Testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) before hospital
Sets out how and when to use a PCR home test kit to test for COVID-19 before a hospital procedure.
Applies to England
If you are going into hospital, you must take your coronavirus (COVID-19) PCR home test kit exactly 3 days before the day of your procedure.
This guidance details how to:
- check the test kit contents
- prepare, take and package your swab sample
- return your completed test kit
- get your test results by text
The test outlined in this guidance is suitable for:
- adults aged 16 and over
- young people aged 12 to 15
- children 11 and under
If you need help to do the test
Watch a video about how to do a PCR home test:
Watch a video about how to test a child with a PCR home test kit:
How to test a child for COVID-19 (PCR home test)
You can call 0800 0511 811 (free from a mobile and landlines) if you need extra support to do the test. Lines are open every day, 7am to 11pm.
Give feedback about your test kit or report harm
If anything in your test kit is damaged or missing, do not use it.
Call 0800 0511 811 for advice on what to do next.
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.
Last updated 8 March 2022 + show all updates
Added link to Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
Updated age group information under 'details' section and added 'How to test a child for COVID-19 (PCR Home Test)' video.
Updated timetable to pre-hospital test instructions.
Added video demonstrating how to do a PCR home test, along with extra support information.
Added information about giving feedback about your test kit or reporting harm.
Added information on checking test kit contents and finding a priority postbox in Text only easy read version.
Updated 'Testing for COVID-19 before a hospital procedure' with information about courier collection.
Updated 'Testing for COVID-19 before a hospital procedure' to replace 119 phone number with 0800 0511 811.
Updated to remove the registration step from instructions and references of it in guidance and to reflect the changes in guidance around how patients should return their test kit.
Updated 'Testing for COVID-19 before a hospital procedure' attachment to remove the registration step from the instructions relating to the elective care testing service and change instructions on how to return test kits.
Added 'Elective care privacy notice'.
NHS helpline changed to 119.
Added Punjabi (Shahmukhi) translation of 'Testing for COVID-19 before a hospital procedure (easy read)'.
Added Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Gujerati, Hindi, Polish, Punjabi (Gurmukhi), Slovak, Somali, Urdu and Welsh translations of Testing for COVID-19 before a hospital procedure (easy read).
Added 'Testing for COVID-19 before a hospital procedure (easy read)'.
Added supporting guidance for testing before hospital treatment.