Covid: Where can I get a lateral flow test?

New Year’s Eve revellers urged to take lateral flow tests before partying, but supplies remain squeezed

Kate Ng
Wednesday 29 December 2021 15:14
How to take a lateral flow test

High demand for lateral flow tests has resulted in supply issues, with many people unable to get their hands on the kits in recent days and pharmacies warning of “huge problems” with kit deliveries.

It comes as prime minister Boris Johnson urged revellers to take a coronavirus test ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “What our members are telling us is that demand for the lateral flow tests is very high at the moment due to the current guidelines around self-isolation.

“Pharmacies are reporting that every five minutes, approximately, somebody comes in to the pharmacy asking for a test.

“But, unfortunately, because of the issues around supply being patchy and inconsistent, it means that those who come for the test don’t always get it, which is very stressful not just for the pharmacy team but for the patient.

“The scale of the problem is huge because the demand is high, because of the current guidelines.”

The government’s website for ordering lateral flow test kits currently shows a message telling people there are “no home delivery slots left for rapid lateral flow tests right now”.

So where else can you get a lateral flow test?

Check the NHS website

The spokesperson for the UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) said: “Everyone who needs a lateral flow test can collect test kits – either at their local pharmacy, some community sites and some schools and colleges.”

The NHS website has a feature that can help you find a pharmacy, library, or other participating venue that may have lateral flow tests.

You can type in your postcode and the finder feature will show you the pick-up sites where you can collect at-home test kits close to your search location.

However, considering Hannbeck’s warning that pharmacies are experiencing lateral flow kit supply problems, it may be a good idea to call ahead and ask before going to collect them.


You can pick up a lateral flow test kit from most Boots pharmacies in England, Wales and Scotland to be taken home.

Boots also offers an in-store lateral flow testing service, at the cost of £30 for the 15-minute appointment. To use this service, you must fill in a registrations form, provide photo ID and enter your payment details on the ReCoVa-19 portal before you can book an appointment online at your selected Boots store.

The website says: “Full payment will only be taken once you arrive in store for your appointment. Once your result is ready, you’ll get an email or a text message to let you know your results are ready to view.”

Find out more about in-store testing here.

Go to a test site

You can get tested at a rapid lateral flow test site, which are usually run by your local council.

These sites are usually located in community town halls and car parks. Many are walk-in sites, where you can turn up at any time and get tested, although you may have to wait for some time in a queue, while others require you to book an appointment.

You can find a test site by typing your postcode into the NHS Covid-19 test and vaccination site finder, which is the same feature used to find test pick-up locations.

Check the government website every few hours

The UKHSA has said tests may be temporarily unavailable on the government website at points throughout the day due to “exceptionally high demand” and urged people not to order more tests before using the ones they have.

A spokesperson said: “During periods of exceptional demand there may be temporary pauses in ordering or receiving tests, to ensure we manage distribution across the system and support changing requirements for LFD and PCR tests.

“Reduced postal schedules also impact on delivery capacity over the Christmas period.

“Rapid tests are available to order directly to people’s homes via and availability is refreshed regularly throughout the day.

“We encourage people to re-visit the site every few hours if they are unable to order tests as more will become available - and to please ensure they are making use of any tests they already have at home before ordering or collecting more.”

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