Guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19) PCR home test kit instructions

Find out how to do an NHS PCR test for COVID-19 at home and check if you need to register a test kit.

Documents

How to test yourself for coronavirus (COVID-19) at home (easy read)

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) PCR home test kit instructions in audio, braille, large print and giant print from RNIB

Details

A PCR test is a test for COVID-19 that is sent to a lab.

This guide tells you how to:

  • do a PCR home test for COVID-19 for yourself or a child
  • register your test kit (if you need to do this) so you can get your result
  • post the completed test kit in a Royal Mail priority postbox

There’s separate information on how to do a rapid lateral flow test. Rapid lateral flow tests show the result on a device that comes with the test.

Check if you need to register a test kit

If you ordered a PCR home test kit online or by calling 119, check if you need to register the kit before you send it to the lab.

Test kits that are already registered will have a ‘Registered kit’ label on the outer bag. If you have an order confirmation email, this will also tell you if the test kit is already registered.

Only use the test kit registered to you, or you will not be sent the result.

If you need help to register or do the test

Watch a video about how to do a PCR home test.

Video: how to test yourself at home using a PCR test kit.

Watch a video about how to test a child with a PCR home test kit.

Video: how to do a PCR home test for a child.

You can call 119 (free from mobiles and landlines) if you need extra support to register and do the test.

Lines are open:

  • Monday to Friday (including bank holidays), 8am to 6pm
  • Saturday and Sunday, 9am to 1pm

119 provides support in 200 languages.

SignVideo is a free online British Sign Language interpreter service for 119.

You can use the free Be My Eyes app to get help from trained NHS Test and Trace staff. Download the app, go to ‘Specialized Help’ and select ‘NHS Test & Trace’ in the ‘Personal Health’ category.

Give feedback about your test kit or report harm

If anything in your test kit is damaged or missing, do not use it. Call 119 to get a new test kit.

If you’ve been harmed or had a reaction using the test kit, report it as soon as possible.

Find out how to give feedback about your test kit or report harm.

Published 12 November 2020
Last updated 13 July 2022 + show all updates
  1. Updated video link for how to test yourself at home using a PCR test kit.

  2. Updated 119 phone line opening hours.

  3. Updated information to reflect changes in testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) in England.

  4. Updated link to the RNIB website for additional formats, including audio, braille, large print and giant print.

  5. Added video showing how to do a PCR home test for a child. Updated wording to reflect that rapid lateral flow tests are usually for people without symptoms of COVID-19.

  6. Replaced the guide 'COVID-19 home test: step-by-step guide for use in Wales (Cymru/Cymraeg)' with an updated guide in Welsh.

  7. Added information about giving feedback about your test kit or reporting harm.

  8. Updated translations of 'How to test yourself for coronavirus (COVID-19) at home (easy read)'. Added Spanish and Romanian translations.

  9. Added video showing how to do a PCR home test.

  10. Updated to reflect that some test kits are already registered.

  11. InterpreterNow has changed to SignVideo.

  12. Updated to include information about the InterpreterNow service and that 119 provides support in 200 languages.

  13. Added 'How to test yourself for coronavirus (COVID-19) at home (easy read)'.

  14. Updated to reflect changes in test kit components.

  15. NHS helpline for Scotland has changed to 119.

  16. Added information about the 'Be My Eyes' app, where you can have a live video call with specially trained NHS Test and Trace staff to help you register and take a home coronavirus test.

  17. Updated all easy read translations to correct test packaging instructions.

  18. Added translations of 'How to test yourself for coronavirus (COVID-19) at home (easy read)'.

  19. Added a link to the RNIB website for additional formats, including audio and braille.

  20. Added 2 new documents: ‘COVID-19 home test: step-by-step guide for people with visual impairments’ and an HTML version of 'Testing yourself for coronavirus: easy read'. Changed page title to make it clear that the instructions are for a PCR test.

  21. Added large print and plain text versions of the home testing instructions.

  22. Added a new document, 'COVID-19 home test: step-by-step guide for use in Wales', and an updated version of 'Testing yourself for coronavirus: easy read'.

  23. First published.