DNA Testing FAQs

Please find below a selection of the questions we get asked on a regular basis. If you have any more please call us on 0333 600 1300.

What is DNA?

DNA stands for Deoxyribonucleic acid and is a chemical substance found in most cells of the human body and living organisms. DNA stores information that is passed down from one generation to the next (half from the mother and half from the father), providing a map of genetic characteristics.

This information is used to develop an individual in a particular way, for example their physical appearance and attributes.

As DNA is in almost all living cells it can be found in saliva, hair and blood for example. These are some of the most common sources that DNA testing samples are analysed from.

What sorts of DNA tests are there?

There are all sorts of DNA testing available, the most common of which is paternity testing. Paternity testing is used to determine whether an alleged father of a child is the true biological father of the child.

These tests produce the most accurate results when the child, the alleged father AND mother are all tested. But there are other ways that the probability of the paternity of the child can be deduced without the need to test all three of these individuals. These include Y chromosome testing and aunt and uncle testing (AKA avuncular testing) to name a few.

DNA testing usually refers to relationship testing, in which an individual’s likelihood of a relationship with another individual can be determined. This could be conducted for many reasons, including establishing that a person is related to a UK citizen for immigration purposes, or to determine a person’s ancestry.

DNA testing is commonly involved with solving crime. We are primarily a DNA, Drug & Alcohol testing laboratory and we do not claim to be a forensics laboratory but we can use workplace testing to help reduce crime or eliminate criminal activity within your business if required. DNA testing is also associated with determining the likelihood for someone to inherit genetic diseases or to help develop the treatment of genetic diseases. AlphaBiolabs do not currently test for such purposes.

What is the difference between a peace of mind test and a court approved test?

A ‘peace of mind’ test means that the test can be self-administered at home using one of our kits that we will send to an address of your choice. It can be used for your own knowledge and peace of mind, but as the samples will have been collected by you (self-administered) it cannot be used in legal proceedings.

It will not be admissible in court, as proof of relationship for the Child Support Agency or for immigration purposes for example. It is still an extremely accurate form of testing and if you only need it for your own knowledge then it can be a more cost-effective form of DNA testing.

A ‘court approved test’ is a test that can be used as proof of relationship in legal cases. The difference here is that the sample will have been collected by a third party, who can certify that the person who is required to be tested is definitely the person who is actually being tested.

This is done in a way so that all the required procedures of a legal DNA test are followed during the sample collection process. The analysis process and results are not necessarily any more accurate than those of a peace of mind test, but it does reduce the possibility of foul-play – such as tampering and bogus sample donations (the wrong person’s sample being used due to a fraudulent submission).

Legal testing usually costs more due to the sample collection process involved, but you can reduce this cost by visiting one of our Walk-in Centres, where one of our fully qualified members of staff will collect the sample for free without the need to make an appointment.
If you require a DNA test for your own knowledge order a peace of mind test kit to use at your own convenience, any time.

If you require a court approved test then order a legal DNA test and we can arrange for one of our sample collectors to visit you at an address of your choice at a time that’s convenient to you. Alternatively, you can visit one of our Walk-in Centres

What does a DNA test involve?

Most DNA testing involves a buccal swab being rubbed on the inside of the cheek of the individuals that need testing. The swab collects cells, which contains the DNA required for analysis. In cases of paternity testing, it is usually the child, the alleged father and the mother that are to give samples – two swabs each.

These swabs will be placed in individual envelopes and sealed before being sent to the lab for analysis.
Some DNA tests do require taking blood, such as prenatal DNA testing. However, this is done non-invasively and will not disturb or harm the baby in any way as the DNA is analysed from the mother’s blood rather than directly from the baby’s. Please see (Prenatal DNA Testing) for more information on the subject.

DNA tests can also be undertaken with samples from the deceased (for example during autopsy). When this is the case all the relevant ‘qualified’ consents are required before any DNA testing can take place.

What is a buccal swab?

A buccal swab is a mouth swab that looks a lot like a conventional cotton bud. However, it is more robust and suitable than a cotton bud so it is not advised that your own are used.

Do you do discreet DNA testing (AKA infidelity testing)?

All of our DNA testing is done discreetly in the sense that our DNA testing kits are sent out in discreet packaging and all customer information and results are kept completely confidential.

However, we do not provide discreet DNA testing (or infidelity testing) in the sense of performing a DNA test without the relevant consent required. When DNA testing is conducted, some form of consent is always required and we will only conduct our services when this consent is provided.

There are exceptions where consent is not required, such as for coroners, the investigation of crime or for national security. When it comes to tests for the general public the legality of testing without consent can be a difficult area.

There are exceptions where consent cannot be given such as for young children or the deceased, but consent can usually be given by someone else such as a parent or next-of-kin.

If a DNA test is offered to the public without the need for the person being tested to consent to it, then they may be breaching The Human Tissue Act, even if it is only for peace of mind.

Do you need consent when taking a DNA sample?

Simply put, some form of consent is always required for DNA testing to be conducted.

There are some circumstances where consent is not possible, such as when testing children and the deceased. However, relevant consent can be given by other related individuals such as parents and next of kin.

There are some authorities that are exempt from the Human Tissue Act (see above) but these do not include companies offering DNA testing to the general public.

It is always important to provide the consent of everybody being tested when possible and ‘qualifying’ consent when it is not.

What if the person is deceased or unavailable for testing?

DNA testing can still be conducted if a person is deceased (during autopsy for example) or unavailable but the relevant consent must be acquired before these tests can be conducted (see above).

What is the minimum age for DNA testing?

There is no minimum age for DNA testing to be conducted as it is painless and will cause no harm. However, the parent or guardian’s permission will need to be given. DNA testing can even be performed before the baby is born with non-intrusive prenatal testing, as this too will not disturb or harm the child in any way.

This is because the DNA is analysed from the mother’s blood rather than that of the baby. For prenatal testing to be conducted the mother must have been pregnant for over 9 weeks .

How much does DNA testing cost?

The cost of DNA testing varies depending on a number of factors such as the type of test, the method of sample collection and the number of people who are to be tested. Peace of mind tests usually cost less than court approved DNA tests. This is not because they are any less accurate, but because the sample collection procedure is different.

In specific cases where GPs are needed to collect the samples they may include their own fees for the service. AlphaBiolabs states when additional fees for services are required at the point of sale (such as if you require an additional child to be tested in a paternity test) so it is clear to our customers how much they will pay overall before any payment is taken.

Other variations in price can coincide with the time you require the results. With our peace of mind tests we provide next working day results as standard and our legal testing is provided within 3 working days as standard. However, with legal testing we can also provide next working day results or even same day (8 hour) results if we receive the samples before 10:00am for an additional fee.

I cannot afford a DNA test, can I have one for free?

It is relatively rare that someone can be eligible for a free DNA test. For instance, DNA tests are not available on the NHS and people on benefits do not receive special discounts in this area. If you cannot afford a DNA test, for whatever reason, then get in touch with us.

Can I use the results in court?

If you order a peace of mind test (a home DNA testing kit) then the results cannot be used in court. If you order a legal DNA test you will be able to use the results as proof of relationship in court, for the CMS and the Home Office for example.

When you order on the phone our friendly customer service team will always clarify with you what the tests will be used for to ensure that you purchase the correct test for your needs.

Who needs to be tested?

With paternity testing it is best to take a sample from the child, alleged father AND the mother. It IS still possible to determine the probability of paternity without testing the mother, but the probability percentage of the results can be greater if they are tested too.

In most cases where a child is involved they will need to be tested, but as the procedure uses mouth swabs it is totally painless and there is no minimum age at which a child can be tested in this way. It is possible to determine a child’s paternity by DNA testing while pregnant (non-invasive prenatal testing) and this does not require a sample being taken directly from the baby. The babys DNA is analysed from the mother’s blood, so the baby is not disturbed or harmed during the procedure.

If the father is not available for paternity testing a probability of paternity can still be established using other testing techniques such as Y chromosome testing. If a DNA sample needs to be taken of someone who is deceased this can possibly be obtained during autopsy for example, but the relevant consent will need to be given before the samples can be used for this purpose.

Does the mother need to be tested for a paternity test?

With paternity testing it is best to test the child, alleged father AND the mother. It IS still possible to determine the probability of paternity without testing the mother, but the probability percentage of the results can be greater if they are tested.

The results provided without testing the mother may still have a high percentage of probability of paternity for the alleged father but testing the mother too may be the difference between providing an inconclusive or a fully conclusive result of probability. All of the tests are accurate, but when the child, alleged father and the mother are tested it can reduce the need for interpretation of results.

How accurate is the testing?

The results of paternity testing are extremely accurate, especially if the testing also involves the mother (see above). No paternity test available can claim 100% probability of paternity but this does not mean that they are not accurate.

We can proudly state that our paternity testing can determine a probability of paternity of over 99.99%. Our results are extremely accurate at determining the probably of paternity. However, it is important to consider the difference between words such as ‘conclusive results’, ‘probability of paternity’ and ‘accuracy’.

To clarify, anywhere that claims that it can give 100% probability of paternity (rather than ‘accuracy’) may be being more than misleading. Be sure to look for the percentage of probability as well as the accuracy because all companies will claim to be accurate.

AlphaBiolabs is a UKAS ISO 17025 accredited laboratory, the sole national body recognised for international quality requirements for laboratories, so you can be assured that we adhere to the highest of standards in the DNA testing industry.

Are the results confidential?

Our testing is 100% confidential. We follow strict procedures from start to finish with all of our sample collection. We will not disclose results or personal information to third parties and we password protect all of the data so we will only discuss any details of the testing with those who are entitled to know (on receipt of correct passwords or answers to unique security questions).

Why should I use AlphaBiolabs for DNA testing rather than any other company?

There are a number of reasons why you should use AlphaBiolabs for DNA testing. There are perhaps too many to mention them all and in great detail here. But here are just a few reasons:

  • We provide peace of mind DNA test results within the next working day as standard
  • We provide legal DNA test results within 3 working days as standard
  • We are UKAS ISO 17025 accredited, which means our results can be used in courts (and for the CSA and immigration cases)

Our friendly customer service can give you any advice about your DNA testing needs and experts are at hand to explain anything (such as what your DNA test results mean etc.)

  • We are 100% confidential and our DNA test kits are delivered in discreet packaging
  • We can price match a like-for-like DNA testing quote (or beat it by 5%)
  • We have our own team of fully qualified sample collections that provide a premium level of service nationwide
  • AlphaBiolabs have been operational for over 20 years, employing experts with many years of experience and uses the latest technology for DNA testing

Feel free to explore this website for further information on each of these great reasons to use AlphaBiolabs for your DNA testing.

Alternatively, give our friendly customer service team a call on 0333 600 1300 to ask any questions you might have on this or any other DNA or Drugs & Alcohol testing related questions.

Does taking the sample hurt?

In most cases DNA testing samples can be taken using a mouth swab, which is rubbed on the inside of the cheek and is totally painless.

Some DNA tests do require taking blood, such as prenatal testing. However, this is done non-invasively and will not disturb or harm the baby in any way as the DNA is analysed from the mother’s blood stream. Please see (Prenatal Testing) for more information on this particular subject.

I am afraid of needles, can I still take a DNA test?

In most cases with DNA testing can be taken using a mouth swab, which is rubbed on the inside of the cheek and is totally painless.

Is a blood sample required?

A sample of saliva collected from a mouth swab is the most common form of sample collection required. However there are some circumstances where a blood sample may be required, not necessarily with a needle or syringe being used (see above).

Why would I use a DNA test kit?

If you only need a DNA test for peace of mind (results for your own knowledge and not needed for court) then a home DNA testing kit may be a more convenient method of DNA testing. The kit will be sent to an address of your choice within discreet packaging and can be self-administered at a time that is suitable to you.

As long as you do not open the packaging containing the swabs until necessary the kit can be kept until you choose to take the sample. This can give you more time to organise everyone who is to be tested for example because it is designed to be used at a time that is convenient to you.

Once the samples are sent to us in the envelope provided and received at our laboratory we will provide the results the next working day so you will soon have the answers you need.

Although the kits are cheaper than legal testing they are just as accurate and are still kept 100% confidential, the differences are that the sample collection can be self-administered but they cannot be used in court (or for the CSA or immigration purposes).

Therefore you would use a DNA kit if…

  • You want a great price for a DNA test for peace of mind that does not need to be used in court
  • You would prefer to self-administer the sample collection process at your own convenience for peace of mind DNA testing
  • You need next working day results as standard for a peace of mind DNA test
  • You don’t want to order online or have the DNA testing kit sent to your address, they are available at 290 Home Bargain stores across the country
  • You want 100% confidentiality with the same level of accuracy as a legal DNA test but to be used for your own knowledge rather than legal cases

How do I interpret the results/will I receive help afterwards?

In cases where the results are conclusive (either 0% or above 99% probability of paternity) the interpretation may seem pretty straightforward.

However, even results with very high or low extremes of percentages can be a bit more confusing for people to interpret. Whenever you have ordered a test with us we are available to help you every step of the way.

If you require any help then you can contact our friendly team who can advise you on what the results indicate in an easy to understand manner.

What happens to the DNA sample once the testing is done?

The DNA sample itself is kept for 3 months and the results of the tests are kept for 12 months. One of the reasons they are kept after testing is to allow for any retesting if required.

These time frames comply with all the necessary legislation (such as the Data Protection Act and Human Tissue Act).

Last reviewed: 02/10/2023

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