COVID-19 testing guidance for staff and students
Imperial offers two different asymptomatic testing options which are both free for students and staff.
If you are attending campus and/or you live in halls of residence, you will be required to take weekly tests.
If you choose to use the PCR testing scheme, you should take one test per week.
If you choose to use LFD Collect, the collection service for testing at home, you should take two tests per week.
There are three exceptions to the need for weekly testing:
- If you have symptoms, do not take a test through our schemes and do not come onto campus. Instead please follow the NHS advice to book a test.
- If you have been advised to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the College's COVID-19 Contact Tracing Hub, you should not take a test through our schemes.
- If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you must NOT take another test during your isolation period or for 90 days after the positive test unless you develop new COVID-19 symptoms.
How do I report my tests?
|Type of test||How do I report my result?|
|LFD test – negative result|
|LFD test – positive result|
College PCR test – negative result
|College PCR test – positive result||
|NHS or private PCR test – negative result||
|NHS or private PCR test – positive result||
What are the other differences between the College's two options for weekly testing?
|PCR testing scheme||LFD Collect|
|You must book a testing slot in advance||You visit one of our collection points or order via the government website|
|You take the test at one of our testing sessions||You take the test at home|
|You usually receive the results within 36 working hours of when the test was taken||You receive the results in 30 minutes|
|You must report positive results to the COVID-19 Contact Tracing Hub||You must report all results via the ‘COVID Rapid testing reporting’ form on MyImperial and to the NHS, as well as reporting positive results to the COVID-19 Contact Tracing Hub|
|You should take one test per week||You should take two tests per week|
Frequently asked questions
I have been vaccinated - do I still need to take weekly tests?
Yes - if you are attending campus regularly, you should continue to take weekly tests.
I am a student travelling to Imperial from within the UK - what testing do I need to do?
Testing is an important way of reducing the risk of transmission following movement of students across the country. You should test before you travel to Imperial by ordering free lateral flow device (LFD) tests online or collecting from your local pharmacy.
Once you arrive at Imperial, you should take two LFD tests three to four days apart. If you are living in Imperial halls of residence, you will find a batch of tests in your room. Otherwise, you can pick up free tests from one of our collection points on campus or order free tests online. You must log your test results on the NHS webpage and on the COVID Rapid Testing reporting form on MyImperial.
Regular testing will enable us to continue offering in-person teaching and keep College facilities open. If you are attending campus and/or you live in halls of residence, you will be required to take weekly tests.
Can I book another test if I have tested positive?
A PCR test will nearly always return a positive result from your previous COVID-19 diagnosis meaning you'll then have to self-isolate again despite no longer being infectious.
As per the government's guidelines, an LFD test will only show as positive if you are newly infectious with COVID-19.
Where do I find data on the number of positive tests at the College?
We publish anonymous data daily (Monday to Friday) on the total number of positive tests reported to the College. Visit the COVID-19 testing data page.
What is the testing advice for attending social events?
Government advice states that you may wish to take a rapid lateral flow test if it is expected that there will be a period of high risk that day. You are at higher risk of catching or passing on COVID-19 in crowded and enclosed spaces, where there are more people who might be infectious and where there is limited fresh air.
The most common cause of transmission among Imperial’s community is off-campus social activities. With Christmas festivities around the corner, you should take a lateral flow device (LFD) test on the day, before you go to a party or meet up with friends.
A COVID infection can start with mild cold-like symptoms. If you experience symptoms such as a headache or sore throat, you should not come to campus or attend events, even if you have a negative test result.
If you are organising a face-to-face event, including seasonal celebrations towards the end of the calendar year, you should have contingency plans and appropriate cancellation arrangements in place. You should ask all attendees to take a lateral flow device (LFD) test on the day of the event, and to not attend if they have any symptoms.