Test to release for international travel

COVID-19 testing during lockdown

The College has established a gold standard testing service which can detect COVID-19 including the new variant. Whilst rates of infection in London are high, regular testing is essential for all staff and students who are required to attend campus during the lockdown and for all students living in halls.

You are expected to take a test when you return to campus, and minimise social contact until a negative test result has been confirmed. If you are travelling to England from a location outside the travel corridor, you will need to self-isolate when you arrive.

After that, book weekly tests if you continue to attend campus and/or live in halls. Tests are available to book 15 days in advance.

There is an exception to this: if you have tested positive for COVID-19, you should NOT book another test during your isolation period or for 90 days after the positive test unless you develop new COVID-19 symptoms. Please see more information below under 'Can I book another test if I have tested positive?'.

Updated 15 January 2021

Imperial is running a COVID-19 testing scheme for staff and students who are asymptomatic.  

If you have symptoms, please do not book a test through this scheme and do not come onto campus. Instead please follow the NHS advice to book a test.  

If you are self-isolating following overseas travel from a location outside the travel corridor, please do not book a test through this scheme.

Why is Imperial offering testing?

The testing scheme has two aims:  

  1. to estimate the prevalence of asymptomatic/pre-symptomatic infection in staff and students who are on campus  
  2. to identify cases of asymptomatic/pre-symptomatic infection so that those people can promptly isolate and so reduce transmission.  

Who can book a test?  

Any Imperial student or staff member can book a test as long as: 

  • you are asymptomatic – that is, you do not have symptoms of COVID-19; and
  • you have not been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive for the virus or is displaying symptoms of the virus; and
  • you are working or studying on-campus.

This means that if you have been advised to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the College's COVID-19 Contact Tracing Hub, you are not eligible to book a test. 

How do I book a test?

Please book a test via the testing form. By booking a test, you consent to your data being shared as outlined below.  

You will be asked to enter your CID, date of birth, telephone number and address. Please ensure all your details are correct if you need a confirmation of negative test result for travel - it is not possible to change them later. 

You will then be able to select a location, a date and a 15 minute slot for your test.

You will receive an email confirmation once you have booked a test. You may need to check your junk or spam folder.

Who will have access to my test result?

Your test results and personal data will be stored by the College for up to eight years, in line with healthcare standards and other College requirements. View the Privacy Notice [pdf] for full details of how we will collect and use personal information about you. 

If your test result is positive, please follow the instructions on the COVID-19 Contact Tracing Hub webpage to notify the hub of your test result.  

In addition, COVID-19 is a notifiable disease – it is a statutory requirement for positive tests to be reported to Public Health England (PHE). This means that if your test result is positive, your details will also be passed on to PHE to allow the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing process to be activated.  

The testing form isn’t accessible to me – how can I book a test? 

Imperial is currently carrying out accessibility testing on different aspects of the test booking website and is committed to making the site accessible in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018. 

Once this accessibility testing is complete, we will publish the details with any areas of the website which do not meet accessibility standards. 

In the meantime, if you are not able to book a test using the form, please email covidtestenquiries@imperial.ac.uk and someone from the team will help you to book your test.  

I can no longer attend my booked testing session - what should I do?

If your plans change and you no longer need or cannot attend your booked testing session, please cancel your test by clicking the ‘change/cancel appointment’ link in your booking confirmation email.

This means we’ll be able to offer your slot to someone else - sessions can be reallocated up to 30 minutes before they start.

What do I need to do when I come for my test?

Please review the self-swabbing method in this video before you attend your test session. 

Please wear a face covering in line with College guidance. Please arrive within your booked slot to avoid queuing. If you do need to wait, please maintain social distancing. 

A test facilitator will ask for your name and CID number. They will invite you to collect a tube, swab and plastic specimen bag, and then proceed to an individual testing station where you will self-administer the test. 

How do I get my test results?

You will receive an email within two working days prompting you to log in to view your test results.

If your result is ‘detected’, this means that you have tested positive for COVID-19.

If your result is ‘not detected’, this means that you have tested negative for COVID-19.

If your result is 'inadequate', this means that there was insufficient material from the swab for a result. Please book another test via the testing form

What happens if I test positive?

Please see the CCT Hub webpage for guidance on what you need to do.  

Can I book another test if I have tested positive?

Please do not book another test during your isolation period or for 90 days after this, unless you develop new COVID-19 symptoms.
This is because the PCR test can remain positive (due to fragments of inactive virus) for up to 90 days after infection. This does not mean that you are still infectious, so once any fever has settled and you have completed the required isolation period you can attend campus. 
A negative test during isolation will not mean that you are no longer infectious, and will not allow you to end isolation early or travel during this period.

Can I book another test if I have tested negative? 

Yes. All students living in halls and students and staff who are required to attend campus during the lockdown should book weekly tests. 

Additional information

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 on our website. Visit the COVID-19 testing data page

I’ve heard Imperial is offering antibody tests - is this true?

We are inviting staff and students who book a COVID-19 test through Imperial’s testing scheme to participate in an unrelated COVID-19 study. Initially this will only be available to those who book a test at the Princes Garden Test Centre on the South Kensington Campus. Taking part is completely voluntary and does not affect your booked COVID-19 test, and no identifiable data will be provided to anyone from this study, including your employer or education provider.  

The study would involve taking a lateral flow antibody test which indicates whether you have been exposed to COVID-19 in the past and developed antibodies: you will be asked to collect a kit, do a finger-prick test at home and answer some questions about yourself.  

The study is part of the REACT programme run by Imperial that has used this approach in over 500,000 members of the public to date. The results will help to plan university services for the next year and support Public Health England efforts to understand levels of previous infection in university staff and students.   

You will be offered the chance to take part in the study via email once you have booked your COVID-19 test.

Are the College tests accepted for international travel?

When should I not use this scheme for testing? 

If testing is required because you have developed COVID-19 symptoms then you should remain off campus and report your symptoms as laid out on the CCT Hub webpage. You should book a test through the NHS Test and Trace Scheme.  

The testing scheme should not be used if you have been informed by NHS Test and Trace or the CCT Hub that you are a close contact of a positive case, as a negative COVID-19 test does not shorten self-isolation.  

If testing is required for travel purposes, please view the FAQ ‘Will the College COVID-19 test be accepted for certification for international travel?’ on the status page.

I am a clinical staff member and receive testing through an NHS or other scheme – should I also volunteer for a test through this scheme?

If you are a clinical staff member who is receiving testing via your relevant Trust or other provider, you are not excluded from also participating in this scheme, but it is strongly recommended that you comply with the one scheme relevant to your main workplace.  

How accurate are the tests?

The viral PCR tests that we use have a high sensitivity and specificity, but no test is 100 per cent accurate. Many factors can affect accuracy, and these include the timing of the test, how the swab was taken and how it was handled thereafter.  

I have more questions – who can I ask?

If you have questions about Imperial’s testing scheme that have not been addressed, please email covidtestenquiries@imperial.ac.uk.