What do the new government guidelines mean for COVID-19 testing?

Free testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) from the NHS has ended for most people in England.
hand of a person doing a lateral flow test

Last updated on 14 April 2022.

To check the latest Government guidance please visit Gov.uk

Most people in England are no longer advised to get tested. 

Free testing services have closed at:

  • pharmacies 
  • test sites
  • community collection points 
  • schools, nurseries and universities. 

If you still want to get tested and you're not eligible for a free NHS test, you must pay for a COVID-19 test yourself. 

You can buy a COVID-19 test from some pharmacies and retailers, in person or online. 

Do not call 119, as you will not be able to get a test this way. You cannot order tests from NHS 111 or 999. 

For the most up-to-date advice on COVID-19, please visit GOV.UK

Who can get a free NHS COVID-19 test?

A small number of people will still be able to get free COVID-19 tests from the NHS. 

If you have a health condition which means you're eligible for new COVID-19 treatments you can order free NHS tests yourself, if you have not received any tests yet or have used the tests you've been sent. 

If you're going into hospital for surgery or a procedure you may need to get tested if you're due to have surgery or a procedure. Your hospital will tell you how to get a test. Contact your hospital department if you have any questions. 

If you work in the NHS or in social care you are eligible for free tests if you're: 

  • NHS patient-facing staff
  • staff who deliver NHS services through an independent healthcare provider, and have direct contact with NHS patients
  • a social worker
  • a personal assistant
  • a Shared Lives carer
  • a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspector

If you work in care homes, domicilliary care, extra care and supported living services, and adult day care centres, you can also get free NHS tests. Find out more about free NHS tests if you work in adult social care on GOV.UK. 

Order a free NHS COVID-19 test if you're eligible 

You can get free NHS test kits sent to your home. 

Order NHS home test kits on GOV.UK. 

Travelling abroad from England or returning 

You do not need to take any COVID-19 tests before, during or after travel to England. This applies whether you are vaccinated or not. 

Other countries may have different COVID-19 testing requirements for travellers. You may need to take a test before, during and after your trip. 

Visit the government website to check the guidance on specific countries and their requirements to enter. 

Find out more about: 

Don't forget when travelling abroad you'll need to pay for a test yourself. You cannot use a free test from the NHS. 

Find out about private providers of COVID-19 testing. 

What to do if you test positive 

If you test positive for COVID-19, or have COVID-19 symptoms, please follow NHS advice on avoiding contact with other people. 

What you need to know when visiting a care home

The Government has now withdrawn its official guidance on visiting care homes and replaced it with recommendations to help providers keep social care settings safe for staff, residents, and people visiting loved ones. 

Find out more

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