Why is consent needed for DNA testing?

Casey Randall AlphaBiolabs

By Casey Randall, Head of Genetics at AlphaBiolabs

Last reviewed: 27/10/2017

In this article, we discuss consent for DNA testing, why consent is needed, and whether you can refuse to consent to a DNA test.
Table of contents
  • Why is consent needed for DNA testing?
  • What consent do I need for a DNA test?
  • Can I do a DNA test without someone knowing?
  • Can I refuse a DNA test?
  • Where can I buy a DNA test?

Can I do a DNA test without someone knowing?

Under UK law, an adult submitting a DNA sample for the purpose of testing must provide their own consent for their DNA sample to be analysed.

This applies for both peace of mind at-home DNA tests and DNA tests for official matters.

Exceptions are:

  • When testing a child under 18 years of age – in these circumstances, a parent or guardian with parental responsibility for the child can provide consent on the child’s behalf
  • When testing the DNA sample of a deceased person – in this instance the person in question cannot give their consent. This means that a person with a qualifying relationship to the deceased must provide consent on their behalf, for the DNA samples to be collected and analysed

It is illegal to perform a DNA test without the appropriate consent.

As a parent or guardian with parental responsibility, you may decide not to discuss the DNA testing process with a child under 16 years of age (for whom you can provide consent).

In these circumstances, there are DNA testing options available for people who require a more ‘discreet’ method of sample collection (e.g. a used toothbrush or nail clippings), where collecting a traditional cheek swab sample (e.g. from an older child under the age of 16) could lead to awkward conversations/questions.

However, even in these circumstances, consent is a legal requirement for proceeding with the DNA test. Please note, our Toothbrush DNA Tests and Nail DNA Tests are for peace of mind only, and the results cannot be used for legal reasons.

In situations involving older children who are able to understand the ramifications of a DNA test, we would always advise that it is better to have an open and honest conversation about your reasons for wanting the test before proceeding.

Can I refuse a DNA test?

Yes, you can refuse to take part in a DNA test if you do not want to provide your DNA sample for any reason.

However, you should be aware that if you are refusing a DNA test for legal reasons, such as during a child maintenance or custody dispute, the court may still decide to order a DNA test.

In these circumstances you could still refuse to participate in the test, but the court would be forced to reach a decision either way without this DNA evidence.

If you are a parent/guardian who is refusing to grant permission for your child’s DNA to be tested for legal matters, the court may override your refusal if it considers that it is in the child’s best interest for the sample to be taken (e.g. during custody disputes).

Where can I buy a DNA test?

It has never been easier to get answers to those all-important questions, with peace of mind DNA testing from AlphaBiolabs.

Our award-winning, UKAS ISO 17025-accredited DNA laboratory has been helping people find out the truth about their family relationships since 2004.

We offer a wide range of DNA tests to suit all circumstances including paternity, non-invasive prenatal paternity (NIPP), maternity, sibling, twin, grandparent, and aunt/uncle tests.

Order your test online now and we will ship your kit out to you immediately in discreet, plain packaging, for full confidentiality.

Need a DNA test for court or other private legal/official matters? Call us on 0333 600 1300, request a quote online, or email testing@alphabiolabs.com to discuss your requirements and request a quote.

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Last reviewed: 08/02/2023
Casey Randall AlphaBiolabs

Casey Randall

Head of DNA and Covid Testing 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.