COVID-19: Testing & Tracing

Which COVID-19 test should I get?  

PCR Tests

You are eligible for a PCR Test if: 

  • You have COVID-19 symptoms
  • You have been in contact with someone who has tested positive
  • You have been asked to get a test by a local council or someone from NHS test and trace
  • A GP or other health professional has asked you to get a test
  • You are taking part in a government pilot project
  • You have been asked to get a test to confirm a positive result
  • You have received an unclear result and were told to get a second test
  • You need to get a test for someone you live with who has symptoms
  • You are in the National Tactical Response Group

You can order a PCR test kit to be sent to your home by following this link or book an appointment at a walk-in or drive-through test site (there is more information on these test sites further down the page).

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you and everyone you live with has to self-isolate, you must order a home test kit, and you can only leave your house to attend a PCR test appointment or to post a test kit.

Rapid Lateral Flow Tests

You are eligible for a Rapid Lateral Flow Test if: 

  • You have no symptoms
  • You are not eligible for a PCR test
  • You are 11 or older
  • You cannot get tests from your work, school, college or university

You will receive the result from your test in 30 minutes. A device similar to a pregnancy test is used and does not need to be sent to a lab. You can order a pack of 7 rapid lateral flow tests to be sent to your home by following this link. 

About 1 in 3 people who have COVID-19 do not show symptoms, to help slow the spread it is important that people get tested regularly as this will help to contain the virus. Taking 2 tests a week will help get the virus under control, especially as we start to socialise more. If you test positive you must self-isolate. 

If you need advice on what to do if you are told to self-isolate, you can find out more on the NHS website.

If you are returning to the UK from abroad, you are not eligible for a free COVID-19 test. You must book a test from a private provider. You can find out more about the private providers by clicking here.

What does the test involve?

The test usually involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud.

You can do the swab yourself (if you are aged 12 or over) or someone can do it for you. Children aged 11 or under cannot do the swab themselves. Their parent or guardian will have to swab test them.

Help with asking for a test

To get help with asking for a test, call 119 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland, from 7am-11pm.

If you're having problems getting a test, please see answers to common questions about asking for a test.

Where are my nearest test sites?

There are three NHS test sites in Camden: 

  1. Ramsay Hall, 20 Maple Street, W1T 5HB (indoors, no step-free access) - no booking required, open 8am- 1.30pm for PCR testing
  2. Kingsgate Community Centre, 107 Kingsgate Rd, West Hampstead, London NW6 2JH (indoors, step-free access) - no booking required, open 8am-1.30pm for PCR testing
  3. 51 Greenwood Place, NW5 1LB (outdoors, step-free access. Enter from the O2 Forum end of Greenwood Place and it will be in front of you. If you drive, you'll find it on the second corner you reach. The test site is not at the Greenwood Centre so please do not enter that building).

For information on Rapid Lateral Flow test and collection sites, you can use this map.

Test and trace map Camden

NHS Test & Trace

In England, you’ll be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service if you test positive for COVID-19.

You'll be asked where you've been recently and who you've been in close contact with.

This will help the NHS contact anyone who may have caught the virus from you.

How you'll be contacted

You'll be contacted by email, text or phone.

  • Text messages will come from the NHS. Calls will come from 0300 0135 000.

Children under 18 will be contacted by phone wherever possible and asked for their parent or guardian's permission to continue the call.

What you'll be asked to do

On the contact tracing website, you'll be asked for information including:

  • your name, date of birth and postcode
  • if you live with other people
  • any places you've been recently, such as a workplace or school
  • names and contact details of any people you were in close contact with in the 48 hours before your symptoms started (if you know these details)

If you cannot use the contact tracing website, you'll be asked for this information over the phone.


The NHS Test and Trace service WILL NOT:

  • ask for bank details or payments
  • ask for details of any other accounts, such as social media
  • ask you to set up a password or PIN number over the phone
  • ask you to call a premium rate number, such as those starting 09 or 087

How your information will be used

All information you provide to the NHS Test and Trace service is confidential.

No one who is contacted will be told your identity.

Anyone you've been in close contact with will be told to stay at home (self-isolate) for 14 days. This is because it can take up to 14 days for COVID-19 symptoms to appear.

NHS COVID-19 app

Protect your loved ones. Download the app.

The free NHS COVID-19 app is a vital part of the NHS Test and Trace service in England, and the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect service. It is the fastest way to see if you're at risk from COVID-19. The faster you know, the quicker you can alert and protect your loved ones and community!

The app has a number of tools to protect you, including contact tracing, local area alerts and venue check-in. It uses proven technology from Apple and Google, designed to protect every user’s privacy. Read more about the NHS COVID-19 app protects your data and privacy.

Video: Introducing the NHS COVID-19 app

What the NHS COVID-19 app does

  1. Trace - Get alerted if you've been near other app users
  2. Alert - Know your level of COVID-19 risk in your postcode district
  3. Check-in -  Scan the official NHS QR code at venues you enter  
  4. Symptoms - Check your symptoms and see if you need to order a free test
  5. Test - Get help with booking a test and receiving your result
  6. Isolate - Keep track of your self-isolation countdown and access relevant advice

Download the NHS COVID-19 app

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Further information

Last updated: May 6th 2021