Coronavirus (COVID-19): Testing

Testing is part of the national Test and Protect approach to containing coronavirus (COVID-19).

There are test centres across Scotland for people with and without symptoms. You can also get tests to do at home.

You can get a test for:

  • yourself
  • someone you care for
  • a child in your care

Types of coronavirus test

The 2 types of coronavirus test currently being used regularly are:

  • polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
  • lateral flow device (LFD) – also known as a rapid test

PCR tests

If you have symptoms, book a PCR test.

You should also book a PCR test if:

  • you’ve been asked to get a test by a health protection team
  • you’ve been asked to get a test to confirm a positive result
  • you’ve been identified as a close contact through Test and Protect or the Protect Scotland app

PCR tests detect the genetic material of a virus and are the most reliable coronavirus tests. It usually takes up to 48 hours to get the results because they are processed in a laboratory.

Find out how to do a PCR test at home and get advice on your test result

LFD tests – also known as rapid tests

LFD tests detect proteins in coronavirus. They are simple and quick to use, so are sometimes called rapid tests. LFD tests are not as accurate as PCR tests and are mainly used in people who do not have symptoms.

Everyone in Scotland can do this type of test twice a week.

If you have a positive LFD test, you must self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test within 48 hours.

Find out how to do a rapid LFD test at home and get advice on your test result

Antibody tests

Antibody testing is being used in Scotland for population research and, where appropriate, clinical management of patients. You can request an antibody test, but this will be at the discretion of your clinician and depend on whether this will affect your treatment or clinical management.

Antibody tests can show if you have had the virus, but a positive test does not mean you are immune from further infection or from being able to infect others. If you have recovered from a coronavirus infection you should continue to follow physical distancing measures and self-isolation advice if you develop new symptoms to protect others.

GOV.UK has further information about antibody testing for coronavirus

Proof of a negative test for overseas travel

You won’t be tested if you need to prove you don’t have coronavirus as a condition of travel.

If you need to travel for work and require evidence of a test, speak to your occupational health adviser.

Read further information about testing for people travelling to Scotland


You can provide feedback or make a complaint about your coronavirus testing experience by emailing NHS National Services Scotland.

Further information