If you are interested in performing a DNA test, you may have questions regarding the DNA testing process, the associated cost of a DNA tests, or perhaps how to perform a DNA test with a deceased person?
The information below provides answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding DNA testing, DNA testing costs, DNA collection and test procedures and more!
FAQs DNA Testing
Why should I choose PaternityUSA?
Our lab is the world’s largest and most trusted private relationship testing laboratory with perfect scores on the last 16 inspections by the AABB, NYSDOH, and CAP, among others. This translates into the most accurate and reliable testing on the market. PaternityUSA offers world-class customer service and will help you with any question you may have along the way, even after you get your result.
How does the home test work?
All test kits contain complete collection instructions. The collection process is simple. We need 4 swabs per person. The swabs should be rubbed against the inner cheek and gums, one for each quadrant of the mouth. The DNA will be in skin cells that are collected on the swabs in this procedure, not in the saliva. The samples should be placed in sample envelopes as instructed, label the envelopes, then put all sample envelopes the included prepaid mailing envelope to be sent by mail back to our laboratory. If you ordered the UPS 2 day return mailer, please be sure to take it to a UPS store or drop-box; do not put the UPS mailer in your mailbox or take it to the post office.
What standards are used to ensure tests are performed correctly?
We not only follow, but exceed the standards set forth by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) for performing ALL of our DNA paternity tests. Because we use a high number of genetic markers, results usually are completely definitive. Our laboratory is the only lab to receive a special commendation from the AABB for our proprietary Dual Process. Our lab is the only laboratory in the world to employ these processes and standards. We run all of our tests twice to ensure every test is 100% accurate. We offer an Accuracy Guarantee. We employ specific testing procedures to protect against the accidental switching of samples and to maintain the complete confidentiality of our customers.
What is a buccal swab and is it as accurate as blood?
A buccal swab is soft and resembles a large Q-Tip. It is used to collect a sample of cheek cells by simply rubbing the inside of the cheeks. It is as accurate as blood, as the DNA is the same. A person should, however, abstain from smoking, drinking coffee or tea for a few hours before taking a sample, and smokers should rinse and brush their cheeks with a toothbrush before swabbing. We ask that you allow the samples to dry completely to avoid contaminating the DNA material.
How does a DNA parentage test work?
A child inherits DNA from the mother’s egg (maternal chromosomes) and the father’s sperm (paternal chromosomes). Each parent contributes half of the child’s DNA. The child (and every person) has pairs of chromosomes, half coming from the mother and half from the father. For each location (“locus”, plural “loci”) in a chromosome pair there is a specific DNA sequence in each chromosome. A DNA parentage test works by identifying the specific DNA sequences for multiple loci in the mother, child, and father. If the mother and father are the parents of the child, the two DNA sequences at each locus in the child’s chromosomes must have been inherited from each parent. By determining these DNA sequences, paternity or other familial relationships can be established. For more information, see How To Interpret A Parentage Test Report.
How does testing for immigration or CRBA work?
The immigration process can be a little complicated but we are here to help. Our experts handle hundreds of immigration test cases each year. In most cases, where one person is in the USA and the other(s) in another country we will arrange a convenient collection appointment for the US resident near their location. At the same time we will ship a collection kit to the embassy for the international parties. The embassy or their representative will contact your loved one to arrange that collection appointment. We provide return shipping to the lab and you will receive all tracking numbers so you will know when they send the samples back. When samples are all in the lab, testing will begin. When testing is complete the result will be emailed to you, and the original will go to the requesting agency – either the USCIS or embassy.
Can we test to see if we are siblings or cousins?
When two people have related mothers and want to see if they have the same father, or believe their fathers could be related, a siblingship test will not produce an accurate result if there is a cousin relationship in the case. In this testing scenario, a paternity or maternity test with the parent in question would be the best solution. Other testing options may be a male lineage Y-STR test for males, or an X-SV female lineage test to look for a common female line.
Can I test with a half-sibling of my alleged father?
The avuncular test will only produce an accurate result report with an aunt or uncle who is a full sibling to the alleged father, meaning they share the same mother and father. If a grandparent or other relative is available, testing with them instead may be a better option. Please contact a case manager at (877) 786-9543 for more information.
Can I have a paternity test done if the alleged father is deceased?
In most cases today, medical examiners, coroners or hospitals will keep a DNA sample of a deceased person for future use in DNA evaluations. The decedent’s next of kin will need to authorize the relase of the DNA for testing and a copy of a death certificate must be submitted along with other consent paperwork. Forensic processing fees may apply depending upon what type of sample can be provided for the deceased individual. These tests are conducted as legally binding chain of custody tests, and the results are notarized and AABB accredited. For more information on this type of testing please contact a case manager at (877) 786-9543.
What type of non-standard samples can be used in DNA testing?
If you would like to perform a DNA test with a sample other than a cheek swab, we can perform a viability study on a number of items to attempt to get a DNA profile for testing. Common non-standard sampling includes (but is not limited to): hair (6-8 strands plucked with the root attached), toenail or fingernail clippings, ear swabs (q-tips with earwax), mucous on a tissue, blood on a band-aid, etc. If you have a question about a sample you would like tested please contact a case manager at (877) 786-9543 for more information.
Is the legally-binding test different from the informational test?
The DNA tests are processed in the laboratory exactly the same using the highest testing standards and state of the art technology. The difference is that legally-binding tests require a witness, proof of identity, and special chain of custody procedures. The basic Home Test Kit therefore is not legally binding and results are only for informational use, or personal knowledge. It is intended as a discrete and private way whereby families can resolve relationship questions without involving outside parties. We also offer a Court-Admissible Home Paternity Test Kit that requires a disinterested witness (your doctor or one of our network clinic locations) to oversee sample collection, verify identities and keep the chain of custody.
Can a paternity test be performed without the mother?
Yes, although including the mother will make sure the test is as conclusive as possible, the results of testing a father and child are usually either a 99+% positive or 0% negative, and are still sufficient to be acceptable in a court of law. We offer an Accuracy Guarantee for a paternity test with the mother included.
Why is it better to include a sample from the mother?
In a matter as important as DNA testing, especially for court-admissible cases, it is never good to leave room for doubt. Ideally, if you are having a test other than a paternity or maternity test performed, the known parent(s), usually the mother or mothers, should be tested. A child receives half of their DNA from their mother, and the other half from their father. Because the half of the DNA that the child receives from the mother will match the mother’s DNA exactly, comparing the mother and child will allow us to eliminate the maternal DNA, or DNA from the mother. The remaining unmatched DNA will then be known to be that of the biological father. Without the ability to remove the mother’s DNA from the equation, we are not able to tell which DNA is from the mother and which DNA is from the father and so the possibility increases greatly that results will not be conclusive. Not including the known parent(s) may require additional testing, thus extending the time and cost needed to achieve conclusive result. In general, if the mother is available for testing she should be included. In any event, the test can still be performed without the inclusion of the mother if she is not available.
What if I want to test more than one child or alleged parent?
Additional family members can be included in the tests for a small additional fee.
Do you do non-invasive prenatal testing?
At this time, PaternityUSA does not offer that service.
How old does a child need to be?
Because DNA is set at conception and generally does not change, a paternity test can be performed on a person of any age.
Do I need a court or doctor’s order for a test?
No, you do not need such an order to perform a parentage or relationship test, unless you are in the state of New York. Our laboratory meets New York State regulations to perform legal DNA collections and testing for New York residents. Residents of New York must submit a doctor authorization, court order or immigration DNA testing request with any DNA collection. Many of our clinic locations in New York have doctors on staff that can provide you with the authorization needed for your DNA testing.
How accurate is a DNA paternity test?
DNA testing is the most accurate method available for determining paternity. Its power lies in the ability to trace the pattern of inheritance for separate regions of the genetic material (chromosomes). From this information a probability of paternity can be calculated. This number can reach 99.99999% in some cases. The percentage of random men of the same race that can be excluded as the biological father is also computed for every case.
What’s included in the price?
At PaternityUSA, we work to bring the highest quality tests at the lowest possible prices. Our listed prices include testing at our AABB accredited laboratory and test results. All lab fees are included. Don’t forget that we also provide free overnight shipping for you to have a collection kit as soon as possible. Other options are available through our easy to use shopping cart so you can customize your DNA test for your exact testing scenario.
Shipping and Payment
Can you send a collection kit to me discretely?
We understand the sensitive nature of DNA tests. The collection kit is sent in an unmarked mailing envelope.
What if we live in different states or cities?
Often times family members live in different areas and are not able to get together for a DNA collection. If this is the case, you can choose the option for an additional shipping address when you place your order. We will link the collection kits before they are shipped, and send one to each address on the order. When the samples arrive in the lab they will be matched up using the original referencing put in place before shipping.
How soon can I get a collection kit?
We ship OVERNIGHT for FREE. We know that sometimes DNA collection matters are urgent and don’t want you to miss the opportunity to collect a swab. That is why we ship all of our collection kits going to physical addresses within the contiguous USA through UPS overnight. If your order is processed before our shipping cut off of 2:00 PM EST, your collection kit will ship the same day to be delivered the following business day. Also, for an additional $5.00, we will include a prepaid 2 day return mailer to get the samples back to the lab within 2 business days of when you drop them off with UPS. We want to make sure you have a clean and sterile collection kit as soon as possible so that you can get your result quicker. Please note that while we make every effort possible to get your collection kit to you as soon as possible, we cannot control rare UPS delivery delays due to inclement weather, etc.
Do you ship internationally?
Yes. We have special international rates that apply depending upon the country where you or your loved one reside.
Do you accept payment plans?
As a general rule, we do not accept payment plans, however for some extenuating circumstances we can offer a split payment for an immigration case or a case over $500.00. We try to do our very best to help DNA testing fit into any budget to serve our customers as we understand how important these matters are. If you have a situation where you would like consideration for a payment plan option, please contact a case manager at (877) 786-9543 and we will make every attempt to help.
What forms of payment do you accept?
Currently we accept payment in US based funds through MasterCard, Visa, American Express (AmEx) or Discover credit or debit cards. We also accept PayPal payments.
DNA Test Process and Collection
What if our DNA samples don’t get to the lab at the same time?
This is not a problem, and in fact is pretty common. If one set of samples arrives before the other, they will be processed and on a tray waiting for the other set to start the comparison. Once all samples are in lab, testing will begin.
How long do I have to do the DNA test after I order?
We realize that sometimes you may not be able to get DNA samples right away. For your convenience, your case will stay open for 90 days after you place your order. If you need extra time to obtain samples, simply reply to any email you have received from us and let us know you would like to keep your case active for an additional 90 days. We will hold your case open for up to 6 months at your request. After that time period, the case will closed and a fee may apply to re-open the case and process samples.
Do you have a location by me?
We have a large network of collection centers across the country and some in other countries as well. With over 5,000 locations, we more than likely have one in your area to serve your testing needs.
How soon can I have my DNA collection?
If you are conducting a legally binding DNA test, most of the time we can get your collection scheduled within a few days. In some cases, same day appointments may even be available. For informational or non-legal testing, our DNA test kits are sent directly to you via UPS overnight delivery service so you can have your collection kit the next business day.
What do I need to bring to my collection appointment?
DNA collection appointments are pretty short and simple. Please have each adult bring their photo ID and minors will need to bring a recent photograph. Some collection centers are equpiied with cameras and will photograph the participants at the time of collection. This can be used in lieu of a photo you bring. A legal guardian will need to be present to sign consent for any minor being collected. Proof of legal guardianship may be required.
What will happen at my sample collection appointment?
When you arrive at your appointment, you will need to present proper identification, which the sample collector will verify and photocopy.
After you are properly identified, you will need to sign a form giving your consent for the test. If you are the legal custodian of a tested minor, you will have to sign the form on behalf of the child.
The collector will collect your DNA samples using simple buccal swabs—cotton-like swabs that he or she will rub against the inside of your cheek to gather loose cheek cells. The collector will then send all the samples to our laboratory.
Our collection process is designed to be convenient, simple, and painless!
Can I make my own collection kit by using Q-tips and sending them to you?
We value our clients too much to try to save a few dollars ourselves and have you make your own collection kit, or “MYOK” as other companies advertise. They say this is a way for you to save money, but in truth, it’s really only a way for them to cut corners.
To help ensure integrity of the DNA samples and make sure the swabs are sterile before use, we ship a collection kit that contains all of the materials needed for a DNA collection via overnight UPS. When cotton swabs or q-tips are used for making a “home collection kit”, there is a greater risk of cross-contamination and samples being insufficient for testing once they reach the laboratory.
For this reason, PaternityUSA does not charge for a collection kit or express shipping to you. Sometimes the moment comes when you have to do a DNA collection right away or lose the opportunity to obtain a sample from that person. In these cases, you can use regular cotton swabs for a DNA collection. We will need 4 swabs per person. Cut the q-tip so that there is only one swab on one end, being careful not to touch the swab you will be using. Swab the inner cheek and gums well and place the swabs in a paper envelope. Contact us as soon as possible to purchase your test and get mailing instructions. Please note that this is not the recommended procedure, and should only be used in circumstances where you may not be able to swab at another time.
What is the difference between an AABB accredited test and an unaccredited test?
Actually, we have devoted a whole page to address this issue. Please see About Accredited Tests for an explanation of accredited vs. unaccredited tests.
Where are the DNA collections performed?
You can order an informational test to be done in the privacy and comfort of your own home, or if you prefer, you can have a legal test done with professional collection at a collection facility at one of our thousands of DNA collection centers or by having a collection kit shipped to your own doctor’s office.
How long does it take to get the results?
We provide paternity test results in 2 business days from receipt of all samples for standard DNA testing. A shorter turnaround time can be arranged for an additional charge. Other relationship testing may take longer depending upon the type of test.
How will I receive my results?
This depends upon which type of results you order. We offer results in two manners. First, our email results are emailed as soon as the testing is complete. This option is standard for all non-legal tests and optional for legally binding tests. This is the quickest way to get your result. The other way to get your result is having a hard copy original sent in the mail. This is standard with the legal tests because this is your actual legal document. The hard copy result is optional for non-legal tests.
How do I interpret the paternity test resultt?
In the vast majority of paternity cases the results produce an unequivocal result. The alleged father is either “excluded” or is “not excluded” as the biological father. If the report states that the alleged father cannot be excluded as the father, this is a positive result. If the report states he is exclided as the father, this means that he is not the father. Each of the identity loci are analyzed separately to calculate a paternity index, and all the individual indexes are combined to calculate a “combined paternity index”. This index is translated into a percentage and a ratio which are also listed on your report. All of the numbers mean the same thing, however the percentage of probability is the easiest to interpret. In a paternity or maternity test, a result of 99+% is a positive, where a result of a 0% probability is a negative. For more information see How to Interpret a Parentage Test Report. See a sample of a Negative paternity Result and also Positive Result Report here. You can also see a sample of a sibling DNA test result here.
What is the Combined Paternity Index?
The paternity index or related index is a number that represents the likelihood of the relationship. The number is calculated based on how common the genetic information found in your test result is within your race population. The paternity indices for each genetic locus tested are used to calculate a combined paternity index which can result in a 99.999% probability of paternity, or even higher in the case of a true match. As an example, if the CPI is 9,999,987 it means the odds of the tested father being the unique biological father are 9,999,987 to 1.
Can my results be used in court?
Yes, if you purchase a Court-Admissible Legal DNA Test. These tests have additional proof of identity and chain of custody requirements. A Court-Admissible Test is available by having the DNA collected at one of our DNA collection facilities or in some case we can also visit your home or office. We maintain careful records on every sample processed. Results from our lab DNA Diagnostic “DDC” are admissible in a court of law, and by the USCIS for immigration purposes.
Are the results confidential?
Your results will be held in strictest confidence and released only to the person who purchases the test. We do not release your results to anyone else, even other test participants
What happens to the test samples (cheek swabs or blood) after the test?
Our normal procedure is to retain the samples for six months in case additional testing approved by the customer is necessary, and then destroy the samples. Additional testing can only be done on the samples received if the result is inconclusive or your test was a legally binding test. If you wish, however, you may request that we destroy all samples containing the tested persons’ DNA immediately after completing the test.
Are results from the home test admissible in court?
Although the non-legal home paternity test kit and the legal paternity test kits are essentially the same test, the non-legal version may not be used in court because the persons being tested are not legally being identified as required by law. The non-legal test is intended to be as a discrete and private as possible whereby families can resolve paternity issues without involving outside parties and therefore not court-admissible. We do offer a court admissible or legally binding test for a small additional charge of $125.00 dollars (for most test types).
What is your accuracy guarantee?
We guarantee paternity testing results with the inclusion of the mother because of the precision of the test (see previous question) and the standards we adhere to in the performance of the tests. First, our lab is truly accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) as a DNA parentage testing laboratory. Second, we participate in proficiency inspections conducted by the College of American Pathologists three times per year. Third, Ph.D. directors oversee the operation and personally review and sign all test reports. You can be assured that our methods and practices adhere to the strictest, highest standards in the nation.
HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT DNA TESTING?
WE ARE HERE TO HELP!
Our staff members have many years of experience servicing the DNA testing needs of clients just like you around the world. With PaternityUSA.com you can buy the most trusted and highest quality DNA tests in the industry from our world-renowned lab at the cheapest prices. Our lab is the largest, most recognized name in DNA testing throughout the USA and even the world. All our DNA tests are performed in our state of the art AABB accredited laboratory by top geneticists. Don’t settle for anything less.