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

A lateral flow device (LFD) test usually involves taking a sample from your throat and nose using a swab. You can get a result in 30 minutes.

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

Get rapid LFD tests to do at home

Step by step instructions

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.

Follow these steps if you’re doing a rapid LFD test at home.

  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.

Test results

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

Report your result

Each time a LFD test is taken at home you should report your result online. You should report your result on the day you take the test. You must report your test result, whether the result is positive negative or void.

Positive 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 tests positive, everyone in the household must self-isolate immediately. 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 test result.

Negative 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 must continue to follow the latest government advice.

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

Void 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

You should take another LFD test using a new test kit – do not reuse anything from the first kit.

If your test fails for a second time, you should book a PCR test. You do not need to self-isolate after 2 void results, but you must continue to follow the latest government advice.

Further information