What is a discreet paternity test?

Paternity testing is the best way to establish whether a man is the biological father of a child.

A standard non-invasive paternity test is performed by collecting cheek (buccal) swabs from the alleged father and the child and comparing both DNA samples to establish paternity. 

If the man in question is the biological father, both the man and child will share DNA markers. If the man is not the biological father, this will not be the case.

But what if asking for a cheek swab could lead to awkward questions – especially in cases where you have an older child that you need to test?

One of the most common questions we get asked at AlphaBiolabs is, can I do a discreet or secret paternity test? 

In this guide, we look at everything you need to know about discreet DNA paternity testing, including alternative methods of DNA sample collection, and the legal implications of performing a ‘secret’ paternity test.  

Table of contents
  • Is ‘discreet’ DNA testing legal?
  • How can I do a discreet or ‘secret’ paternity test?
  • Is AlphaBiolabs’ paternity DNA testing legal?
  • What other samples can be used for a discreet paternity test?
  • How can I keep a paternity test secret?
  • What options are there for a discreet/secret DNA test?
  • Where can I get a discreet paternity test?
If there is enough viable DNA to test, we can then perform your relationship DNA test in the usual way. For paternity, this involves analysing the DNA of the alleged father and comparing it to the child’s DNA to identify matching DNA markers.

Toothbrushes and nail clippings are both good sources of DNA, and both tests are especially useful for paternity disputes involving older children, where taking a cheek swab could lead to awkward questions.

As with all our DNA tests however, consent must be given by anyone over the age of 16 whose DNA is being submitted for testing.

For children under the age of 16, only parental consent is required. This consent must be provided by an adult with parental responsibility for that child.

If the correct consent is not provided, a toothbrush DNA test or nail DNA test cannot be performed.

What other samples can be used for a discreet paternity test?

There are many commercial companies who offer DNA testing services for the purposes of establishing paternity, or to determine whether your partner has been unfaithful.

There are lots of ways that providers of discreet DNA testing services collect their samples and while some companies may have found a legal loophole to allow this type of testing, that doesn’t mean to say that these methods of sample collection are ethical.

Some of the more underhand methods for collecting DNA samples include:

  • Blood stains
  • Cigarette butts
  • Floss
  • Chewing gum
  • Licked envelopes
  • Used tissues

These types of tests vary in cost and success rate. More importantly though, such methods seem designed for the purposes of avoiding consent.

This is evident because if you wanted to perform a paternity test, surely an easier way would be to take a cheek swab or to perform a viability study using a toothbrush or fingernail/toenail clippings to extract DNA.

This is not only more practical, but would produce a more conclusive result, as the sample is less likely to have touched any other biological matter (such as an animal or another person).

Most of the things mentioned in the above list are often discarded and would not require any contact with the person to be tested, or even for them to be around at all.

As a UKAS-accredited testing laboratory, you can be assured that AlphaBiolabs will only perform DNA testing where consent has been given by any person over the age of 16 whose DNA has been submitted for testing. If testing anyone under the age of 16, an adult with parental responsibility must provide consent for the child to be tested.

We do not provide any form of DNA testing using the items mentioned in the above list.

How can I keep a paternity test secret?

As mentioned earlier in this article, it is illegal in the UK to undertake a DNA test without the consent (or parental consent) of the person whose DNA is being tested.

At AlphaBiolabs, we pride ourselves on offering the fastest and most popular paternity test in the UK, with results available either the next day or the same working day.

While we cannot perform DNA tests without consent, there are options for maintaining secrecy and confidentiality throughout the process.

As an accredited testing laboratory, we ensure that paternity testing kits are sent out in discreet packaging, with no company logos or branding.

In addition, online payment transactions do not name AlphaBiolabs as the recipient on bank statements. This helps to minimise any chance of our company name being recognised in any correspondence.

We also only discuss details of our paternity testing with those who know the correct passwords (chosen by you when placing your order) or the answers to unique security questions.

Your password-protected results are emailed to you as standard, and all reports are sent as PDF files that require a password to open them, so you can rest assured your results will not be seen by anyone else.

Additionally, all our DNA paternity samples are destroyed after three months, and all identification paperwork (hard copy and electronic files) are destroyed after 4 years.

What options are there for a discreet/secret DNA test?

As a leading provider of peace of mind DNA testing for members of the public, we understand that DNA testing – especially paternity testing – can be an extremely sensitive subject.

Although asking for a DNA test can be difficult, we would always recommend having an open and honest conversation with the people involved about your reasons for wanting a DNA relationship test.

You should also think about how the result might impact on family relationships.

It’s important to note that discreet or ‘secret’ DNA testing does not mean the test can be performed without the consent of the individuals providing their DNA for testing.

Any person over the age of 16 must provide their own consent (a signature) for their DNA to be used in testing.

If testing a child under the age of 16, consent must be provided by a parent or guardian with parental responsibility for that child.

In the UK, a mother has parental responsibility for her child automatically. A father has parental responsibility if they are:

  • Married to the child’s mother or
  • Listed on the birth certificate (after a certain date, depending on which part of the UK the child was born in)

Discreet DNA testing (with consent given for all participants) can have several meanings, from the test being sent to your address in discreet packaging, to the delivery of your results in a secure, confidential way.

Discreet or ‘secret’ DNA testing can also refer to the method of collecting the DNA samples or choosing a DNA relationship test that can still help you get the answers you need if certain individuals are unavailable or unwilling to participate in DNA testing.

Below are a few examples of discreet or ‘secret’ DNA testing options:

Complex relationship DNA tests

In an ideal world, an alleged father or mother would be available or willing to participate in a paternity or maternity test. Sadly however, this is not always the case.

For example, if you wanted to do a paternity test and the alleged father has passed away or is unavailable or unwilling to participate in a paternity test, you might want to choose a different DNA relationship test to help you verify the identity of a child’s biological father.

It’s important to remember that whichever DNA relationship test you choose, consent must be provided by all parties providing their DNA for testing.

Any person over the age of 16 must provide their own consent (a signature). When testing children under the age of 16, consent must be provided by a parent or guardian with parental responsibility for that child.

Complex relationship DNA tests that can help you find the answers you need include:

Grandparent DNA Test

Other than a paternity test or a maternity test, a grandparent DNA test is one of the most accurate and reliable tests for confirming a biological relationship between a child and their father or mother.

As a child inherits half of their genetic profile from each of their parents, a grandchild will share DNA markers with their paternal and maternal grandparents.

A link can therefore be proved (or disproved) between a child and one or more of their father’s/mother’s biological parents by comparing their DNA with the child’s DNA.

This makes a Grandparent DNA Test a good option for establishing paternity or maternity if the alleged father or mother is unavailable or unwilling to participate in a DNA test.

An AlphaBiolabs’ grandparent DNA test analyses up to 45 DNA markers for an extremely accurate and reliable result.

However, a grandparent DNA test is not as conclusive as a standard paternity test or maternity test. For this reason, we would always recommend testing the alleged father or mother directly using a paternity DNA test or a maternity DNA test if possible.

You can purchase a Grandparent DNA Test now for £199 for next-day results. For an extra £70, you can choose to receive results the same day.

Aunt DNA Tests and Uncle DNA Tests (avuncular tests)

Every person inherits half of their genetic material from each of their parents, with related people sharing more DNA than people who are not related.

This means that aunts and uncles share DNA with their biological parents, their siblings, and their biological nieces and nephews, making aunt and uncle DNA tests perfect for situations where the biological father or mother is unavailable or unwilling to participate in a paternity or maternity test.

DNA aunt or uncle testing, also known as avuncular tests, can be performed on the alleged father’s or mother’s sister or brother to establish a biological relationship between them and their niece or nephew.

For these types of tests, the alleged uncle or aunt must be a full biological sibling of the alleged father or mother (not a half-sibling), as this helps increase the likelihood of a conclusive result.

Our aunt and uncle DNA tests look at up to 45 DNA markers for an accurate and reliable result.

An AlphaBiolabs Aunt DNA Test or Uncle DNA Test can be purchased for £199 for next-day results, with the option of same-day results for an extra £70.

Sibling DNA Test

A sibling DNA test analyses up to 45 DNA markers, and can help determine a child’s paternity or maternity by establishing whether two or more children have the same father or mother.

Unlike a paternity test or maternity test, which will always provide a conclusive result, a sibling DNA test is different.

When a sibling test is conducted, the laboratory will determine the genetic profiles of the alleged siblings.

Based on the genetic material shared by each sibling, a sibling DNA index or likelihood ratio is calculated to determine the most likely relationship.

A likelihood of greater than 10 supports that the tested individuals are either full or half-siblings. A likelihood ratio of less than 0.1 would not support this, meaning the individuals are unlikely to be related.

A likelihood which falls between 0.1 and 10 is considered inconclusive, which means a relationship cannot be determined based on the statistical probability obtained from the analysis.

You can buy an AlphaBiolabs Sibling DNA Test for £199 for next-day results. For an extra £70, you can choose to receive your results the same day.

Y Chromosome DNA Test (Y-DNA tests)

For male children requiring a paternity test where the father is unavailable, Y-DNA chromosome testing (Y-DNA testing) can provide a conclusive answer as to whether male relatives share paternal DNA.

This test works because all male children inherit their Y chromosome from their father. Male children will pass the Y chromosome from their father onto their own male children when they become fathers.

The low mutation rate of the Y chromosome means that males coming from the same paternal line will always share the same Y chromosome. This makes this test ideal for male relatives who want to confirm that they share a paternal line.

A full match between Y chromosomes confirms that two (or more) males are related. If the males have different Y chromosome profiles, then they are not related.

An AlphaBiolabs Y Chromosome DNA Test can be purchased for £199 for next-day results, or an additional £70 for same-day results.

Toothbrush DNA tests and Nail DNA tests

A relationship DNA test is usually performed by rubbing a cheek (buccal) swab quickly and painlessly on the inside of each donor’s cheek to collect cheek cell DNA.

These samples are then analysed at the laboratory, to identify matching DNA markers (loci).

However, in some circumstances, it might not be easy to obtain a cheek (buccal) swab sample.

For example, if you wanted to perform a ‘secret’ paternity test on an older child (under 16 years of age), an alternative method of DNA collection could be used (instead of a cheek swab) to save any awkward questions.

In these instances, you may choose to order a toothbrush DNA test or a nail DNA test for a more discreet method of sample collection.

It’s important to note that consent must still be provided for the child’s DNA to be tested if they are under the age of 16. This consent must be provided by a parent or guardian with parental responsibility for that child.

Where can I get a discreet paternity test?

At AlphaBiolabs, we understand that paternity testing is a sensitive topic.

Before taking a paternity test, we would always encourage you to think about the potential implications for both you and your family if you do not get the result you want.

You can order your Paternity Test, Toothbrush DNA Test or Nail DNA Test online now.

If you require a paternity test for legal matters, you will need to request a quote for a legal DNA Test.

Alternatively, you can contact our friendly and discreet Customer Services team by calling 0333 600 1300 or emailing

Last reviewed: 09/05/2023
Casey Randall AlphaBiolabs

Casey Randall

Head of Genetics at AlphaBiolabs

Casey joined the AlphaBiolabs team in 2012 and heads up both the DNA and Covid-19 testing teams.

An expert in DNA analysis and a member of the International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG), Casey holds an MSc with Distinction in DNA Profiling and a First-Class BSc with Honours in Forensic Science.

Casey is responsible for maintaining the highest quality testing standards, as well as looking for ways to further enhance the service that AlphaBiolabs provides and exploring new and innovative techniques in DNA analysis.

Connect with Casey on LinkedIn


  1. I have found some hair allover my partners jumper socks I have a feeling he is being unfaithful is there anyway of testing the hair to find out who it belongs to in any way shape or form but obviously I wouldn’t won’t anyone knowing about this apart from myself so having consent off who’s ever hair it is wouldn’t be possible as I don’t no who’s it is so don’t no who I would be asking but is there anyway of finding out who this hair belongs to at all obviously legally if you would be so kind to let me no or if u no another way to go about this I’d be be very grateful to say the least! Many thanks

    • Hi Emma. The simple answer to your question is no, for the following reasons:

      Most importantly, written consent is always required from a sample donor before any DNA testing can be carried out on their sample. So in this scenario, such a test would not be legally possible.

      Secondly, we would need an existing ‘reference’ DNA profile from the sample donor, to see if there is a match against the DNA profile obtained from the hair.

      Finally, whilst hair can be tested for comparison purposes, it does have limitations as DNA is only found in the root of the hair. Hair found on clothing may not have hair roots and therefore a DNA profile may not be able to be obtained.


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