Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): getting tested in Scotland

Guidance on Coronavirus testing, including who is eligible for a test, how to get tested and the different types of test available.

Contents
Coronavirus (COVID-19): getting tested in Scotland
If you do not have symptoms (asymptomatic)

If you do not have symptoms (asymptomatic)

Not everyone who has coronavirus will have symptoms, so people can be spreading the disease without knowing it. 

If you do not have symptoms of coronavirus you can access a test if you:

  • are part of a group that has been asked to test by your NHS public health team
  • have someone on the shielding list in your household
  • live in a community that has been targeted for testing
  • are planning to travel to a Scottish island

A further expansion of access to asymptomatic testing for anyone in the population has been announced and more information will be provided on this page on 26 April.

Order coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests

You can order free packs of rapid lateral flow tests to be sent to your home if you live in Scotland, are over 18 and:

  • have been asked to test by your local authority or NHS Public Health team
  • have someone on the shielding list in your household
  • are planning to travel to a Scottish island
  • cannot get tests from your work, school, college or university

You should not use this service if you have:

  • been asked to self-isolate

A rapid lateral flow test pack contains 7 tests. You can only order one pack per household each day.

Order rapid lateral flow tests on gov.uk This link will direct you to the UK Government site. If you have someone on the shielding list in your household or are planning to travel to a Scottish island, select 'yes' when the site asks if you were asked to get tested by a local authority or by an NHS Public Health team. For those travelling to a Scottish island, they should also click Scotland under the where in the UK do you live question, even if they live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Where testing takes place - community testing sites

If  you do not have coronavirus symptoms but live in a community that has been targeted for testing, you can access a test at a rapid test site. These are only available in some parts of Scotland.

You can usually just turn up and do not need to book in advance – but you should check the arrangements at your local site first.

You will be tested using a lateral flow device (LFD) which involves taking a swab or saliva sample. You should usually get your result within an hour.

Borders

 

Dumfries and Galloway

 

Fife

 

Greater Glasgow and Clyde

 

East Renfrewshire, Refrewshire, Glasgow City, Inverclyde, East and West Dunbartonshire

Highland

 

Lothian

 

Local information will also confirm who is being targeted for testing in your area. 

Asymptomatic PCR Testing

Sometimes you may be offered a PCR test and have the results within 48 hours (PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction). That test looks for the genetic code of the virus and involves taking a swab of the throat and nose.

How to book

There are different ways to request a test if you do not have COVID symptoms.

You can:

  • use the walk-in service in some locations (listed by area, above)
  • request a test via gov.uk (please note this is not universally available in Scotland, just some areas where a mobile test unit has been deployed)

To order a PCR test on gov.uk, follow these steps so that you get the right test:

  1. go to https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test  scroll down until you get to the 'Get a free PCR test' section and select ‘start now’
  2. answer yes or no to essential worker
  3. scroll to the bottom of page and select ‘continue’
  4. select no, none of these symptoms
  5. asked to get a follow up test - choose no
  6. when asked if part of a trial or government pilot, choose no
  7. select ‘My local council or health protection team has asked me to get a test, even though I do not have symptoms’

Testing positive

If you test positive please follow advice on self isolation. 

If you test positive after having a LFD test, you will have to book a follow up PCR test. 

Test results and staying safe

The PCR test will confirm if a person actually has the virus. It will not confirm whether they have had it and have now recovered.

It is vital those who test negative continue to follow guidance including precautions related to physical distancing and handwashing. A negative result is only for a point in time – if after a negative result you or your household member feels unwell please refer to NHS Inform guidance

Related information

Workplace and education sector testing

You may be invited to participate in a workplace or education setting asymptomatic testing programme. This is part of a national approach to tackling the spread of the virus.  

We are prioritising this offer of regular asymptomatic testing to minimise transmission through active case finding and to reduce harm to individuals at high risk.  More information: Coronavirus (COVID-19) - testing strategy: update - March 2021

International travel – testing

Some people travelling into Scotland by air need to provide proof of a negative test before they can travel. More information: Coronavirus (COVID-19): international travel and managed isolation (quarantine) 


First published: 11 Jan 2021 Last updated: 22 Apr 2021 -