to take a rapid test

You should take a test twice a week.

Rapid testing is most effective when people take tests regularly.

Where to get a rapid test

You can:

Get tests to take at home

You can get tests to take at home from:

  • the Bristol Rapid Testing Centre, 17-18 Wellington Road, BS2 9DA, 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday
  • Hengrove Leisure Park, BS14 0HR, 2.30pm to 8pm, Monday to Sunday
  • Netham Park, BS5 9RU, 2.30pm to 8pm, Monday to Sunday
  • Victoria Rooms Car Park, BS8 1EG, 2.30pm to 8pm, Monday to Sunday
  • Portway Park and Ride, 9am to 3pm, Monday to Sunday, up to and including Monday 26 April

You do not need an appointment. 

Do not go to the Hengrove Leisure Park, Netham Park or Victoria Rooms sites at other times, because they’re used for testing people with symptoms of coronavirus before 2.30pm.  

You can collect up to 14 tests (2 packs of 7) at a time.

If you need help to take a test, you should go to the Bristol Rapid Testing Centre.

Take a test at the Bristol Rapid Testing Centre

The Bristol Rapid Testing Centre is at 17-18 Wellington Road, BS2 9DA. It’s open:

  • Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm 
  • Saturday and Sunday, 9am to 5pm 

You must:

  • wear a face covering, unless you’re exempt
  • follow the one-way system

The site is accessible by car, bike or walking. We do not recommend you travel by public transport because you’ll get your test result within an hour and will need to self-isolate if it’s positive. 

The site has disabled access. You can bring a helper or carer with you if you need to. 

You can bring your children with you if you do not have childcare for them.

You can get help to take the test if you need it. You must arrive at least 40 minutes before closing time if you need help with a test.

  1. When you arrive on the site, we’ll ask you to take a seat while you wait.
  2. We’ll call you to the registration desk and ask you to register on or log in to the national portal. We’ll give you a barcode which you need to enter into the portal while you’re at the registration desk. 
  3. You’ll then go to a numbered booth, where you’ll be given a test and instructions for how to take it.
  4. After you take the test, give it to the processor. They’ll check you’ve done it correctly and let you know you can leave. You do not need to wait for your results before you leave. 

This should take no more than 15 minutes.

NHS Test and Trace will tell you your test result by email, text message or phone within 1 hour.

How to take a test at home

Take the test home so you can take it safely.

It will come with instructions on how to:

  • take the test
  • tell if the result is positive or negative

It will tell you the result within 30 minutes.  

You can also download COVID-19 rapid (lateral flow) home test kit instructions from GOV.UK. The instructions are available in 12 languages.

After you’ve taken the test, throw it away in your black wheelie bin.  

Report your test result 

You must report your test result within 24 hours on GOV.UK. If you can’t register it online, call 119.  

After you get your test result

If your test result is negative, you must continue to follow the government coronavirus restrictions (GOV.UK).

If your test result is positive, you must:

If you get a positive test result from a test you took at home, you must book a PCR test to confirm the result:

You may be eligible for a NHS Test and Trace Support Payment if you have to self isolate. If you need help to get food or do other essential tasks while self isolating, call 0800 694 0184, 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday, 10am to 2pm Saturday and Sunday.