Symptom-free testing

Staff and students on campus who do not have COVID-19 symptoms are strongly encouraged to get tested twice a week.

UCL is providing free COVID-19 tests for symptom-free staff and students as part of the national testing programme for universities. If you have symptoms, follow this guide to request a test and let UCL know through Connect to Protect.

By getting testing regularly, you are helping to reduce the spread of infection. We all have an important part to play in keeping our community safe and supporting the Government's plans to ease lockdown restrictions. 

UCL's testing centre at Bidborough House uses rapid Lateral Flow Tests (LFT), which typically provide results within two hours. Once you receive your results, whether positive or negative, please follow the steps below and use UCL's Connect to Protect reporting tool.

Find out more about the different COVID-19 tests in our guide. You can also look for a test centre near your home on the NHS website

Book an appointment at Bidborough House

Appointments are available weekdays 8.30am–3.00pm. If you can't attend the Bidborough House testing centre, please see below for alternative arrangements.

Book your coronavirus tests

Booking form privacy statement

The personal data you provide is being collected for the purpose of booking and managing your Asymptomatic COVID-19 Test. The information you provide will be used:

  • to record your booking and to send you text reminders of your appointment details
  • to send you text message reminders to record your test result in UCL’s Connect to Protect tool. Through Connect to Protect, we can provide you with further advice and support if this is required.
  • in relation to age and disability information, to manage your appointment and ensure the necessary support and adjustments are made 

The information you provide to book your test will only be shared with a restricted number of UCL staff members who require it as part of their role in managing the Asymptomatic testing service. The UCL staff who have access to your personal data will treat it in strict confidence. The personal data you provide will only be shared for the above purposes and will only be stored for as long as UCL requires it for these purposes, after which it will be deleted. 

For more information on the way UCL handles your personal data, as well as our legal basis for processing it and your rights as a data subject, please see the UCL Student privacy notice (in particular the section headed “Purposes for which we process your personal data > To manage the student experience at UCL and/or Internal and statutory reporting and other legal obligations”).

Please note that once you arrive for your appointment you will be required to register through the NHS registration system, where you will be allocated with a test and an NHS barcode. UCL does not have access to this system and will not process your personal data as part of that procedure. Once your test has been administered, your result will be automatically uploaded onto the NHS system. For more information on how the Department of Health and Social Care processes your personal data as part of that process, please see their privacy notice

How to get tested if you don't have symptoms 

Guidance for students:

Please book your tests through this form. You will need to log in with your UCL ID and password, complete the form and select and appointment. You will receive an email confirming your appointment time. 

When you return to campus in Term Two, you should take your first test as soon as possible within 24 hours, and a second test three days later. Taking two tests increases the likelihood that a positive infection is picked up as Lateral Flow Tests don’t detect every positive case, so you can be more confident when you’re returning to your accommodation and study spaces. 

If you can't book a test then you need to self-isolate for 10 days once you have arrived in London.

If you’re having problems booking your tests, please report the issue to IT Services.

Guidance for UCL and contracted staff working on campus:

Due to the current restrictions, anyone who can work remotely must do so.

Lateral Flow Tests (LFT)

Staff who are required to work on-site, and who do not have COVID-19 symptoms, are expected to get tested twice a week, ideally three days apart.

All UCL and all contracted staff within Estates and other services who are working on campus, and who do not have COVID-19 symptoms, are expected to get tested twice a week. Due to the rapid nature of these tests, please bear in mind where you will be when you receive your results, and how you plan to travel home. Ideally you should walk or cycle if possible. If you are a staff member it may be preferable to book a test at the end of your shift, so that you will receive your result when you are at home.

UCL staff can use their UCL UserID to book a test. Contracted staff who can access the LFT testing centre at Bidborough House should contact their line manager for more information.

If you have coronavirus symptoms you must not come to campus or the testing centre at Bidborough House, please follow these steps to request a test.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) home-tests

Contracted staff who are working at UCL but unable to attend the Bidborough House LFT testing centre during opening hours (weekdays 08.30am–3.00pm) can register to collect a PCR home test from the North Lodge. If this applies to you, please speak to your line manager. 

Those staff that are registered for symptom-free PCR testing due to working on the Royal Free or MSSL sites, or working night-shifts, are advised to take one PCR test a week.

Getting an LFT test if you don't live in Bloomsbury:

If you are not local to Bloomsbury and can’t use the UCL testing facility, you can check your local Council pages for access to community LFT testing, and the eligibility criteria that applies.

Examples include:

Guidance for staff working onsite away from campus:

We recognise that many of our staff that are required to work on-site are not based at the Main campus, or within close proximity of Bidborough House. UCL has also established local symptom-free testing arrangements for staff based at the Royal Free Campus and MSSL in Dorking, using our internal PCR facility in partnership with Health Services Laboratories (HSL)

Do I have to get tested? How often should I take a symptom-free Lateral Flow Test?

Students and staff who are required to work or study on campus are expected to take two tests each week, ideally three days apart. If you work or study part-time, please do not travel to campus solely for the purpose of getting a second Lateral Flow Test. If you would like to attend a second appointment, please check your local Council website for details of symptom-free community testing services near to where you live. If you do not have access to community testing and are only on campus once a week, please take a test immediately before you arrive on campus.

Students arriving in London who don't get tested should self-isolate for 10 days on arrival. 

If I receive a positive LFT result, do I need to get a confirmatory PCR test?

For information on how to interpret your test result, please see “what happens when you get your LFT results” below. Currently in England the policy is that confirmatory PCR is not required following a positive LFT test taken at a university or community site. The legal requirement to self-isolate will commence from the date of the positive LFT.

Can visitors to campus get tested for COVID-19 at UCL?

There should be no visitors on campus at this time, unless absolutely this is absolutely critical for UCL research or teaching. If it is essential for visitors to come onto campus, please note that they cannot access UCL's testing service. They may be eligible to use local council services instead.  

If I tested positive within the past 90 days, do I need to take an LFT test?

The Government has recently updated its guidelines. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 90 days through NHS Test and Trace and been recorded as a positive case on the national system, you do not need to be tested again within that time period if you are asymptomatic. You are still required to self-isolate if you are identified as a close contact of a positive case, even if this is within the 90 day window. You must also request a PCR test from the NHS if you develop new COVID-19 symptoms.

Book your coronavirus test

Lateral Flow Testing

What is a Lateral Flow Test?

Lateral Flow Tests detect the presence or absence of coronavirus using a sample from your nose and throat. You will be asked to take the swab yourself at the testing centre, then a trained member of staff will process the sample for you.  

The tests are safe and managed by NHS Test and Trace. They are much faster that the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) coronavirus tests that are usually provided by the NHS. You will typically receive your results from the NHS within two hours via text and email.

Lateral Flow Tests have already been piloted at a number of university sites, and the national testing programme for universities builds on what the Government has learned from these pilots. The tests have a sensitivity of 50-76.8% (compared to typically 95-99% for PCR tests), rising to over 95% for individuals with high viral loads, meaning that the majority of positive COVID-19 cases are detected, but not all. Therefore it is recommended that two tests are taken to increase the likelihood that the infection is detected.

Getting an LFT test at Bidborough House

Where to go for your tests

The testing centre is on the ground floor of Bidborough House at UCL. The address is: Bidborough House, 38-50 Bidborough Street, London, WC1H 9BT. Find Bidborough House on UCL Maps and Google Maps. Please access the building through the entrance on Bidborough Street. We are operating a one-way system and you will exit onto Mabledon Place.

Bidborough House is accessible for wheelchair users. If you have any additional access needs, such as a BSL interpreter, please contact UCL's Student Support and Wellbeing team via askUCL or call +44 (0)20 7679 0100 before you book your test so we can make sure you have the support you need.

If you need to travel to UCL, we encourage you to cycle or walk if you can. See our Cycle and Walk pages for more advice on getting to campus. If you’re using public transport, read the advice for safer travel from the UK Government and Transport for London. You might want to consider travelling at off-peak times, using quieter stations and booking tickets in advance or paying by contactless if you can. 

What to expect at the testing centre 

Please wear a face covering and remember to follow social distancing guidelines at the testing centre. You will also be asked to wash your hands with sanitiser when you get there.

You should arrive at the testing centre via the entrance on Bidborough Street at your appointment time. Signage will direct you to where you need to go. You will be guided through the registration and testing process by members of the team. 

What to bring:
  • A form of student/staff ID
  • Your phone, tablet or laptop to register when you arrive (which involves scanning a QR code). If you do not have one of these then a staff member at the site will be on hand to help you.
    • Please do not register with an international phone number as this may be problematic when using the NHS Test and Trace service and delay your results. If you don't have a UK number then please register with your UCL email only, or alternatively you can request a free UK SIM card from the testing centre.   
  • A face covering or mask that covers your mouth and nose. Staff will tell you when you can take it off and put it back on again.

Please don't bring luggage or bulky items with you, as we do not have space to store it while you take your test.

What the process will involve: 
  • At registration, you will be asked to scan a QR code to register with the NHS Lateral Flow Testing programme.
  • You will be directed to an available booth where you will be provided with a swab and a barcode.
  • You will be asked to take a swab of your nose and throat. A trained member of staff will be on hand to help you.
  • A staff member will collect your sample and barcode from you.
  • You will then leave the testing centre through the exit onto Mabledon Place. 
Infographic: How the tests work

Infographic showing how LFT tests work
What is a Lateral Flow Test?


What happens when you get your LFT results

You will typically receive the results from the NHS within two hours via email and text, but this could take up to 48 hours. If you do not receive your results, or you need advice on your result, please call the NHS coronavirus testing contact centre on 119. Lines are open from 7am to 11pm. Please note that you are not able to call NHS 119 from an international number. Quote the barcode reference number from the registration card that you were given when you took the test and NHS Test and Trace should be able to locate their result using this code. You should go for your second test as planned. 

Whether you have tested negative or positive, it is important that you report your results to UCL through Connect to Protect. This will help us provide you with any support you need. 

If the results of your first test are negative: 

Please book a second test through this form. The second test should be taken three days after your first test. 

If the results of your first or second test are positive and you are a student: 

If you test positive in line with NHS guidance you and everyone in your household should self-isolate from the day you get the result and for the next 10 full days, even if a subsequent PCR test result comes back negative.

You will then be asked to complete contact tracing details on the NHS website or by telephone. It is also essential that you report your results through Connect to Protect so UCL can provide you with support while you’re self-isolating.

More information about self-isolating is available on the NHS website

The science behind self-isolating if you have coronavirus

MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/aDJFcG2I

If the results of your first or second test are positive and you are a member of staff: 
  1. You must immediately report your positive test results to your line manager and report this through Connect to Protect at the earliest opportunity.
  2. If you receive your test result while in the workplace please make arrangements to travel home avoiding other people and public transport if you can. If you need help with your travel arrangements please discuss this with your line manager. If you do use public transport, wear a face covering, stay 2 metres apart from other people and avoid touching any surfaces. Use hand gel frequently throughout the journey and where possible avoid busier stations. Avoid touching your face or adjusting your face mask. Read more about travelling safely.
  3. If the line manager or any work colleagues are concerned they are a potential contact and are not symptomatic they should book an LFT appointment. If there are any issues with availability they should contact the Connect to Protect team by email to uclcovidtesting@ucl.ac.uk to request a priority appointment.
  4. In line with NHS guidance you and everyone in your household should self-isolate from the day you get the result and for the next 10 full days, even if a subsequent PCR test result comes back negative.
  5. You will be asked to complete contact tracing details on the NHS website or by telephone. It is also essential that you report your PCR test result through Connect to Protect so UCL can provide you with support while you’re self-isolating and follow up with any UCL contacts.
  6. If you have any questions please email uclcovidtesting@ucl.ac.uk or call the UCL Covid Helpline on 0203 108 5699. Lines are open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday. Please let us know when you have recovered if you develop symptoms and do stay in touch if you need any help.
If the results of both your first and second test are negative: 

You are highly unlikely to have COVID-19 at the time of taking the tests. If you have not been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive (e.g. someone you live with) then you can continue as normal according to current Tier restrictions. 

Please remember that Lateral Flow Tests don’t detect every positive case and your results only reflect your status at the time of taking the test. You must keep following the safety guidelines to help keep everyone safe on campus. 

Do I need to self-isolate between the two tests? 

No, not if the results of your first test were negative, but please note that a negative result only reflects your status at the time of taking the test. Please ensure you follow social distancing between tests. 

If you need support

Students can contact us though the askUCL student enquiries system. Alternatively you can email covidhelpline@ucl.ac.uk and if you would like to speak to someone on the phone, please call our helpline on 0203 108 5699. Lines are open 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.

If you are staying in UCL halls, our Accommodation team can help. Find out more on the UCL Accommodation website or email or phone your hall team.