Home Office DNA testing

Casey Randall AlphaBiolabs

By Casey Randall, Head of Genetics at AlphaBiolabs

Last reviewed: 02/10/2023

Home Office DNA testing

DNA testing is the most scientific and accurate way to prove that two or more individuals are biologically related. When this is used to determine the relationship of the family members of a UK citizen, it becomes invaluable in supporting immigration cases. AlphaBiolabs offers a wide range of DNA testing kits to determine family relationships, including paternity tests, maternity tests, sibling tests, twin (zygosity) tests, grandparent tests, aunt and uncle tests, and Y chromosome tests.

Immigration DNA testing is often required when a UK citizen is sponsoring the immigration of a relative and needs to prove to the Home Office, Passport Office, UK embassy or consulate that the person seeking to immigrate is indeed a blood relative. For example, if a child is born abroad to a parent or parents who are citizens of the UK, a Home Office approved DNA test needs to confirm maternity and/or paternity to allow the child to be granted UK citizenship.

Our Home Office approved DNA testing can be used for immigration cases, applications and appeals, and results are provided with an unprecedented turnaround time.

How does it work with a family member abroad?

The person seeking to immigrate must first arrange to have the DNA testing performed by a Ministry of Justice-approved DNA testing laboratory, such as AlphaBiolabs. Our accredited laboratory has its UK immigration test accepted by the Home Office, Her Majesty’s Passport Office, UK Visas and Immigration, the UK Border Agency and UK courts.

We will liaise directly with you to arrange all appointments and keep you informed every step of the way. Rest assured that we will manage your immigration case from start to finish:

  • Collecting the samples
    • Sample collection in the UK
    • Sample collection abroad
  • How the process works
  • Turnaround times
  • How much does it cost?

Collecting the samples

No blood samples are needed for the immigration DNA test. Swabs are used to painlessly collect cheek (buccal) cells from the inside of the mouth.

The DNA sample needs to be collected by an approved sample collector, a nurse or another medical professional. There are strict guidelines to follow and the collector needs to maintain chain of custody conditions to ensure validity of the test and avoid any suspicion of fraud. This involves the collector inspecting identification, checking the signed consent forms and confirming the correct person has provided the sample. The sample donor also needs to bring two passport-sized photos (51 x 51 mm) with them, which are checked and signed by the collector. Under these strict collection conditions, there is no chance of the sample being interfered with and the results are therefore admissible in a UK court or immigration hearing.

Sample collection in the UK

There are three ways that AlphaBiolabs can collect the DNA sample of the UK relative:

  • At an address of your choice using an AlphaBiolabs’ trained sample collector
  • At one of our nationwide Walk in Centres. You can pop in anytime (subject to opening days and times) to have your samples collected free of charge.
  • At your local GP or medical practice (please note there may be a charge for this service)

AlphaBiolabs sends the testing kits direct to the collector to maintain chain of custody conditions. After providing the sample, tamper tape is used to seal the packaging to ensure integrity of the sample. This is then returned back to our testing lab, where it remains pending until the relative’s sample arrives at the lab and the DNA analysis can begin.

Sample collection abroad

DNA sample collection abroad can also be arranged directly by AlphaBiolabs. We have a large international collection network available to take DNA samples and regularly work with immigration centres, consulates and embassies worldwide. To date, we have collected samples from 90 countries.

There are two ways that AlphaBiolabs can collect the DNA sample of the overseas relative:

  • At the relative’s local GP, medical practice or hospital. Simply provide us with the relevant details and we will arrange for the testing kit to be sent direct.
  • At another approved clinic. AlphaBiolabs can help source a suitable establishment.

The testing kits are sent direct to the collector to maintain chain of custody conditions. After providing the sample, tamper tape is used to seal the packaging to ensure integrity of the sample. This is then returned back to our testing lab via courier, where it will be processed together with the UK relative’s sample.

How the process works

Once back at our laboratory, our geneticists extract the DNA from the cheek cell samples using one of the newest DNA extraction techniques available. The high-quality DNA samples obtained during extraction are then subjected to Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). PCR amplifies the DNA extracted from a person’s cheek cell sample, generating thousands to millions of copies of a particular DNA sequence.

Our laboratory is one of only a few accredited to test 25 DNA Short Tandem Repeats (STR) markers as standard; most relationship tests are performed using only 16 STR markers. STR markers are specific locations on a chromosome made up of sequences of repeated DNA. These STR markers are highly variable in length between individuals. Each individual has two copies of each STR marker, known as alleles: one is inherited from the father and the other from the mother.

The two alleles observed at each STR marker are compared between the tested individuals. The correspondence of alleles between tested individuals provides evidence of a relationship between them. Statistical calculations are then performed to determine the probability of the tested individuals sharing a relationship.

AlphaBiolabs performs all DNA tests twice so you can be confident of getting accurate results.

Turnaround times

With next day results as standard, we are confident that our Home Office DNA test is the fastest in the UK to help members of the public quickly move their immigration applications along. We can even provide you with same day results if required. As soon as we receive both samples in our laboratory, the testing process can begin.

Please note that our express testing service is only available on working days and the samples need to arrive at our laboratory before 10 am.

How much does it cost?

The cost of DNA immigration testing depends on each individual case. Complex relationship testing and certain locations will add to the total cost.

The Legal Aid Agency has produced a range of information to assist individuals in establishing whether their case is eligible for Legal Aid funding. We recommend you use this as a starting point before embarking on the complex process of applying for legal aid for your immigration application.

Useful links related to Home Office DNA testing


If you require an immigration test for yourself, a relative or a client please call AlphaBiolabs on 0333 600 1300 or email info@alphabiolabs.com The immigration test results provided by AlphaBiolabs are accepted by the Home Office in the UK.

Order an immigration DNA test

AlphaBiolabs’ DNA test results are recognised by the Home Office and UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)

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

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