Cervical screening in the UK

Are you eligible for NHS screening?

To be invited for cervical screening you need to be registered with a GP, who needs to have your current address on file. The NHS call and re-call system invites all women who are eligible for screening and registered with a GP. This system also keeps track of any follow-up investigation, and, if all is well, re-calls you for screening at the appropriate time for you - either three or five years (check the table below). It is important that you ensure your GP has any change of circumstance or address.

The age of invitation for cervical screening currently varies according to country. Please check the chart (below) for your region. 

Eligibility for cervical screening in the UK

Country Eligibility

Northern Ireland
& Wales 

Women aged 25 to 49 invited every three years
Women aged 50 to 64 invited every five years
Scotland Women aged 20 to 60 invited every three years

In Scotland the age of eligibility will be changing on 1st April 2016 when women will be invited from 25.

Women in England, Northern Ireland and Wales may be invited for screening up to 6 months before the age of eligibility.

In 2012 the UK National Screening Committee recommended a uniform screening age of 25 to 64 across all UK countries. These changes are due to be implemented in Scotland from 1st April 2016.

Women who are eligible and who have not previously had a cervical screening may be offered one when they attend their GP or family planning clinic on another matter. For example, women in England should receive their first invitation for routine screening by their 25th birthday, Women in Scotland by their 20th birthday etc. If you are eligible and have not received an invitation to attend for cervical screening then you should contact your GP.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of cervical cancer please consult your GP as soon as possible (even if you are not due for a cervical screening).

Those with compromised immune systems
Women who have a severely compromised immune system such as HIV may need to be screened annually as they are more likely to develop a persistent infection of HPV which can over time cause cervical abnormalities. Women who are HIV positive will need to attend screening every year, the screening test is usually taken outside of the National Screening programme. Please check with your health care professional for further information on screening outside of the national programme.

Date last updated: 
29 Jul 2014
Date due for review: 
29 May 2015