There are 36 test centres nationwide. Most also offer a drive-through service. The test takes about 15 minutes.
Read about the COVID-19 walk-in testing service if do not have symptoms and want a test.
While you wait to go for your test appointment, you should behave as if you have the virus and self-isolate (stay in your room). People in your household will need to restrict their movements (stay at home).
Getting to a test centre
Try and avoid other people as much as possible when going to your test appointment.
Use your own means to get to the test centre, for example by car, bicycle or on-foot. Do not use public transport. If you are on foot, follow social distancing guidelines.
If you do not feel well enough to drive to the test centre, a family member or a friend can drive you. If possible, it’s best to ask someone you live with or have been in contact with in the last couple of days. You and your driver should follow advice on how to protect against the spread of the virus during your journey.
If you have a child who has an appointment to be tested, you can drive them.
At most test centres you will be asked to park and remain in your car. You may need to walk from your car into the test centre. Follow the advice of test centre staff.
Do not go to a test centre unless you have an appointment - you will not be seen.
- A staff member will meet you when you arrive - if you came by car, park and remain in your car.
- The staff member will give you a mask to put on, explain what will happen, ask you some questions and take you into the test centre.
- You will be asked to use hand sanitiser to clean your hands properly.
- Healthcare staff will take some personal details from you including your phone number. This is so you can be contacted with your results. Make sure they have your correct phone number.
- A healthcare worker will take a sample from inside the back of your throat and nose using a swab. This may be uncomfortable but it won't be painful. Children under 13 years old will only need to give a nasal swab sample.
- We will send your sample to a lab for testing.
- You will drive home and keep self-isolating.
Drive-through test centre
Some test centres offer a drive-through service. These test centres are primarily for car users, but they will also see you if you arrive on foot or by bicycle.
Do not go to a drive-through test centre unless you have an appointment - you will not be seen otherwise.
- Drive to the centre.
- Stay in your car at all times.
- Follow the signs and the directions of staff.
- A healthcare worker will ask you to open your window.
- They will give you a mask to put on.
- They'll direct you to a test bay to take your test sample - do not get out of the car.
- One healthcare worker will take your personal details - this is so we can contact you with your results. Make sure they have your correct phone number.
- Another will take two swabs from inside the back of your throat and nose - this may be uncomfortable but it won't be painful. Children under 13 years old will only need to give a nasal swab sample.
- You will drive home and keep self-isolation.
Testing in your home
If your medical condition makes you unable to attend a test centre, a GP may request a home test for you. But they will only consider a home test based on your medical need. Home tests are only provided for those who are most in need of them.
If your GP makes this request:
- A healthcare worker will call to your home with a testing kit.
- They will use a swab to take a sample from inside the back of your throat and nose. Children under 13 years old will only need to give a nasal swab sample.
- You will be asked to give them some personal details - this is so we can contact you with your results. Make sure they have your correct phone number.
If someone is driving you to a test centre
Go to your test appointment on the day and time you are given. If you cannot drive yourself, a family member or a friend can drive you. If possible, it’s best to ask someone you live with or have been in contact with in the last couple of days.
Everyone in the car should:
- wear a face covering at all times and bin or wash it after you get home
- wash their hands before and after the journey
Only the driver and the person or people being tested should be in the car.
Do not make any unnecessary stops on your trip to and from the test centre.
The inside of the car should be cleaned after the journey with warm water and a disinfectant spray or detergent.
Keeping everyone safe
As well as wearing a face covering and washing your hands before and after the journey you should:
- ask the driver to open the door for you
- avoid touching surfaces within the car but do remember to put on your seatbelt
- sit in the back of the car, as much of a distance as possible away from the driver
- keep a window in the car open, if possible
- bring tissues in case you need to sneeze or blow your nose - safely bin any used tissues at the test centre or at home
If you do not live with the driver, arrange a time for them to collect you. Ask them to wait in their car until you are ready. The driver should not enter your home unless you need assistance getting to the car.
Last updated: 21 December 2020 at 9.25am