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Can a little spit really tell you that you’ve got some Albert Einstein in your DNA or that your ancestors migrated from the Middle East 2,000 years ago?
Surely, you’ve heard about the craze over at-home DNA tests. Interested in digging deeper into your family heritage? Want to know what test to take? DNA testing is easier and more affordable than you might think and can lead to amazing revelations about who you are.
We often get asked which test is best for revealing what type of information. Every DNA testing company has its own unique strengths and thus the results are better for certain types of data.
DNA Ancestry Test
When you hear about your friend doing a DNA test at home, there is a good chance that they are talking about an ancestry test. DNA testing for ancestry is growing in popularity as more and more people want to know about their family history. A DNA ethnicity test can help you discover your ethnic origins from around the world. DNA testing for genealogy can help you identify your ancestors and living relatives (from a parent to distant cousins). An ancestral DNA test may also inspire you to dig in deeper to your family tree with genealogical research.
DNA Paternity Test
Historically one of the more common types of DNA tests, a paternity test determines the biological link between a father and child. There’s even a non-invasive prenatal paternity test available now. Read our Paternity Test Comparison for the scoop.
DNA Health Testing
At-home DNA testing for most medical and health-related purposes is still in its infancy, but scientists are making advances every day. Always consult your physician before doing one of these types of tests and ask lots of questions.
Genetic Testing For Cancer Risk
Some people have a higher risk of developing specific types of cancers that tend to run in the family. In these cases, a physician may test your DNA to look for gene mutations that could indicate a higher risk. One of the better-known examples is testing for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (breast cancer genes) in women whose mother and sister have had breast cancer.
Genetic Testing For Carrier Status
Want to start a family, but you’re worried you may pass on an unwanted risk to your child? Some DNA tests can tell you if you’re a carrier for certain inherited conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia or hereditary hearing loss. A positive match doesn’t mean your child will inherit the condition; it just lets you know whether you carry the gene.
Not all DNA tests are the same. A carrier status DNA test, for example, focuses on the specific markers known to be associated with certain inherited conditions. On the other hand, DNA genealogy tests focus on specific markers related to our ancestry.
Check out our article on DNA Testing For Health Reasons to see which at-home tests are legit.
The cost varies by the company and the type of kit you choose but most range from $39 to $300+ and some offer free shipping. (Prenatal paternity tests can be $1,000 or more). After the one-time fee to have your DNA analyzed, you have access to your DNA records forever without paying a monthly fee.
The prices of the tests vary greatly because of the different features each offers. For example, some test for more than one type of DNA, which means the test may be more accurate or detailed than others.
The cost of DNA tests is the same regardless of where you live. So that means that someone in the United States pays the same as someone in Nigeria for the same test.
Often our top-ranked ancestry DNA companies (see below) will offer special discounts and promotions, and we do our best to keep this page updated when those sales happen. You can find these coupons in the review sections below for each specific company.
|1st: Family Tree DNA||2nd: Ancestry DNA||3rd: 23andMe||African Ancestry||GPS Origins by HomeDNA||Living DNA||MyHeritage DNA||National Geographic Geno 2.0||Vitagene|
|Visit Website||Visit Website||Visit Website||Visit Website||Visit Website||Visit Website||Visit Website||View on Amazon||Visit Website||Visit Website|
|Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review|
|Test Type||Cheek swab||Saliva sample||Saliva sample||Cheek swab||Cheek swab||Cheek swab||Cheek swab||Saliva sample||Cheek swab|
|Best For||Advanced Genealogical Research & Identifying Relatives||Identifying Relatives & Ethnicity||Disease Risk Screening & General Ancestry||Ancient African Ancestry||Early Migratory Patterns||British Heritage||Adding DNA to Your Online Family Tree||Ancient Ancestry||Nutritional Guidance|
|Database Size||989,000+||10 Million||3 Million||30,000+||n/a||n/a||1 Million||895,000+||n/a|
|Ethnic Geographical Regions||24||150+||150+||n/a||n/a||80||42||n/a||25|
|Results In||4-10 Weeks||6-8 Weeks||6-8 Weeks||6+ Weeks||6 Weeks||10-12 Weeks||3-4 Weeks||8-10 Weeks||4-6 Weeks|
Step 1: Order Your Kit
Order your kit online from anywhere in the world (see below for our top picks). It takes about a week to receive the kit. The package should arrive sealed so you are certain it has not been tampered with.
Step 2: Set Up Your Online Profile
You’ll need to activate your kit online using a unique code provided to you. This connects your name and contact details to your sample so you can track progress as it’s tested and later view results. You’ll most likely sign a consent form and agree to the company’s legal terms and conditions before getting started.
Step 3: Provide A DNA Sample
Now for the fun part — providing your DNA sample! Most tests offer cheek swab tests. AncestryDNA, 23andMe and NatGeo Geno 2.0 tests require you to spit in a vial.
Either way, they recommend not eating, drinking, smoking, chewing gum or teeth brushing at least one hour before to ensure a good sample. Also wash your hands before opening the test tubes to ensure a clean sample.
Step 4: Seal & Ship Your Sample
Once your samples are complete and ready to go, seal the samples in the specimen bag, place them in the provided mailing envelope, and drop the it in your mailbox for delivery. Don’t forget to make sure your unique ID is on each sample so the labs have a way to track it back to your profile.
Step 5: Wait For Analysis
In an age where we can get most things instantly, you might be anxious to get results right away. But, how long does a DNA test take to come back? Given the complexity of the process of analyzing your DNA and comparing your results to other samples, expect to wait anywhere from 4-10 weeks depending on the company.
Step 6: View & Share Your Results
To access your results, sign in to the online portal using the login you created when you activated your kit (results will not be mailed to you for privacy reasons). Once logged in, you can view and analyze your DNA in more detail using the provided percentages, maps and more depending on which kit you chose.
We chose our best DNA test for 2018 based on a number of factors, including: the types of tests they offer, DNA database size, the extent of ancestry information you can find from each test, cost, genealogy research tools and more. If you need to brush up on DNA and ancestry-related terms, jump to our DNA terminology section.
Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) is the best DNA ancestry test if you’re committed to serious genealogy research or if you want to identify living relatives. This company is the only service that offers all three types of tests separately: autosomal, Y-DNA and mtDNA testing. Their Y-DNA and mtDNA tests are much more in-depth than other companies’ maternal and paternal-line analysis. (Learn more about these different tests.)
Also, FTDNA is one of the only services that offers a chromosomal browser, which allows you to compare your matching DNA segments (blocks) with each genetic match. You get the email addresses of your matches and can join targeted genealogical projects within their network. This is one of a few services that gives you the ability to transfer your data from other services to help you further your research.
Best For Advanced Genealogical Research
FTDNA gives you a list of all your genetic matches who share common ancestors from your maternal and paternal lines from the past 5 or so generations. You can even view, sort and compare individual DNA matches by parental lines and contact matches via email (if they’ve permitted access). Their separate mtDNA and Y-DNA tests give you unparalleled analysis into your DNA, and their online resources are phenomenal.
FTDNA offers several bundled packages in addition to the pricing below.
- $79 Family Finder Autosomal DNA Kit (cheek swab), Results in 4-6 weeks
- $89 mtDNA Plus DNA Kit, Results in 4-6 weeks
- $199 mtDNA Full Sequence Kit, Results in 6-8 weeks
- $169 Y37 Markers, Results in 8-10 weeks
- $268 Y67 Markers, Results in 8-10 weeks
- $359 Y111 Markers, Results in 8-10 weeks
- $12.95 shipping
- View all options
Family Tree DNA often has time-sensitive coupons!
AncestryDNA, part of the wildly popular genealogical company Ancestry.com, comes in an extremely close second to FTDNA as the best DNA ancestry test. This company offers fairly affordable pricing, an extremely active online community, a huge DNA ancestry database and access to millions of family trees and billions of historical records via the Ancestry website. Their autosomal test analyzes more than 700,000 genetic markers to find your genetic matches and gives you an unparalleled breakdown of your ethnicity.
With all these features under its belt, why is AncestryDNA not our #1 pick? It’s certainly a close call, but it comes down to the scope of the DNA testing itself. In our book, FamilyTreeDNA has the edge because it offers more in-depth analysis than any other company. AncestryDNA suspended its Y-DNA and mtDNA testing several years ago, so you can’t drill down as deep into your genetic profile and ancestry as you can with FTDNA.
AncestryDNA also gives you results on migration patterns from several areas around the world to post-colonial North America. This can help you better pinpoint where your recent ancestors lived in the U.S. and migrated from around the world.
Best For Identifying Genetic Matches & Ethnicity
Far more people have tested with AncestryDNA than any other service — a whopping 10 million people. This means you’ll be more likely to find living relatives and shared ancestors. You can also use the website’s extensive historical ancestry records to try to trace your ancestors on you mother’s and father’s sides.
- $99 Autosomal DNA testing kit (saliva sample)
- $9.95 shipping
- Results available in 6-8 weeks
AncestryDNA often has time-sensitive coupons!
23andMe comes in third as our best ancestry DNA testing company for the unique services they provide. 23andMe is your best bet if you want to trace your lineage and get disease-risk and carrier-status DNA results. They offer two testing kit types — an autosomal Ancestry test for $99 or a Health + Ancestry test for $199.
On the ancestry side, you’ll get reports on your ethnic composition, haplogroups and Neanderthal ancestry. 23andMe also provides you an anonymous report of where your current genetic matches live in the world, and you can opt-in to their DNA Relatives tool to find, connect and message those who share DNA with you. If you want to use your DNA results to help you trace your family tree, however, 23andMe’s research tools and genealogy community aren’t up to par with FamilyTreeDNA or Ancestry.com.
23andMe is the only direct-to-consumer genetic test that has FDA approval for several genetic health risks, including late-onset Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Hereditary Thrombophilia, and most recently three genetic variants found on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes known to be associated with higher risk for breast, ovarian and prostate cancer.
Other health results include 40 FDA-approved carrier status reports (whether you carry genes for certain health conditions), five wellness reports (lactose intolerance, for example), and more than a dozen trait reports (male bald spot, unibrow, etc.).
Best For General Ancestry and Disease Risk Screening
If you want to learn where your ancestors lived around the world and, at the same time, gain insights into your health and risk for certain diseases, 23andMe’s Ancestry + Health test is the way to go.
- $99 Ancestry autosomal DNA test (saliva sample)
- $199 Ancestry + Health DNA testing kit
- $9.95 shipping
- Results available in 6-8 weeks
- View all options
23andMe occasionally has time-sensitive coupons!
The Rest Of The Pack
These may not be in the top 3 overall for best DNA test for ancestry, but they are winners in their respective categories.
African Ancestry was launched in 2003, and since that time, African Ancestry has partnered with historians, archaeologists, anthropologists and other geneticists to build the largest collection of African lineages in the world, including over 30,000 indigenous African DNA profiles.
This company offers separate mtDNA and Y-DNA tests but no autosomal test. African Ancestry says they can trace your roots back to a specific present-day African country, but that’s a somewhat problematic claim.
Given the science they use and the limits of DNA ancestry testing in general, what they can do is determine a likely estimate of broad genetic matches “based on the frequency of identical and closely related haplotypes,” according to their website. They also provide broad results from other continents.
Best DNA Test To Discover Ancient African Roots
Do you want to know which specific area, or perhaps even tribe, in Africa your ancestors hailed from? If you know (or highly suspect) that you are of African descent, African Ancestry traces your African roots from 500 – 2,000 years ago.
- $299 MatriClan™ Test Kit
- $299 PatriClan™ Test Kit
- $680 Family Celebration Package, includes one mtDNA kit, one Y-DNA kit, t-shirts, certificates
- Free shipping
- Results available in 6+ weeks
- View all options
GPS Origins test by HomeDNA uses a unique ancestral tracking technique that breaks down your gene pool and family migration patterns. Their in-house and highly-accredited laboratory, DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC), tests 800,000 autosomal genetic markers and analyze 862 reference populations and 36 gene pools to tell you where your ancestors moved over hundreds of years starting roughly 1,000 years ago.
Although their GPS Origins test kit is expensive, HomeDNA allows you to upload your results from 23andMe, Ancestry.com, the Family Tree DNA Family Finder or National Geographic Geno 2.0 for HomeDNA’s unique analysis for a reasonable $39 fee. HomeDNA also provides special editions of their GPS Origins test.
- The African Edition autosomal test analyzes 11 African–specific gene pools and ancestry markers from more than 100 African populations. You receive your African ethnicity in percentages and can see your ancestors’ migration routes going as far back as 2,000 years, along with anthropological stories explaining the movement of your DNA over time.
- The Asian Edition test analyzes 17 Asian gene pools and goes back 2,000 years, with date stamps and geographic coordinates.
Best For Early Migratory Patterns
Want to know where your early ancestors originated and migrated to over hundreds of years? The GPS Origins tests give you basic migratory patterns within certain areas of the globe starting as early as 2,000 years ago based on your genetically-matched haplogroups.
- $199 for GPS Origins® test
- $199 for GPS Origins® African edition
- $199 for GPS Origins® Asian edition
- $39 to upload your results from the Family Tree DNA Family Finder, 23andMe, Ancestry.com or National Geographic Geno 2.0
- Free shipping
- Results available in 4-6 weeks
- View all HomeDNA test kit options
England-based Living DNA launched in early 2015. At the time, they claimed to be the “first truly global DNA test” because they break down ancestral origins across 80 worldwide regions. AncestryDNA and 23andMe, however, are putting that claim to rest as both sites are in the process of improving regional ethnicity analysis several notches. Living DNA does still have the edge on British ancestry — they break down your roots across 21 regions in the British Isles.
If you already have a good idea that your roots are from the United Kingdom, Living DNA could be a great test for you to delve deeper into the region. Living DNA has partnered with several leading genomics, analytical, testing and research organizations, which lends them a lot of credibility in our book. We’re keeping our eye on this relative newcomer to see how their reputation develops.
Best For British Heritage
If you have Brit in your blood, Living DNA is your best choice for DNA testing. Based in the UK, their database is specifically geared toward the European and UK markets, making their results much more comprehensive in those regions.
- $99 DNA testing kit (cheek swab)
- Free shipping
- Results in 10-12 weeks
Living DNA occasionally has time-sensitive coupons.
MyHeritage is one of the most popular genealogy research and family tree websites in the world. In September 2016, they launched an autosomal DNA ancestry test at a competitive price. This DNA heritage test is similar to AncestryDNA, with fewer ethnic regions identified.
Although the test is relatively new compared to other services, MyHeritage uses FTDNA’s highly-accredited testing lab. An advantage of MyHeritage DNA? You can import DNA testing results from competing companies to compare with their database for free. Other services charge you a fee for this feature.
The downside? While they have a massive database of family trees and active users, their database of DNA results is still in its early stages. But based on the popularity of this website, we anticipate their DNA database will grow quickly.
Best For Enhancing Your Online Family Tree
With more than 2.8 billion family trees and 95 billion users worldwide, MyHeritage’s Family Tree Builder and related services are among the best online. How do you benefit from connecting your DNA to your family tree? DNA results can prove or disprove documented family tree connections. Family trees are also vital for understanding the relationship path to DNA matches.
- $75.00 Autosomal DNA testing kit (cheek swab)
- Free shipping
- Results in 3-4 weeks
The Geno 2.0 Next Generation DNA testing kit is best for people who want to trace their roots all the way back to ancient origins (even to Neanderthals). The test is part of the National Geographic Genographic Project, a scientific effort to analyze historic patterns in human DNA across the globe.
How does it work? You purchase and submit your saliva sample test, their lab runs its DNA testing, which identifies thousands of mtDNA markers for direct maternal lineage, examines Y-DNA markers for direct paternal ancestry and analyzes more than 750,000 other ancestry-informative markers to reveal your ancestry’s regional affiliations.
The Geno 2.0 Next Gen test is expensive, and their database is relatively small which limits your research abilities. But the great thing about this test is that FTDNA allows you to upload your Geno 2.0 results into their database for free, so you can find your relatives and get additional insight on your ancestral origins. And you get the satisfaction of knowing that you’re contributing to a global historical genomic project.
The Geno 2.0 project was started in part by the folks at Family Tree DNA, our top pick for best ancestry DNA kit, and the samples are processed by the Genomics Research Center which is operated by Gene by Gene, Ltd., Family Tree DNA’s parent company.
Best DNA Test For Ancient Ancestry
The Geno 2.0 test allows you to trace your roots back hundreds or thousands of years and gives you their ancient migration patterns across countries and continents around the globe.
- $199.95 DNA testing kit (cheek swab)
- Free shipping
- Results available in 8-10 weeks
Mothers Day 2018 Sale: Buy 2 or more GENO 2.0 Kits and get them for $69.95 each - regularly priced at $199.95 each!
Vitagene Health +Ancestry by HomeDNA is currently the only DNA test kit on the market that analyzes your ethnic ancestry and nutrition genetics from one single cheek swab. For ancestry results alone, there isn’t much to get excited about with this Vitagene test. The simple autosomal DNA test only gives you ethnicity results from 25 regions around the world with percentage breakdowns — you can get these results and more from other ancestry tests.
What makes Vitagene Health+Ancestry worth consideration, however, is their health-related analysis. The test looks at specific genes related to vitamin deficiencies and common sensitivities, like gluten or lactose intolerance, as well as weight regain after dieting, obesity risk, emotional eating, sodium and fat intake, alcohol metabolism, triglyceride and cholesterol levels and more.
There’s also an online questionnaire, where you provide secure and confidential information about your medical history and lifestyle. They use this information, along with your DNA, to develop a personalized plan for exercise, diet and supplement recommendations.
Best For Nutritional Guidance
Vitagene Health+Ancestry test is a great beginner’s kit to get your feet wet with DNA testing. It’s an affordable way to start answering basic questions about where your ancestors came from and gain some insights into what diet you should be eating based on genetics. You’re not going to get any major genealogical findings or disease risk results, but if you want basics, it’s a reliable option.
- Health Report + Ancestry: $79
- Premium Report: $99
- Vitality Bundle + Free DNA Test: $169
- View all options
- Free shipping
- Results in 4-6 weeks
Before we delve into the types of DNA tests, we’re going to give you a quick breakdown of the terms you’ll run into so you can understand what we’re talking about!
What Is DNA?
DNA stands for “deoxyribonucleic acid,” and everyone’s DNA is unique to the individual. More than 99 percent of your DNA is the same as everyone else’s in the world. But there are small groups of sections across each person’s genome that differ (these variations make you the unique person you are).
What’s The Difference Between mtDNA and Y-DNA?
We go in-depth on these in the next section on types of DNA tests.
What Is A DNA Test?
DNA analysis looks at small sections of DNA, called “markers,” to create your DNA profile — a unique genetic fingerprint. Not every DNA test, however, is the same, and not every test’s design finds the same information from your DNA.
What Are Genetic Markers?
A genetic marker is a DNA sequence with a known location on a chromosome. Scientists use genetic markers to identify cells, individuals, populations, etc.
What Does Autosomal Mean?
Autosomal refers to a chromosome that is not a sex chromosome. People have 22 pairs of autosomes in each cell, as well as 2 sex chromosomes (X & Y in a male and X & X in a female). More in our next section on autosomal DNA testing.
What Is Shared DNA?
Two people who share identical segments of DNA share a recent common ancestor. The relationship between relatives (siblings, cousins, etc.) depends on the length and number of these identical segments.
What Is Deep Ancestry?
Deep ancestry is based on either mitochondrial DNA (maternal, or coming from your mother’s side) or Y-chromosome DNA (paternal, or coming from your father’s side), and it shows a single line of descent. It’s often referred to as a direct maternal line or direct paternal line, going back hundreds to thousands of years.
What Does Haplogroup Mean?
A haplogroup is a genetic population (group of people) who share a common ancestor on the direct paternal or maternal line.
What Is Y-Haplogroup, E3a, Q3, Etc.?
Each haplogroup is assigned its own group “name,” which consists of a letter of the alphabet followed by more specific refinements indicated by additional number and letter combinations. Some haplogroups indicate clear ethnic groups. For example, the Y-haplogroup E3a is the most common among African Americans, and Y-haplogroup Q3 solely includes Native American populations.
Now that you have a better understanding of the scientific part, let’s define the various types of tests, what to look for and who can take each one. It’s important to do your research about the type of test to make sure you’re testing your DNA for the specific information you’re looking for.
Autosomal DNA tests look at chromosomes 1-22 that you’ve inherited from both your parents.
Don’t know much about your grandparents or other relatives? Autosomal DNA testing can determine how closely related you are to other individuals. It can also give you an ethnicity estimate, telling you where your ancestors lived around the world.
- Who Can Take The Test: Males and females.
- What it Tests For: Autosomal DNA testing matches you with other individuals based on a certain amount of shared DNA.
- What it Can Reveal: You can expect to find matches as far out as 5th cousins and in some cases even further. Tests analyze shared DNA and give you your matches as well as how much DNA you have in common. Autosomal tests also identify your ethnic origins from around the world.
- How Far Back Are Results: Autosomal DNA tests trace back anywhere from five to ten generations on both your mother and father’s sides of the family.
What Are Ethnicity Estimates?
Autosomal DNA tests match your DNA with population samples and studies from across the globe. When you get your DNA test results back, you’ll get a report that gives you a mixture of percentages (ethnicity estimates). These are your unique percentages of where your ancestors lived in defined geographical regions, i.e. 82% British Isles, 10% Eastern European, 2% Native American and so on.
NOTE: Each company’s ethnicity report differs slightly by their defined global regions, how they present their data to you, and the number of population studies they use in their analysis. Your percentages can also differ slightly because of each lab’s unique testing methods. Some autosomal tests also look at parts of your DNA going back even further.
A mitochondrial (mtDNA) test traces your mother-line ancestry using the DNA in your mitochondria. mtDNA is passed down unchanged by every mother to all her children, both male and female.
- Who Can Take The Test: Males and females.
- What it Tests For: mtDNA tests along the direct maternal line, examining genetic markers on your mtDNA, which is passed down from mother to child each generation.
- What it Can Reveal: Your direct maternal deep ancestry and which haplogroup you belong to.
- How Far Back Are Results: All humans descended from Mitochondrial Eve, who lived an estimated 200,000 years ago in Africa. Her descendants are organized into different branches called haplogroups.
The Y-chromosome DNA (Y-DNA) test traces direct male-line ancestry — grandfather to father to son and so on. The Y-chromosome passes down each generation virtually unchanged. Since females don’t carry the Y-chromosome, they can’t take this test. Females, however, can learn something from this test by having a brother, father, paternal grandfather, paternal uncle or a male cousin (your father’s brother’s son) take a test for you.
- Who Can Take The Test: Males only (because women don’t have a Y-chromosome).
- What It Tests For: The Y-DNA test traces direct male-line ancestry. Each male’s Y-DNA test results are compared to other males’ results to find out their most recent common ancestor (MRCA) in their direct patrilineal lines.
- What It Can Reveal: This test can tell you which Y-haplogroup you belong to if you’re male. Your Y-DNA haplogroup reflects the ancient ancestry of your paternal line.
- How Far Back Are Results: Like mtDNA tests, Y-DNA tests can go back hundreds of thousands of years.
Still a bit confused? This short video breaks down the types of DNA tests in a nutshell for you.
GEDmatch.com is a free website, where you can upload raw autosomal DNA results and your match lists from AncestryDNA, 23andMe, Family Tree DNA, and other services. In GEDmatch you can compare your DNA results with the results of all other GEDmatch users who’ve made their results public, regardless of what company they used to obtain autosomal DNA results. GEDmatch can help you:
- Identify cousins and share research efforts for matching relatives.
- Identify what portions of your DNA came from each parent if you and one (or both) of your parents have their DNA tested.
- Potentially get more detailed ethnicity breakdowns. GEDmatch has six different options for displaying more detailed ethnicity, with many breakdowns under each option.
How Does GEDmatch Protect Your Privacy?
GEDmatch requires you to provide your email address and the exact name you used with your testing company. While we don’t recommend that you make your name or any of your information public, not sharing will limit much of what you can do with the website.
To share this DNA heritage test infographic on your site, simply copy and paste the code below:
Here are some additional questions we get asked regularly.
What About DNA Testing Privacy?
In 2008, the U.S. passed the Genetic Information and Non-Discrimination Act to protect citizens from having their genetic information used against them for health insurance or employment purposes.
Do My Parents or Siblings Need To Take A DNA Test For My Results To Be Accurate?
It depends on what type of information you’re looking for. It’s not necessary if you just want general ethnicity results. An autosomal DNA test will tell you what’s been passed down through your mother and/or father’s blood line, so save yourself the money!
But keep in mind, each person inherits different percentages of each parent’s DNA, and every person is different (even twins!). So if you want the most complete results, everyone in the family should test.
Can DNA Tests Tell Me What Countries My Ancestors Lived In?
In most cases no. Most ethnicity breakdowns involve broader regions, rather than specific countries.
Which DNA Test Offers The Best Bang For The Buck?
Family Tree DNA has the lowest autosomal test price tag.
Can I Transfer DNA Test Results From One Company To Another?
- AncestryDNA and 23andMe: You can’t upload other companies’ DNA test results
- Family Tree DNA: Does allow you to upload results from AncestryDNA, 23andMe and Geno 2.0 to match your results to their DNA database.
- HomeDNA’s GPS Origins: You can upload your autosomal DNA test results from the FTDNA, 23andMe, AncestryDNA or Geno 2.0
- African Ancestry: You can upload your mtDNA and Y-DNA test results from FTDNA if you have African ancestry
- My Heritage: Accepts other results, but their database isn’t as sophisticated or comprehensive.
- There are also a few free sites where you can upload your raw data results to help you match your DNA to others. The most popular is GEDmatch.com.
Do DNA Test Companies Share My Results With Researchers Or Third Parties?
The best testing sites don’t share your DNA results with third parties. But as with most things in life, we urge you to read their policies carefully before proceeding.
How Accurate Is Ancestry DNA Testing?
DNA testing for forensic purposes, paternity and ancestry are 99.9% accurate. This DNA accuracy level for ancestry pertains to matching relatives, not for ethnicity results.
How Accurate Are DNA Ethnicity Tests?
DNA ethnicity results are the least reliable part of DNA tests, but the science behind this testing is improving. AncestryDNA and 23andMe have recently dramatically expanded the number of global regions they identify in your ethnic mix, but drilling down to specific countries is complicated and problematic. Why? There are two major reasons:
- Each company that offers ethnicity tests uses groups of reference populations to compare your results and place you in an ethnic group. Results, however, can vary widely based on which and how many of these reference populations a certain company uses.
- Over the course of hundreds and thousands of years, there has been a great deal of intermixing of populations, particularly in Europe. Let’s use warfare as a good example. Wars cause invasions, which in turn change country borders and cause the mixing of disparate populations. Refugees migrated to different parts of their continent, further mixing people of different ethnic regions.
Because of these factors, you can see why your ethnicity results are just estimates. The better testing companies, however, give you confidence levels for each of your ethnic percentage results so you get a better idea of how “accurate” your results are.
How Accurate Is DNA Testing for Health Reasons?
The lines are a bit more blurry when it comes to DNA testing for disease risk (i.e. health).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal organizations want the public to be aware that many companies are prematurely marketing genetic tests for disease risk with limited scientific backing. Many of these tests may not provide valid or useful results. Why? Researchers have yet to identify a large part of the genetic makeup with most diseases.
23andMe, however, is one company that has received FDA approval for a few of its health-related DNA tests. You can discover your genetic disease risk for certain cancers, Parkinson’s Disease, Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, Celiac Disease and other hereditary conditions. Learn more in our article about 23andMe and other DNA tests for health reasons.
Learn More About Our Human History And How You Fit In
Whether you’re searching for living relatives or want to know where your ancestors originated, a DNA ancestry test is a fun way to find out more about what made you who you are. If you’re not already researching genealogy online, you may want to check out our Best Online Genealogy Software comparison article for our recommendations.
Check out our At-Home Paternity Test Review to learn more about legal paternity tests, prenatal paternity tests, a host of relationship tests (sibling, grandparent, maternity, etc.), and more. You’ll find features, pricing, and pros and cons.
What do you hope to discover via DNA testing?