PCR testing scheme
Students testing before travelling home
All students leaving Imperial to travel home at the end of term should undertake a PCR test before they travel. This is at the direction of our local authority. The exception is if you have tested positive within the last 90 days, in which case please do not book an end of term test - please see the FAQ 'Can I book another test if I have tested positive?' for more information.
If you are attending campus regularly and/or you live in halls of residence and you choose to use the PCR testing scheme, you should take one test per week.
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 as it is not possible to change them after the certificate has been issued.
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 committed to making the site accessible in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 and has carried out accessibility testing on different aspects of the test booking website and implemented fixes where possible. You can view a statement detailing areas of the website which do not meet accessibility standards.
If you are not able to book a test using the form, please email firstname.lastname@example.org 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. Please ensure you do not cancel your appointment on the confirmation page immediately after booking, as this may prevent any new booking from going through successfully.
Cancelling your test 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 quickly will I get my test result?
We aim to have test results ready within 36 working hours of when the test was taken, and the lab team works hard to make this happen. However, very occasionally the lab has to re-run samples, which can cause delays. The lab currently operates from Monday to Friday only, and therefore if you have not received your result by midnight on Friday, and were relying on your test result before the weekend, you may wish to explore booking a private test.
If you are booking a test ahead of travel, please be aware that we cannot guarantee a 36 hour turnaround time. If a delay in receiving your results would cause stress and/or affect travel arrangements, then you may wish to explore booking a private test.
How do I get my test results?
You should receive an email within 36 working hours 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.
I'm travelling to England from overseas - can I use the Imperial testing scheme for my quarantine tests?
From 17 May what you must do when you arrive in England from abroad depends on where you have been in the 10 days before you arrive – visit the government website from more information. All arrivals are required to undertake either one or two mandatory COVID-19 tests depending upon if you are returning from a red, amber or green COVID-19 country. Tests must be booked from a list of government-approved test providers at your own expense - you will not be able to use the College’s asymptomatic testing scheme. Visit our Arriving in the UK webpage for further details.
Are the College tests accepted for international travel?
Visit the 'Confirmation of negative COVID-19 test result for international travel' webpage for more information.
Why have there been problems with my bookings at testing sessions?
There is an ongoing glitch on our booking platform which occurs when users cancel bookings on the booking form immediately after confirming an appointment. Users are redirected to the calendar page and given the opportunity to rebook, but bookings made in this way will not go through to our system.
To cancel and rebook an appointment, you must cancel via the link on your appointment confirmation email, and rebook via this link.
Thank you for your understanding, and for your patience while we resolved this issue.
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.
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 email@example.com.