The Essential Guide to DNA Testing
05 Jun 2017

The Essential Guide to DNA Testing

  • Posted byBrian Kershaw
  • Categories GUIDES HOW TO

Getting a paternity test or another relationship test (i.e. siblings DNA test, grandparent DNA test, and so on) should be pretty straightforward right?

You would think so…

Getting a court-ordered DNA test can take a lot of time, 3-9 months if you wait for the court to take action for you.

Luckily, you can take matters into your own hands and get the DNA test yourself, right away!

Essential Guide to DNA Testing

1. What you need to know first

Time and Money are two important factors with DNA testing.

Often people need a DNA test for child support, social security benefits, or immigration cases.

If you’re one of these people, then you should know the rules of legal DNA tests and why it’s important to understand the process.

If you’ve ever looked for paternity testing as a service, then you should know this:

There are over the counter products that are marketed as “Legal DNA Tests” sold at many pharmacies The problem that many people misuse these products: they do the test themselves. It’s easy to believe that you’re saving money when you buy one of these kits, because they only cost $25 (in most cases).

The truth is that you’re not really saving money or time.

Here’s the thing:

The courts require a chain of custody in order for the results to admitted into court. But many people overlook this important detail and buy the over-the-counter kit anyway and end up testing themselves, thus invalidating their test results and wasting a perfectly good kit.

Even if someone doesn’t test themselves, the mere fact that the person being tested bought the kit can be enough to denied in court.  You will not get your money back in this case!

The turnaround on the over-the-counter DNA Testing Kits is 2 weeks, longer than a DNA Testing Clinic (about 3 business days).

2. Picking the right DNA testing Company

When you search for “paternity testing company” on Google, you will get a list of results for laboratory websites that do paternity testing as well as collectors. Many of the websites require you to call to inquire for rates, which is pretty normal.

Before you call a DNA collector, you should ask these questions:

1. Are you calling a local phone number or a 1-800 number?
2. Does the website look spammy or of poor quality?
3. Do they explain the DNA testing process on their website?
4. Do they numerous locations across multiple states?

Also, you should call the company that has these two things:

The company should have a local phone number. Local businesses often do more for their clients than national chains. You can also trust them to have reliable contacts like attorneys and case managers to make the whole process easier.

The website should be high quality. low-quality sites that are hard to navigate usually spell disaster. Today, online presence is an indicator of competence and quality of service.

Bottom line:

Don’t call a business that has a poor quality site and be careful when calling a 1-800 number. Good user-friendly websites and local phone numbers are signs of a legitimate business.

A site that doesn’t educate you on their products and services shouldn’t be trusted.  A site with only a phone number and no educational content turns into a phone pitch that leads to someone buying a product with uncertainty.

Take the time to read and understand the different DNA tests and what they determine.

DNA Testing Companies that have multiple locations in several different states may indicate that its a DNA brokerage firm. These companies sell, sell, sell. They try to close deals over the phone and often don’t deliver on their promises because of their company infrastructure.

Can a DNA Testing Clinic based out of Phoenix, Arizona provide the same expertise and quality as a local DNA Collection Clinic (in Brooklyn) when it comes references and local facilities like hospitals and social workers?

3. Work with DNA Testing Clinics that can get you in right away

You shouldn’t have to wait in line to get a paternity test. The actual collection appointment only lasts 10-15 minutes. You are seeking benefits that you’re entitled to, you can’t afford any extra time.

Also, make sure that the test results are available within 2-3 business days. Many companies will offer this option.

But make sure that 3 business days is their standard turnaround time and not an upsell (you’d have to pay more if it was).  Most companies will offer the 3 business days option standard in their price, but if you need faster results, you will most likely need to pay extra for 24-hour turnaround.

4. Getting Court Admissible DNA Test Results

Most legal DNA test samples are taken by AABB Certified DNA Collectors. The certification ensures that the person taking the sample is educated on and follows the best collection practices in the business.

The proper way to take a DNA sample using cheek swabs:

1. While using latex gloves, the collector inserts one buccal swab inside each cheek of the DNA test participant.
2. The buccal swabs are rubbed gently against the inner lining of the cheek to make sure that cheek cells are gathered on the cotton head of the swab.
3. After removing the swab, it should be immediately placed in the collection envelope.
4. The DNA test participant and the collector both sign off on the details of the collection.

The collection envelope should be sent in the mail immediately to the AABB Accredited Laboratory. See the list of AABB Accredited Laboratories that we use.

If any of the chain of custody documentation is missing, it could result in the DNA sample being denied admittance in court.

That means you wasted your money. Make sure you work with collectors that follow the collection guidelines set by AABB, this lets you know that the collector is knowledgeable in the best practices of DNA collection.


This blog included a lot of information.  It’s supposed to serve as a guide on how to choose a DNA testing service the right way.

Just remember:

If you still don’t understand the rules about court admissible evidence or chain of custody, consult your attorney. Good luck, and may your results be legal in court!

If you have any other questions, we love answering them.  Drop us a line or send us an email!

Not sure what to say on the phone call?  Check out our infographic: How to Call a DNA Testing Company!