COVID-19 PCR testing if you have symptoms


When to get PCR a test

It's important to get a PCR test as soon as you develop any of the three main symptoms of COVID-19:

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

Anyone with symptoms should stay at home and self-isolate immediately. This still applies even if you have received one or more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

As of 16 August, if you live in the same household as someone with COVID-19, and you are fully vaccinated or aged under 18 years and 6 months, you will not be required to self-isolate, but you do need to get a PCR test. For more information visit the GOV.UK website.

British Sign Language NHS Facebook page video explaining Test and Trace.

How to book a PCR test

Book a PCR test online on GOV.UK's get a coronavirus test page or call 119.

Previously employers could access the employee referral portal to refer essential workers for a PCR test, but the portal is now closed. Essential workers who have symptoms are prioritised to get a test for coronavirus through the self-referral portal on the GOV.UK website.

You can find the list of essential workers prioritised for this test on the GOV.UK website.

Where to book a PCR test

There are two ways that you can get a PCR test if you are symptomatic and both are provided free of charge. The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat, which can be done by yourself (self-administered) or by someone else (assisted).

1. Visiting a walk-through or a drive-through test site - There are a number of test centres across Surrey. When you book, you will be able to where test slots are available where you live.

Watch a YouTube video explaining the process for drive-through testing.

2. Requesting a home testing kit – Home test kits are available if you cannot get to a testing site. Priority is given for essential workers. Home test kits are posted to your home and should arrive the day after you order it. You then complete the test at home and post the kit back.

Watch a YouTube tutorial supporting the instructions on your home testing kit.

Receiving PCR test results

Your results will be sent by email and text to the email address and mobile number you provide when you register for the test. You should receive your test result within 1 to 2 days of the test, but it can take up to 3 days.

You must continue to self-isolate until you get your result.

If your PCR test result is positive, you must complete your full self-isolation period. This will include the day your symptoms started and then the next 10 full days. You should also notify your employer. Further details on what to do if you test positive can be found on the Stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection GOV.UK website.

If your PCR test result is negative but you still have symptoms, you may have another viral illness such as a cold, flu or a stomach bug. You should stay at home until you feel well. Further details on what to do if you test negative can also be found on the Stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection GOV.UK website.

For additional information on COVID-19 testing visit the NHS Testing for coronavirus webpage.