Ethnicity estimates are an important part of exploring your heritage. Using thousands of geographical regions and reference populations, many at-home DNA tests allow you to check your ethnicity while diving deeper into your ancestors’ history.
But how do you know which test is the right one? There’s no point in investing your time and money in a test that can’t tell you what you need to know. So I’ve done the digging for you.
I’ve rounded up the best ethnicity percentage tests that come with accurate insights, detailed reports, and a few added extras too. Our #1 pick is Ancestry for its accuracy and quick, detailed results.
Short on time? Here are the best ethnicity estimates
- AncestryDNA – Its interactive tools reveal where your ancestors lived and cover 60 reference populations.
- Living DNA – Y-DNA and mtDNA analysis to show ancestors’ migration paths and specialization in British, Irish, and African regions.
- Plus four more ethnicity genetic tests | See how each test compares | FAQs
What We Look for in the Best Ethnicity Estimate Tests
There are lots of features and details to sort through when looking for panels to check your ethnicity. These are the factors we considered to narrow down the best ethnicity percentage tests:
- Reference populations: The closer your ancestral origins are to a company’s list of reference populations, the more likely you are to receive an accurate report.
- Tools and features: More than just a report with information, your ethnicity results can dig deeper into your origins and help you with other ancestry projects.
- Results detail: How you navigate your results is important. The information must be clear and understandable, and it’s always a plus if there are creative ways to view your results.
- Raw analysis: Many (but not all) companies give you the option of uploading your raw DNA from another provider for analysis, often at no extra cost.
Detailed Look at the Tests Offered
- Identifies 60 reference populations from 1,000+ regions
- Migration mapping helps you trace your ancestors’ ethnicities
- An interactive map report allows you to pinpoint your heritage
- Results in 6-8 weeks
AncestryDNA looks at over 1,000 global regions for traces of your DNA to show you a more detailed picture of where you came from.
It stands out from others with distinctive features that connect your DNA to geography. With its regional percentage range, you can assess how strong your DNA’s findings support certain areas.
It supports 60 reference populations correlating to thousands of geographical regions, from Sweden to Southern Italy. An interactive map helps you pinpoint the regions in your DNA and learn more about every region in your heritage.
AncestryDNA is one of my favorites for migration mapping. Using your results, it displays migration maps so you can trace your ancestors and understand where your ethnicity percentages come from.
It takes around 6-8 weeks for your report — not the fastest, but typical of these types of tests. But it’s worth the wait because AncestryDNA displays a range of possible percentages in your results. It shows you the least likely number as a possibility to add even more transparency to your report.
- Predicts sub-regional ancestry based on 150 regions
- Specializes in British, European, and African ancestry
- Analyzes mtDNA and Y-DNA with migration maps
- Results in 6-8 weeks
Living DNA may not cover as many regions as other tests, but it specializes in certain areas of the world better. With 21 regions in the British Isles, 9 in Europe, and 72 in Africa, Living DNA offers a greater level of precision for those with British, European, and African ancestry.
It also specializes in sub-regional ancestry. Living DNA gives more detail because it can pinpoint where in a region you’re from, giving you a deeper understanding of your ethnic background.
Within 6-8 weeks, you’ll have a detailed report with ethnicity estimates broken down to 0.1%. You can explore the areas where your ancestors came from using the family ancestry map, with interesting facts about every location.
Living DNA also analyzes mtDNA and Y-DNA to show you your maternal and paternal migration paths, which you can track around the globe.
One huge bonus I found with Living DNA is that it has a free analysis offer. If you already have DNA results from AncestryDNA, 23andMe, or a handful of other companies, you can upload them for a no-cost report covering eight regions around the world and five to six generations.
- Ethnic mapping to 150 geographical regions
- Discover your British and Irish heritage with 21 regions
- Free DNA uploads for basic ethnic percentages
- Results in 6-8 weeks
Findmypast is another company that specializes in British and Irish genealogical research. It traces your DNA to over 150 geographical regions in total, including 21 in Britain and Ireland. It’s actually integrated with Living DNA.
Your report takes 6-8 weeks. In your results, you get an interactive map that allows you to track migration maps from 80,000 years ago — I found this info to be absolutely fascinating.
The service costs slightly more than Living DNA, but it offers you a wealth of historical records that are especially beneficial if you have British and Irish ancestry, including a huge collection of more than nine billion records and newspaper articles.
You can also upload raw DNA data from Living DNA, Ancestry DNA, 23andMe, among others, for free. As with Living DNA, it traces your ethnicity to eight different regions.
If you’re ready to start chronicling your history and connect with ancestors, you can subscribe to Findmypast’s family tree builder. There are three monthly membership levels, and Findmypast will use your DNA results to help you get started.
- 24 reference populations
- See how much DNA you share with ancient Europeans
- Traces DNA to 80 geographical regions
- Results in 6-8 weeks
FamilyTreeDNA’s autosomal test, called Family Finder, offers solid tools for exploring your lineage at an extremely affordable price, with results in 6-8 weeks. It assigns you to one of 24 possible reference populations that reveal historical and genetic events related to your ancestry.
Also included is the ancientOrigins tool, which traces your autosomal DNA back to ancient European civilizations — it looks at DNA found in actual archaeological dig sites throughout Europe. The test can reveal how much of your autosomal DNA contains traces of ancient European groups such as Hunter-Gatherers or Metal Age Invaders.
You can upgrade to the mtDNA and Y-DNA test to explore ancient migration routes with interactive tools. As you’d expect with an upgrade, there’s an extra cost for this.
There are some freebies, though. You can upload raw DNA from several testing companies for free autosomal matches and access to the Family Finder Matrix feature. This lets you compare your DNA with up to ten other matches, but an ethnicity estimate costs extra.
- Maps your ethnicity to 45 populations based on 1,500+ regions
- Breaks down your ethnicity to 0.1%
- Compares your DNA to ancient populations and Neanderthals
- Results in 6-8 weeks
On top of having detailed reports and a long list of regions, 23andMe offers a rich reference panel of 45 populations. It also has one of the largest geographical regions on this list, with over 1,500.
23andMe compares your DNA to over 14,000+ people from populations that existed at least 500 years ago. This improves the accuracy of your results since transcontinental migration was less common in older populations.
Your interactive map report breaks down ethnicity estimates to 0.1% for precise results. It pinpoints specific parts on your genome where 23andMe found traces of your ancestry (broken down by regional populations) and shows you how they relate to one another using the chromosome painting feature.
You can trace your maternal and paternal haplogroups across the globe. Something I found interesting: It also tells you how much of your DNA you share with Neanderthals.
Unfortunately, you can’t upload DNA from other testing services, so you need to buy the DNA test to get your ethnic percentages. Results take 6-8 weeks.
- Maps ethnicity to 25 regions
- Interactive map to explore ancestry
- Health insights included in your test
- Results in 4-6 weeks
Vitagene is a health DNA testing company. Unfortunately, there’s no option to order just an ancestry report by itself; you get (and pay) for health results with every test. Personally, I like the extra insight, and I especially like that results are available in only 4-6 weeks — faster than most other tests.
For the ethnicity estimate, you still get the usual percentage breakdowns and interactive map most companies offer, and the health insights serve as an added bonus. You can learn about things like diet, exercise, and health risks, all based on your genetic makeup.
Your ancestry results are clear and easy to understand. It shows your ethnic percentages across 25 regions, with regional subcategories to give you historical details about your ancestors.
You can also use the interactive map to explore possible locations where your ancestors traveled to and from.
It’s not the most detailed ancestry test, but if you’re hoping to combine health with ancestry in one kit, it’s a good option. It does accept raw DNA data uploads, but only for health reports, so you don’t get any ethnicity insights.
What’s in the Fine Print?
The last thing you want when buying an ethnicity test is to learn about an unexpected fee at checkout or even later. To save you from any unpleasant surprises, these are the extra costs you may see with the tests on my list.
Living DNA and 23andMe both offer express delivery for an extra fee of about $40, although standard delivery is no more than $10. If you don’t want to wait three to five days for standard shipping, make sure you consider the cost of faster delivery. Ancestry DNA offers free shipping.
Some kits offer free insights, such as Living DNA, which allows you to upload existing data to get free ethnicity estimates. Remember that this is a limited service, though, and you don’t benefit from the full DNA analysis. Still, you basically get a free ethnicity test.
FamilyTreeDNA sells all three of its DNA testing kits separately, so if you want ethnicity estimates and mtDNA or Y-DNA mapping, you need to buy all three together.
The majority of the kits on this list offer family tree builders, which are a great way to uncover your past once you have your ancestry results. But there are usually monthly fees for these services, so be prepared for the ongoing payment.
What Will the Results From an Ethnicity Estimate Test Tell Me?
As you’d expect, an ethnicity percentage test allows you to check your ethnicity and trace your heritage over time. You can learn:
- About the ethnicities that make up your DNA, usually down to 0.1%
- How your ancestors moved around the globe
- All about the different geographical regions in your DNA, with historical facts
- About your mtDNA and Y-DNA migration maps
How Do Our Top Picks Compete on Price?
AncestryDNA provides you with a comprehensive package that includes lots of regions, detailed reports, history, and impressive migration route details at an affordable price of about $100.
Priced at£81.01 , Living DNA’s ancestry test is in the same price range as the other tests. With it, you get tons of deep insights including sub-regional mapping, plus specialist and extended ancestry, so it’s very good value for your money.
FamilyTreeDNA’s autosomal test offers several tools, such as the unique ancientOrigins feature to trace your DNA back to ancient European times. The Family Finder test is only £64.65, but remember you have to pay separately for mtDNA and Y-DNA results. Depending on which combination you choose, you’ll pay up to $600 more, making this an expensive choice.
For £64.65 for the base kit and a small upgrade fee of about $20, Findmypast offers everything as FamilyTreeDNA, including ethnicity percentages and haplogroup mapping. Its results may not be as detailed as FamilyTreeDNA’s premium options, but the price is much more attractive.
Which Ethnicity Estimate Test is the Best?
Pick AncestryDNA for its migration routes, regional percentage ranges, and optional travel services (that cost extra) with professional genealogists.
If you wish to explore your British, European, or African ancestry, go with Living DNA. It’s also a great choice for subregional mapping because it goes deeper than a lot of other tests.
Ethnicity Estimate Test Comparison
|Geographical Regions||Interactive Map||mtDNA and Y-DNA Mapping||Time to Results||Starting Price|
|Living DNA||150||✔||✔||6-8 weeks||£81.01|
Uncover Your Ethnicity, Trace Your Ancestry
With an ethnicity test, you can explore your ethnic makeup and learn all about where your ancestors came from. With some tests, you can even track your ancestors’ migration routes around the globe.
The best ethnicity test is Ancestry because it offers all that and more. It can identify your ethnicity percentages down to as little as 0.1% and covers many regions that other tests don’t.
Best Ethnicity Estimates in 2022
How do you read an ethnicity estimate?
While DNA testing companies use complex algorithms to calculate your ethnicity estimate, reading your report is a straightforward process..
Most companies let you select an ethnicity and highlight where that region is on a map — in some cases, they also provide relevant information in a text box about your ancestral origins. In certain cases, you might submit multiple test kits with a single company, in which case you may be able to toggle between your different ethnicity estimates.
What does an ethnicity estimate mean?
Not only can you take a DNA test to see what race you are, but you can also find out how much of your DNA comes from specific regions. The ethnicity estimate is the feature that makes this possible.
Part of what makes the process unique is that your results are always changing. As companies test more customers, your regional percentages can change as a result of improvements. Instead of your results coming to you listed out in a static report, it’s available on a dynamic webpage in your account that updates automatically. Plus, there are useful tools built in to the report that you can use to discover more about your ancestry.
Which is the best ethnicity test: AncestryDNA, or 23andMe?
Each company’s ethnicity estimate is different because of their unique approaches towards calculating your results. There are particular regions a company can specialize in over others or features that no other service offers to help you with genealogy research. Deciding on a test is an important choice that largely depends on your ancestry and what you want out of an ethnicity estimate.
Our best overall ethnicity estimate pick is Ancestry for the way it presents your ethnicity estimate, the standards it uses to determine your results, and the affordable cost.
If you’re still not sure, why not read our comparison? We’ve looked at and compared each test in detail to help you make the right choice.
How accurate is ethnic DNA testing?
The accuracy of your ancestry ethnicity estimate can vary between different companies. This largely depends on your ancestral background and the reference populations available.
A reference population represents a group of actual living individuals (from a single location) who’ve submitted ethnicity genetic tests to a company. Their results greatly impact the results in your ethnicity estimate, as companies compare your DNA to its reference populations. You should aim to test with companies (when possible) that cover reference populations most closely related to your known ancestry.
Which DNA test kit offers the most detailed ancestry DNA test?
The amount of detail that a company’s ethnicity estimate can have may depend on your ancestral background. For example, if you have European or British ancestry, your results with Living DNA will likely contain more details considering that it has an extensive collection of European historical records. AncestryDNA has more reference populations[/affiliate-link] which might find you a more likely match.