Coronavirus (COVID-19): How to do a lateral flow device (LFD) test at home

A LFD (lateral flow device) is a self-test for people who do not have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms.

You should take an LFD test twice a week (every 3 or 4 days).

Get LFD tests to do at home

There are now different types of LFD test being used in Scotland. Your test will involve either taking a swab from your:

Before taking an LFD test, you should always read the instructions that come with your test kit, as the test may be different to one you've used before.

Throat and nose swab test – plain NHS blue and white box

Do not eat or drink 30 minutes before taking the test.

You’ll need to swab both your tonsils (or where your tonsils would have been) and nose. If you’ve had a nosebleed in the last 24 hours, swab the other nostril or wait 24 hours from when the nosebleed stopped.

If you have a nose piercing, swab the other nostril. If you have a piercing on both sides, remove the piercing on the side you’re going to swab.

The fabric tip of the swab should not touch anything apart from the inside of your throat and nose.

plain blue and white box with NHS logo
Throat and nose swab test

Step by step instructions for throat and nose test
  1. Read the instructions that come with your test kit.
  2. Clean and dry a flat surface and wash or sanitise your hands before you start.
  3. Once you have removed the test strip from its packet, start the test within 30 minutes.
  4. Carefully open the extraction buffer sachet/tube.
  5. Open the extraction tube and pour in all the liquid.
  6. Close the cap and put the extraction tube in the holder
  7. Blow your nose.
  8. Clean your hands again.
  9. Remove the swab from the packet. Do not touch the fabric tip (soft part) of the swab.
  10. Open your mouth wide and rub the fabric tip over both tonsils (or where your tonsils would have been if you’ve had them removed). Do this 4 times on each side. It’s normal to find this a bit uncomfortable.
  11. Using the same swab, insert it up your nostril until you feel resistance.
  12. Rotate the swab in your nostril 10 times.
  13. Pick up the extraction tube, open the lid and place the fabric tip of the swab in the fluid in the tube.
  14. Firmly press the swab against the bottom-inside of the tube and rotate it around for 15 seconds. It’s important to mix thoroughly.
  15. Pinch the tube as you remove the swab and put the nozzle cap on.
  16. Squeeze the extraction tube to place two drops of fluid on the test strip. Watch out for any air bubbles.
  17. Set a timer for 30 minutes and leave the test strip on a clean, flat surface.
  18. Once your test is complete, place all used test kit contents in the waste bag provided and put this in your bin.

Your test result will show on the test strip 30 minutes after taking the test. You must read your result at exactly 30 minutes.

Nose only swab test – blue and white box (ACON Flowflex)

Step by step video for ACON Flowflex nose only swab test (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dk3LLAD7ybk)

If your LFD test says ACON Flowflex on the box, you’ll be swabbing your nose only.

The fabric tip of the swab should not touch anything apart from the inside of your nose.

blue and white box with Flowflex logo
ACON Flowflex nose only test

Do not eat or drink 30 minutes before taking the test.

Step by step instructions for ACON Flowflex nose only test
  1. Read the instructions that come with your test kit.
  2. Clean and dry a flat surface and wash or sanitise your hands before you start.
  3. Once you have removed the test strip from its packet, start the test within 30 minutes.
  4. Take the test strip out of the sealed bag and place it onto a clean flat surface.
  5. Carefully remove the aluminium foil lid from the top of extraction buffer tube.
  6. Put the extraction tube in the holder.
  7. Remove the swab from the packet. Do not touch the fabric tip (soft part) of the swab.
  8. Insert the entire fabric tip of the swab into one nostril. Using gentle rotation, push the swab less than 2.5cm from the edge of your nostril. It’s normal to find this a bit uncomfortable.
  9. Rotate the swab 5 times brushing against the inside of your nostril.
  10. Using the same swab, swab 5 times in the other nostril.
  11. Pick up the extraction buffer tube and place the fabric tip of the swab into the tube so it’s in the liquid. Press the tip against the edge of the extraction buffer tube with force, while rotating it around the tube for 30 seconds.
  12. Rotate the swab 5 times while squeezing the side of the tube.
  13. Pinch the tube as you remove the swab.
  14. Attach the dropper tip firmly onto the extraction buffer tube. Mix thoroughly by swirling or flicking the bottom of the tube.
  15. Gently squeeze the extraction buffer tube to place 4 drops of the liquid into the sample well on the test strip. Watch out for any air bubbles.
  16. Set a timer for 15 minutes and leave the test strip on a clean, flat surface.

Read the result when the timer reaches 15 minutes. Do not read your result after 30 minutes.

Nose only swab test – green and white box (Orient Gene)

Step by step video for Orient Gene nose only swab test (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDcEE071jeo)

If your LFD test comes in a green and white box, you’ll be swabbing your nose only. This type of test is called Orient Gene.

The fabric tip of the swab should not touch anything apart from the inside of your nose.

green and white box
Orient Gene nose only test
Step by step instructions for Orient Gene nose only test
  1. Read the instructions that come with your test kit.
  2. Clean and dry a flat surface and wash or sanitise your hands before you start.
  3. Keeping the tube away from your face, gently peel off the sealing film on the extraction tube to avoid spilling any liquid.
  4. Put the extraction tube in the holder.
  5. Blow your nose.
  6. Remove the swab from the packet. Do not touch the fabric tip (soft part) of the swab.
  7. Insert the fabric tip of the swab into one nostril, about 2.5cm from the edge of your nostril.
  8. Gently wipe the swab around the inside of your nostril in a circular motion 5 times. No force is needed and you do not have to push far into your nostril.
  9. Using the same swab, insert the fabric tip of the swab into your other nostril, about 2.5cm from the edge of your nostril.
  10. Place the fabric tip of the swab into the extraction tube liquid. Press the tip against the edge of the extraction tube with force, while rotating it around the tube at least 6 times.
  11. Leave the swab in the extraction tube for 1 minute.
  12. Take the swab out of the extraction tube and put the swab in the plastic waste bag.
  13. Push the nozzle cap tightly onto the extraction tube to avoid any leaks.
  14. Gently squeeze the extraction tube to place 4 drops of the liquid into the sample well on the test strip.
  15. Set a timer for 15 minutes and leave the test strip on a clean, flat surface.

Read the result when the timer reaches 15. Do not read your result after 20 minutes.

Test results

The time it takes for your result to appear depends on whether your test is a:

  • throat and nose swab – 30 minutes exactly
  • nose swab only (blue and white box) – between 15 and 30 minutes, but no longer than 30 minutes
  • nose swab only (green and white box) – 15 minutes, and no longer than 20 minutes

Report your result

Your LFD test is not complete until you report your result online or by phone, and you receive a result confirmation notification.

On the day an LFD test is taken you should report your result online.

You must report your test result, whether the result is positive negative or void.

Positive LFD result

If you have two lines (one next to C and one next to T), your LFD test is positive.

Positive LFD test with two lines (one next to C and one next to T)
Positive LFD test

If you or anyone in your household has a positive LFD result, everyone in the household must self-isolate immediately. If you need it, financial and practical support is available. You must book a PCR test within 48 hours to confirm the result.

Contact tracing will begin when you report a positive LFD test result.

If your follow-up PCR test is positive

If your follow-up PCR test is positive, you need to self-isolate for 10 days from your positive LFD test result. You should follow the advice of contact tracers.

Read household isolation guidance

If your follow-up PCR test is negative

If your follow-up PCR test is negative, you and your household can end self-isolation. You should continue to follow protective measures.

If you develop coronavirus symptoms you must self-isolate and book a PCR test.

Negative LFD result

If there is one line next to C (and no line next to T), your LFD test is negative.

Negative LFD test with one line next to C and no line next to T
Negative LFD test

A negative LFD test is not a guarantee that you do not have coronavirus. It only reflects a specific point in time. You should continue to follow protective measures.

If you develop coronavirus symptoms you must self-isolate and book a PCR test.

Void LFD result

If there is one line next to T (and no line next to C), or no lines, your test is void. This means your test did not run correctly.

Void LFD test with one line next to T (and no line next to C)
Void LFD test
Void LFD test with no lines showing
Void LFD test