You might be curious about your ancestral roots, eager to understand your genetic health risks or want to discover potential relatives. Despite the allure, diving into the world of DNA testing can be daunting. Privacy concerns and the difficulty of interpreting results can make the experience less straightforward.
I’ve put my own saliva on the line by testing multiple DNA kits to spare you trial and error. I evaluated each kit based on accuracy, privacy policies, ease of use, and the depth of information provided. From this, I’ve shortlisted the top options to help you make an informed decision.
I recommend AncestryDNA as the most reliable and comprehensive choice. Its vast database enhances the accuracy of ancestry tracking, the user-friendly interface simplifies the process, and its privacy settings allow you to control your data. This kit stands out for delivering a well-rounded experience that meets most needs.
Short on time? Here are the best DNA tests in 2023
- AncestryDNA – Best DNA test kit overall; largest sample database in the world to match with relatives easily; prices start at $99.
- MyHeritage – Best DNA kit for its affordable prices (starting at $89); great family tree builder.
- Living DNA – Best DNA kit for getting meal and exercise plans as well as ancestry information; prices start at $99.
- 23andMe– Best for finding relatives and tracing your ancestry through ancient history; prices start at $89.
- FamilyTreeDNA – Best DNA test kit for tracing maternal and paternal lineage; prices start at $79.
- Nebula Genomics – Best for whole genome sequencing and in-depth genome analysis; prices start at $249.
Our Best 2023 DNA Test Kits Reviewed
- More than 19 billion DNA samples to easily match with relatives
- Trace ethnicity across 77 regions and groups
- Over 20 billion historical records to browse
- Get results in 4-6 weeks
- Prices start at $99
AncestryDNA stands out for its extensive database of over 19 billion samples. This means it’s easier for you to find and connect with relatives you might not even know you have. The process is straightforward: a saliva sample is all it takes to start delving into your genetic history. You send it off in a prepaid package, and within a few weeks, you receive an online report detailing your lineage and possible family connections.
The platform stands out for its user-friendly online interface, which offers intuitive navigation to features such as ethnicity estimates and DNA matches. The presentation of results is straightforward, providing clear insights without requiring specialized knowledge in genetics. Your DNA information is securely stored and has been certified by external regulatory bodies, ensuring no personal data is shared without your consent. You also have control over the visibility of your family tree.
However, it’s worth noting that AncestryDNA does not include health-related services, a feature available with some other providers like LivingDNA. But for those focused on uncovering their ancestry and creating a family tree, this absence of health analysis may not pose a major issue. AncestryDNA is proficient in delivering a comprehensive and precise understanding of your genetic heritage.
AncestryDNA offers various subscription plans that complement the DNA test by granting you access to their extensive collection of historical records and family trees. One popular option is the U.S. Discovery package, which focuses on American records. If you’re interested in global records, the World Explorer package broadens the scope to include international data. The All Access plan provides a more comprehensive offering, including records from other services like Newspapers.com and Fold3, a resource for military records.
|Largest database of DNA samples in the world
|Health testing not available
|Easy testing and fast results
- Search through 19.4 billion of records
- Bring your ancestors to life with photos, music videos, and more
- Great for tracing ancestry in Europe
- Results within 4 weeks
- Prices start at $89
MyHeritage offers a cost-effective approach to DNA testing, providing a range of features without breaking the bank. With a simple cheek swab, you can send your DNA for analysis. Within three to four weeks, you’ll receive a detailed ancestry report and an ethnicity estimate via their online portal. This makes it an accessible choice for those new to DNA testing. If you already took a DNA test but you want some extra data, you can submit your raw DNA results to its platform for free and get your reports within 48 hours.
One of the standout features is the DNA Matching service. It automatically compares your DNA to others in the MyHeritage database, helping you identify relatives you might not know about. This goes hand-in-hand with their extensive family tree builder, which makes visualizing your lineage straightforward.
In terms of database size, MyHeritage falls a bit short when compared to AncestryDNA. However, it compensates for this with its robust international data sets. If your lineage has roots outside the United States, you might find that MyHeritage provides a more thorough investigation into your global ancestry.
Another beneficial feature is the Quick Ethnic Estimate, a video that interprets your DNA sample in real-time, giving you immediate insights into your ethnic background. This makes it one of the quickest ways to get a snapshot of your genetic heritage. You’ll also get free access to family-building tools and some records.
|Free family tree building + cheap prices
|Health testing not available anymore
|Diverse ethnic groups and a good European user base
|Allows data access to law enforcement
|Upload DNA data for free
- Traces your DNA to sub-regions in Europe, Africa, and the British Isles
- Predicts your ancestry from the last 500 years to the present day
- Screen for health and wellness, including vitamin needs and food metabolism, with the combined kit
- Both reports ready in just 6-8 weeks
- Prices start at $119
Living DNA specializes in providing detailed regional breakdowns, particularly for Africa, Europe, and the British Isles. With coverage spanning over 150 worldwide regions and an even finer focus on sub-regions, it gives you a granular look at your ancestry. After you send in your saliva sample, you’ll receive a comprehensive report that pinpoints your heritage, often down to a specific region like a county in England.
One of the notable features is the wealth of historical context it provides. Your online report includes interactive maps with color-coded migration lines, migration maps, and haplogroup information. This information shows you where each side of your family comes from, enhancing your understanding of your genetic makeup.
Compared to other services, Living DNA offers a longer view into your family history, tracing your lineage back 500 years. The online dashboard allows you to explore your ancestors’ movements around the globe. While this historical reach may not be as extensive as Ancestry or MyHeritage, it makes up for it by offering a detailed health and wellness test at no extra charge.
This health component analyses your genetic response to vitamins, and food metabolism rates, and even offers personalized exercise recommendations. So, not only do you get insights into your ancestral past, but also valuable information that can guide your lifestyle choices today.
Finally, whether you opt for the ancestry or health and wellness test, Living DNA offers free return shipping for your sample. You can expect to receive your detailed online report within 6-8 weeks of submitting your sample.
|Meal and exercise plans with health reports
|Smaller user database (less samples)
|Granular focus on sub-regions
|Customer support a bit limited
|Trace your lineage 500 years back
|Slightly more expensive than competitors
- Compares your DNA against 45 known populations
- Traces your DNA across 2750+ regions
- Includes traits report with its basic screening
- See if you have Neanderthal ancestry
- Results in 3 to 4 weeks
23andMe offers a comprehensive Ancestry Composition feature that breaks down your DNA across 2750+ regions worldwide, allowing you to trace your lineage and understand the geographical spread of your ancestors. It uses advanced DNA analysis to pinpoint where your ancestors came from, giving you a detailed view of your genetic makeup. This feature helps you connect with your heritage by showing the percentages of your DNA that come from different regions.
The Ancestor Locations tool within 23andMe utilizes both your DNA results and historical data from other users who share your genetic traits. It identifies specific locations where your ancestors might have lived, enhancing the precision of your ancestral search. By analyzing shared DNA segments with others, it offers insights into where your ancestors called home, providing a more nuanced understanding of your lineage.
23andMe’s DNA Relatives feature enables you to find and connect with living relatives based on shared DNA. It’s an opt-in tool that shows you other users who share DNA segments with you, indicating potential familial relationships. This feature allows you to expand your understanding of your family tree and potentially discover relatives you were unaware of, facilitating connections with your extended family.
The Maternal and Paternal Haplogroups analysis traces your lineage back to specific groups of ancestors, explaining their migration patterns over thousands of years. By identifying your haplogroups, it provides insights into the deep ancestry of your maternal and paternal lines, illustrating the historical journeys that led to your existence. This feature connects you to the ancient past, offering a glimpse into the movements and stories of your distant ancestors.
|Creates a family tree of all the people who share your DNA for you
|Doesn’t take into account your lifestyle when delivering health reports
|Identifies your risk of certain diseases
|Slightly more expensive without discounts
|Offers accurate ancestry data down to 0.1% specificity
- Maps your ethnic origins with accurate percentages and geographical maps
- Deeper ancestry insights that show which DNA you share with ancient European groups
- Family finder finds your DNA paternal and maternal matches
- Results in as little as 2 weeks
- Prices start at $119
FamilyTreeDNA offers specialized Y-DNA and mtDNA tests, allowing you to trace both your male and female ancestral lines separately. After submitting a cheek swab, you get a report that takes your heritage back to its African roots and details your family’s migratory paths. The service also provides insights into the history of your surname.
What sets FamilyTreeDNA apart is its focus on detailed ethnicity percentages, based on over 60 populations. The test can even detect regions that constitute less than 1% of your DNA. This is complemented by an interactive map and historical facts for each region, enriching your understanding of your lineage.
Compared to mainstream services like AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA delves deeper into ancient times. Although its database may not be as extensive, it offers unique insights into whether you carry autosomal DNA for ancient European groups like neolithic hunters, early farmers, and bronze-age invaders.
Another feature worth noting is the family finder tool, which scans its database for DNA matches, allowing you to organize relatives by maternal and paternal lines. The service also includes a chromosome browser that shows precisely which DNA segments you share with your matches.
FamilyTreeDNA supports data uploads from AncestryDNA and 23andMe, expanding your options for analysis. Depending on the test you choose, you can expect your results in 2-8 weeks. This flexibility and depth make FamilyTreeDNA a valuable tool for anyone looking to explore beyond standard ancestral timelines.
|Separate maternal and paternal DNA testing
|Smaller user database
|Shipping available almost worldwide
|Law enforcement can see your data without a warrant
|Stores data for up to 25 years (you can test again later)
|Some privacy concerns
- Decodes more of your DNA than other companies
- Report covers 27 health traits and behaviors
- Genome explorer helps you learn more about your genetic variants
- Bonus ancestry information including haplogroup mapping
Nebula Genomics offers 30 x whole-genome sequencing, which means it decodes all of your DNA to identify every genetic marker you carry. This does come at a price, though. The individual kits are quite expensive, and you also have to pay a regular subscription fee on top of that.
For that fee, you do get comprehensive health testing with some ancestry information thrown in, too. It screens for 27 health traits relating to various aspects of your wellness. We learned about factors like earwax type, freckling, snacking behavior, nicotine response, and muscle strength.
It takes a while to get your reports –we had to wait 13 weeks.
We liked that your health traits are categorized into four buckets: appearance and hormones, behavior and perception, body and athleticism, and nutrition and diet. It makes your report easy to navigate.
Nebula comes with a research library which is a feature we haven’t seen before. This allows you to explore your genetic variants yourself, analyze your genomes, and read articles relating to your DNA. Some of it is quite technical, though.
Alongside health, you get some ancestry information which includes mtDNA and Y-DNA mapping. This means you can see how both sides of your family moved around the globe and where your heritage comes from.
|Analyzes 100% of your DNA
|Stringent privacy policies
|Sometimes the results are confusing
|Super detailed results
|No genetic counseling
- Tests over 83 million genetic variants
- Subscription service with access to 350 reports
- Pro Connect model allows your health practitioner to order lab work, see your results, & more
- Recommendations on supplements you can buy through the platform
SelfDecode lets you upload raw DNA data from AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, and Courtagen, which saves you the usual waiting time of 6-8 weeks. When we tested it, we got our chosen reports instantly. You will get over 350 reports, including health reports for all major categories, diet and nutrition reports, biohacker reports, and personality reports.
You can also take a DNA test with SelfDecode and get an analysis of over 83 million genetic variants. SelfDecode also partnered with Lab Test Analyzer, so you can also order lab works through this platform and with its Pro Connect model, allow your doctor to order tests for you, analyze them, or see your results.
We were impressed by the list of kits covering mental wellbeing, too. You can learn about stress, mood, anxiety, and cognitive function. Additionally, SelfDecode incorporates a Lifestyle questionnaire which gives them further insight and more information to deliver accurate results.
We found our reports to be quite detailed, with plenty of actionable recommendations tailored to our researcher’s genes. It tells you which biomarkers were tested and the genetic variant you carry, which is useful if you plan on taking your results to your doctor. SelfDecode will also give you recommendations for supplements based on your results, and you can purchase them through the platform. And with SelfDecode’s app, you can build your own meal plan.
- Female and male-specific health and wellness tests, plus STD kits
- Screens for fertility, vitamin needs, cancer risk, heart health, and more
- Qualified nurses on-hand to talk you through your results and offer advice
- Results in just 2-5 days
LetsGetChecked has many tests designed specifically for males and females. You can find tests for fertility, ovarian reserve, diabetes, vitamins, and even food allergies. You can also screen for your risk of colon cancer.
LetsGetChecked also has a huge range of budget-friendly, at-home STD tests, that allow you to screen your sexual health, privately, in the comfort of your own home. We like these especially for their discreet packaging and quick results!
It only takes a matter of days to get your results after a simple swab, urine, or finger-prick blood sample. When we tested it, the instructions were really clear and easy to follow for all sample collection methods.
When your results are ready, your report is published on your secure online account, which you can access via the online web portal or mobile app. We got an email to let us know.
Some tests (especially STD tests) even include a phone call with a nurse to discuss your results. They give you advice on what steps to take and in some cases, can give you a prescription.
Our researcher’s report was highly detailed, showing exactly what they were at risk of and where to make lifestyle changes. It even gives you easy-to-follow, actionable tips so you can start making changes right away.
LetsGetChecked’s health tests are speedy, too. From your sample arriving in the lab, it typically takes only 2-5 days to deliver your results.
- Valuable insights into your nutrition and health
- Screens for intolerances and allergies
- Meal and exercise plans
- Results in 4 weeks
If you’re looking for a powerful tool to take control of your dietary habits, then the My Toolbox Geonomics’ DNA kit is exactly what you need. With this kit, you’ll receive valuable insights into your deficiencies, metabolism, taste preferences, and meal planning. The best part is that it’s all customized just for you, so you can make informed decisions about your nutrition.
Once you send in your sample to the testing lab, you can expect the process to take around four weeks. However, the wait is well worth it. By analyzing more than 50 genes and 26 traits, this kit provides you with a personalized nutrition plan aligned with your objectives. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, build muscle, or improve your overall health, this kit has got you covered.
Another great feature of the My Toolbox Geonomics’ DNA kit is the customized 7-day meal plan. This plan is tailored to your unique needs and preferences, including easy-to-follow recipes complete with calorific information. While it doesn’t provide macronutrient information, the meal plan includes actionable tips to help you optimize your diet, such as incorporating oily fish, using different cooking oils, or drinking fiber-rich smoothies for breakfast. You also have access to the genotype test results behind each recommendation.
In addition to identifying nutritional deficiencies and recommending supplements, the My Toolbox Geonomics’ DNA kit also screens for intolerances, particularly gluten. It even evaluates your sensitivity to caffeine and alcohol, providing guidance on consumption limits. With this information at your fingertips, you can make informed decisions about what to eat and drink, leading to better overall health.
The My Toolbox Geonomics’ DNA kit also offers tailored exercise information, including a fitness routine with comprehensive instructions for every exercise, workout frequency, and rest days. This personalized exercise plan will help you get on the right track towards achieving your fitness goals.
- Tests your stress levels, sleep quality, food intolerances, and environmental allergies
- Offers personalized advice on lifestyle changes to improve your health
- At-home STD testing available with subscription options
- Results take 5 days
Everlywell has a huge variety of at-home wellness tests that screen every aspect of your health. There are tests for sleep, stress, hormones, heart health, fertility, and allergies. In fact, you have over 35 tests to choose from.
You get a highly detailed report that shows every genetic marker screened for and your results. For example, when we took the sleep and stress test, we could see whether cortisol levels are high, low, or medium, with actionable advice on what to change.
Allergy screening can help you understand which intolerances you may have so you can alter your diet and food to improve your health.
And the metabolism test evaluates the three key hormones that your body needs to maintain a healthy metabolism, and how this might affect your energy and weight.
Our researcher found taking the test quick and easy, with just saliva or finger-prick blood samples. And you get free returns to the lab.
Your sample is reviewed by independently-certified physicians, then uploaded to your online dashboard. Usually, this is around 5 days after the lab receives your sample. But we got ours in two days.
You can buy various at-home STD tests, too. There’s the option to buy a subscription, so you can choose which STD tests you want, and they’re delivered to your door every month. It also means they’re cheaper.
Best DNA Kits: Comparison Table
|Ships Outside of US
Health & Wellness
Diet & Fitness
|Health & Wellness
|Health & Wellness
Diet & Fitness
|Health & Wellness
|Finger-prick blood test
|Health & Wellness
Diet & Fitness
|Finger-prick blood test
How We Tested the DNA Kits
In order to determine the DNA testing companies that offer the best service and most accurate information, we went through the experience of being customers ourselves. It’s important to note that we didn’t receive any “free tests” in exchange for positive reviews. Instead, we personally took the tests to provide an unbiased assessment.
Here’s exactly what we evaluated in each test:
- Ease of Use: We examined the kits for their user-friendly design, fast shipping, clear instructions, and simple collection methods to ensure a hassle-free experience.
- Result Accuracy: We ensured that the tests were conducted in accredited labs known for delivering reliable and precise results that you can trust.
- Turnaround Time: We considered the speed at which the results were provided to avoid prolonged waiting periods.
- Detailed Reports: We scrutinized the reports for their comprehensive and highly informative nature, ensuring they offered useful insights and all the necessary information you need.
- Customer Support: We assessed the availability and quality of customer support channels to ensure that assistance is readily available when needed.
By thoroughly examining these factors, we aimed to provide an objective evaluation of the DNA testing companies, enabling you to make an informed decision based on reliable information.
When Did DNA Testing Start?
Home-based DNA testing began in the late 1990s with GeneTree, a company later acquired by AncestryDNA, which offered one of the best ancestry tests at the time. These early tests were limited, tracing only single generations, but they laid the groundwork for a burgeoning industry.
FamilyTreeDNA became the first company dedicated to direct-to-consumer ancestry testing in 2000 by collaborating with the University of Arizona. They introduced Y-DNA and mtDNA tests that allowed people to identify paternal and maternal lineages, a groundbreaking concept despite the tests’ limited scope and fewer genetic markers compared to today’s standards.
In 2007, 23andMe transformed the DNA testing market by introducing at-home saliva tests for ancestry using autosomal testing, which became the new benchmark for genealogical DNA testing. AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, and 23andMe are now key providers of these ancestry tests worldwide.
Following the early achievements of these companies and advances in genome mapping technology, home-based DNA testing has expanded into a substantial industry. Today’s DNA tests cover various aspects, from food allergies and emotional health to genetic disease risks, and there are even tests available for pets.
What Can a DNA Test Tell You?
A DNA test reveals detailed information about your genetic composition. It determines your ethnic background by showing the percentages of your ancestry from different global regions, such as finding out you are part European, Asian, or African. Many services offer further breakdown into smaller regions for a more comprehensive view of your heritage.
Additionally, DNA testing helps you locate relatives. It compares your DNA to others in a database, potentially uncovering distant or unknown family members. These services often indicate how closely you’re related and the exact DNA segments you share.
For those curious about ancient lineage, some DNA tests can trace your roots back to early civilizations, indicating connections to groups like the Vikings or Roman soldiers. They may focus on maternal (mtDNA) or paternal (Y-DNA) lines for more specific ancestral information.
Health-related DNA tests examine genetic markers linked to various health conditions and traits, such as disease risk or nutrient metabolism. This information can be pivotal for lifestyle adjustments or medical decisions.
Moreover, many DNA testing services update your results as their databases expand, providing an ever-improving picture of your genetic profile. In essence, DNA tests offer a comprehensive view of your identity, grounded in your genetic heritage.
One of the primary features of a DNA test is the ethnicity estimate. By analyzing specific markers in your DNA, the test can break down your ancestry into percentages related to global regions. For example, your report may indicate that you’re 40% East Asian, 30% European, and 30% African. This gives you a general idea of where your ancestors come from and forms the basis for deeper exploration into your heritage.
Genetic matching is another core feature. The DNA test compares your genetic data to a database of other users to identify relatives. This could range from immediate family members to distant cousins. Usually, the service will show how much DNA you share with your matches and may categorize them by the degree of your relationship, such as first cousin or second cousin once removed.
Some DNA tests offer specialized Y-DNA and mtDNA testing, which allows you to trace your paternal and maternal lines separately. These tests often delve deep into history, tracing lineage back to ancient civilizations or even specific ancient groups like Vikings or Roman soldiers. Knowing your maternal and paternal lineages can provide a more comprehensive view of your ancestry.
Certain tests provide detailed information on how your ancestors migrated over time. These often come in the form of interactive maps that show migration routes your forebears likely took. Some even include historical facts or timelines that give context to these migrations, helping you understand the forces that shaped your family’s past.
Some DNA services supplement genetic data with access to historical records or family documents. These can include birth certificates, marriage licenses, or even military service records. These documents can help corroborate the genetic data, making your family history more robust and complete.
Genetic Health Risks
Health-focused DNA tests screen for genetic markers associated with various medical conditions and traits. From this, you can get an idea of your risk levels for certain diseases, how your body processes certain nutrients, and even your carrier status for conditions like cystic fibrosis. While not a replacement for professional medical advice, this information can be valuable for making informed lifestyle choices.
How to Choose the Best DNA Test for You
With so many DNA tests out there, it can be overwhelming to find the one that’s right for you. Here’s our roundup of the best DNA tests in each category to help you decide.
Many ancestry DNA tests like Ancestry perform an autosomal test, meaning they look for genetic patterns across your chromosomes. This is great for everyone, regardless of biological sex, to identify overall ethnic percentages and even uncover some fun things about your DNA.
Some ancestry tests also analyze Y-DNA and mtDNA; if you’re interested, Living DNA is a great option. These look for patterns in your Y and X chromosomes, which help trace your paternal and maternal lineage. With these tests, you can see where in the world your family comes from and even discover migration maps.
If you’re studying your heritage because you want to find DNA matches and perform genealogical research, you should look for an ancestry testing service like AncestryDNA that allow you to contact genetic matches and build a family tree.
2. Family Tree Builders
AncestryDNA has the best family tree builder available. It performs genetic testing, allows you to contact genetic matches, has an extensive database of historical documents needed for advanced genealogical research, and allows you to easily build and share a family tree. They even send you hints and tips to help you find matches and records.
3. Health and Wellness
Health and wellness tests explore how your DNA impacts your predisposition for certain diseases, as well as whether you might carry the genes for specific health conditions.
Companies like EverlyWell and LetsGetChecked use finger-prick blood tests instead of saliva samples to more closely look at a person’s current health, testing for things like hormonal balance, food allergies, and vitamin levels.
4. Diet and Fitness
Diet and fitness DNA tests see how your body processes the nutrients it receives from food and exercise. A DNA test like Living DNA tells you which foods you should be eating for optimal nutrition, based on your body’s specific needs.
It actually gives you a list of over 100 foods. You can also learn which foods to avoid, whether you might have any intolerances, and, depending on which test you choose, get personalized meal plans.
DNA tests like Living DNA give you personalized workout recommendations so you can maximize your body’s performance based on your genetic type. It tells you which exercises to do and when, for how long, and even how your body builds muscle and recovers from exercise.
5. STD Tests
You can test for a number of STDs like HIV, syphilis, and chlamydia with at-home testing kits. Instead of going through the trouble and awkwardness of making a doctor’s appointment, you can screen your sexual health at home.
Both EverlyWell and LetsGetChecked are great choices, with a huge list of individual STD tests and bundle kits. They’re both delivered in discreet packaging to your door, with a simple swab, urine, or finger-prick blood sample. And they can give you your results in a matter of days.
6. Pet DNA
Your pets also have unique DNA that can be used to determine their breed type, the likelihood of shedding, coat length, and patterning.
Apart from satisfying your curiosity, knowing the ethnic heritage of your four-legged friend can help you to increase their overall health by giving them the right kind of food, activity, and medical treatment that their breed requires.
DNA tests like Embark and Wisdom Panel can tell you which breeds are in your dog’s genetic makeup over four generations, their breed characteristics and personality type, and even their risk of health conditions.
Are There Any Risks Associated with DNA Tests?
In general, no. There are no physical risks associated with taking a DNA test. That said, for precautionary measures, you should consult with your doctor before taking a DNA test while pregnant.
However, there are some dangers of DNA testing. For example, if you send off your unique genetic code to a fake DNA testing company, it is possible that it could steal your DNA information, your payment information, and maybe even your overall identity.
We’ve tested over 100 DNA kits and all the companies on this list are 100% safe and legitimate.
Please remember that consumer-based health and wellness DNA testing is not a substitute for medical advice. You still need to consult with a medical professional before starting or changing any kind of medical regimen.
DNA Testing and Privacy Issues
In general, when you hand over your DNA to a testing company, you give permission for it to use your DNA sample to further its research and testing capabilities. Your DNA is always anonymized before any kind of research or analysis takes place.
That said, some DNA testing companies also have policies in place that allow law enforcement to access your DNA sample if they have a legitimate and legal reason to do so.
In 2018, police were able to catch a wanted serial killer through DNA samples his distant family members had submitted through the open-source genealogy website GEDmatch. Some people view this kind of thing as an invasion of privacy, and this has sparked a large debate over whether or not consumer DNA testing is actually secure. And there is still no legal consensus on whether or not DNA taken from a DNA test company can legally be used in court to identify a suspect.
That said, almost 100% of the time, your DNA is safe, private, and anonymous. It only has the potential to be used against you if you buy through an untrustworthy company or if you do something illegal.
How to Order and Take a DNA Test
The first step is identifying which DNA test you need to take. After you’ve compared the best DNA tests and found the one you want, here’s how to order and take a DNA test:
Place an order through the website
Provide a physical address where the testing kit can be mailed
Perform the test as instructed on the packaging of the testing kit
Return the testing kit to the testing company (some companies include a pre-paid envelope while others require you to get your own postage)
Wait for your test to be processed (usually, around 2-4 weeks, though some tests have a waiting period of up to 8 weeks)
Receive and review your results, either via mail or an online system
Which At-Home DNA Tests Is the Best Value for Money?
Some companies might give out a lot of information for a cheap price, but if that information is not useful to you or is not accurate, it’s irrelevant how much the test costs.
- For ancestry DNA tests, Ancestry is our top choice for its detailed ancestry analysis and family tree builder software.
- Choose Living DNA for diet recommendations, because it tells you which foods to eat and avoid, tests for any intolerances, and gives you personalized vitamin ideas.
- For health and wellness DNA tests, Everlywell is a great option, with its discreet medical tests that offer precise information about your physical health.
- For pet DNA tests, Embark is our favorite as it identifies your dog’s ethnic makeup and maximizes its health based on its unique genetic factors.
How does DNA testing work?
DNA testing works in a number of ways depending on which type of DNA test you’re taking.
In its simplest form, DNA testing works like this:
- If you’re taking an ancestry test, the laboratory compares your DNA sample against another DNA sample that is known to have certain qualities (like belonging to a certain ethnicity).
- If you’re taking a health and wellness test, the laboratory looks for certain genetic signatures that are medically known to produce a certain kind of effect (like predisposing you to a certain disease).
How accurate is DNA testing?
Most genetic testing companies advertise a 99% accuracy rate. Depending on the type of test you take, this could be even as high as 99.9%. Remember, it’s impossible to get a test that’s 100% accurate. We’ve thoroughly tested all of the companies on this list and found them to be very accurate.
How much does a DNA test cost?
The cost of a DNA test is dependent on a lot of different things, like what type of test it is, what information you’re getting, and whether or not the company is reputable.
In general, for a basic ancestry DNA test, you shouldn’t spend more than a couple of hundred dollars. For example, you can get an AncestryDNA test kit for $59 and MyHeritage for only $39 with its flash sale. Some companies bundle ancestry testing with health and wellness testing, and this can raise the price substantially.
Overall, for a detailed ancestry test coupled with a pretty detailed health and wellness test, you won’t need to pay more than $300.
Which DNA test has the largest database?
Right now, AncestryDNA has the largest ancestry DNA database in the world with over 18 million samples. It also has over 20 billion historical records.
What is an ethnicity estimate?
Your DNA contains unique genetic markers that, when compared with other DNA samples, can be used to identify common patterns in ethnic heritage.
The ethnicity estimates you receive from a DNA test are based on similarities with other DNA tests from a known geographic and ethnic lineage. This provides a controlled and correlated estimate of which part of the world and which ethnic group your DNA originated from.
Can I take my DNA health test results to a doctor?
Absolutely! Not only can you, but you should also take your DNA results to a doctor.
You and your doctor can review the DNA test results and come up with a proper treatment for you based on your specific genetic makeup. Any information you can provide about your body’s biological makeup will be extremely useful for a doctor when treating you, especially when it comes to your risk of health conditions.
How long does an ancestry DNA test take?
There are many different DNA tests available for ancestry, and their turnaround times vary widely. For instance, Ancestry is one of the fastest, typically giving you your results in 2-4 weeks. You can expect to wait as long as 8 weeks for some other ancestry tests, though.
What do my DNA ancestry results mean?
After you take an ancestry DNA test and send in your sample, the testing company analyzes and interprets your DNA, then sends you a report – either posted on its website, via a mobile app, or through a PDF or even a printed book.
At a minimum, an ancestry DNA test estimates what percentage of your ancestry comes from various ethnicities and where in the world those ancestors probably originated. It tells you that you’re 38% one ethnicity and 15% another ethnicity, for example.
Most ancestry tests go a little further by also giving you a list of your genetic matches, based on people’s DNA they hold in their database. Essentially, these people are your relatives, such as your 3rd cousin, great-uncle, 2nd aunt, or something else.
More comprehensive ancestry reports can cover additional things – like what maternal and paternal haplogroups you’re descended from, going back hundreds of thousands of years.
What do ancestry DNA test results look like?
Ancestry tests always deliver some sort of report that summarizes and explains findings. Usually, this is a PDF report through an online dashboard, but it might be a combination. For example, you can get interactive maps to trace heritage and haplogroup lineage with a service like AncestryDNA. Some even have mobile apps.
Your report usually includes a breakdown of all the ethnicities in your DNA with percentages. These are typically reflected on a heat map so you can visualize your heritage around the world and learn more about each location.
Most ancestry DNA test reports also show you which biomarkers were tested and the exact genetic variant you carry.