UCL Coronavirus Testing

We have established an internal Covid-19 testing facility. This page provides guidance on who is eligible for a PCR test, how to obtain a test, what your results mean and the support available to you.

Please note that UCL’s PCR service is currently closed and will reopen shortly. You can continue to request a PCR test from the NHS during this time. 

UCL has established a COVID-19 Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing facility, in partnership with Health Services Laboratories (HSL). This service is directly linked to NHS Test and Trace in support of the national testing programme. 

A COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test checks to see if you have the COVID-19 virus at the time that you take the test. It detects the genetic material in the virus called RNA. 

Who is it for?

Our PCR service is primarily for symptomatic students in Halls. We are also able to offer tests to symptomatic staff or students on campus that are unable to obtain an NHS Test. 

We are not able to provide PCR tests for: 

Getting a test

If you think you may have coronavirus, follow our step-by-step guide to reporting a potential case and register your symptoms through UCL Connect to Protect. Once you have registered for a UCL test, you should self-isolate in line with NHS guidance

Please note that UCL’s PCR service is currently closed and will reopen shortly. You can continue to request a PCR test from the NHS during this time. 

If you are a student, a member of the Student Support and Wellbeing team will be in touch to make sure you have any support that you need. If you have been on campus, a member of the Connect to Protect team will also contact you to discuss any contacts you may have had.  

If you are a member of staff, please notify your manager and advise them you have reported through UCL Connect to Protect, and they will provide further guidance. If you have been on campus a member of the Connect to Protect team will contact you discuss any contacts you may have had. 

How it works

You don't need to come to campus for a test – your self-test kit will be delivered to your residence. 

UCL’s test is similar to that provided through the NHS. It is a self-test kit which includes a dry swab that you use to take a sample from the back of your throat and nose. Please follow the full written instructions provided with your kit and watch Dr Amir Khan’s demonstration for more help. 

Once you have taken your sample your kit should be parcelled securely in the yellow pre-paid envelope according to the enclosed instructions. If you are a student in UCL Halls you will be advised about the process for collection when recieving your test.

If you are a member of staff you should deposit your sample in one of over 30,000 specially selected Royal Mail priority post-boxes. You can find your nearest priority postbox on Services Near You or on the Royal Mail app. If you need help locating a priority postbox you can also telephone 0345 266 8038.   

Your test results

You will receive your test result by a text message to your mobile phone. Please refer to the NHS guidance for a full explanation of what your result means. Any positive tests will be automatically reported to NHS Test and Trace through our diagnostic partner lab. 

Please also ensure that you notify UCL of your result by updating your details through UCL Connect to Protect to help monitor and respond to coronavirus cases at UCL and support our local public health authorities.

In the unusual event that you receive an inconclusive result, this means it was not possible to say if you had coronavirus when the test was done. The NHS guidelines request you to take another test as soon as possible, which you can request. While self-isolation is not essential, UCL requests that you do not come back onto campus until your repeat test result is returned with negative results. 

When to expect your test results

Self-test kits are despatched by the UCL Testing team Monday-Saturday. Self-test kits sent to student Halls should arrive within 24 hours and self-tests kits sent to staff residential addresses will be sent by first class post. 

Those that return their samples using the UCL Hall collection service will typically receive results within 2-4 working days of drop-off. If you do not receive your results by day 5, please contact the UCL testing team

Those that return their samples by Royal Mail typically receive results within 3-5 working days. If you do not receive your results by day 6, please contact the UCL testing team.

The UCL lab operates Monday-Friday, and therefore please note that samples returned on a Friday will not be tested until the following week.

Take part in a UCL-sponsored clinical trial

UCL staff and students are now eligible for places on the FLARE study, a UCL-sponsored clinical trial of early antiviral treatments for COVID-19 using a combination of two drugs: favipiravir and lopinavir/ritonavir. If you are aged 18-70 years old and in the first week of illness with COVID-19 and interested in participating in the FLARE clinical trial, please get in touch with the research team at: d.lowe@ucl.ac.uk or li-an.brown@ucl.ac.uk. Find out more about the trial.