How to Choose A DNA Testing Laboratory

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Use a properly accredited laboratory with both AABB and ISO17025 certificates.
  • Avoid a company that appears to be acting as a broker or middleman.
  • Use a company that DNA tests 15 or more STR chromosome locations.
  • Check if extra STR tests are conducted without extra charge if results are inconclusive.
  • Make sure your paternity results will be delivered in the timescale you need.
  • For legal tests, ensure there are convenient DNA sampling arrangements and the test satisfies your state legal requirements.
  • If you are a resident of New York State, you must use a lab that is accredited by NYSDOH and DNA tests must be ordered through an authorized judge, attorney or physician regardless of whether the test is for legal or “peace-of-mind” purposes.
  • See our testing company comparison table detailing prices, test power and accreditation status of most of the prominent online services with website links.

Read on for more detailed guidance

There are many DNA testing companies around offering private paternity testing services. If you search on-line you will be able to see the details of many labs and find information about what they offer and the accreditation standards they adhere to. If you want more detail you can usually phone, write and some have online chat in real time. Here are some suggestions of what to look for to help you choose:

  1. Use an accredited laboratory. Many laboratories go to the expense and effort to obtain an accreditation certificate that demonstrates their processes and quality procedures meet good standards. The international standard for DNA relationship testing laboratories is known as ISO 17025 and assessments are made by independent accreditation bodies such as A2LA, SCC, UKAS, NATA, SANAS, ACLASS, ASCLD/LAB. In the United States there is a further accreditation standard AABB_logoissued by AABB (formerly the American Association of Blood Banks). AABB accredited laboratories must be used if tests are needed for US legal purposes. Also if you are resident in New York State you should use a laboratory that is approved by Department of Health regardless of whether the test is for piece of mind or legal purposes. Look amongst your chosen company’s accreditations, they will state clearly if they have been accredited by the NYSDOH.
  2. Deal directly with the company that conducts the testing and not an intermediary acting as a middleman. Its not that intermediaries are necessarily bad, its just that if there is an issue or something goes wrong it is often better to deal directly with those who conducted the test.Accredited Testing Companies
  3. Choose a laboratory that routinely delivers results in excess of 99.99% probability of paternity (CPI 10,000) for mother, father, child trios. There are plenty to choose from. These companies will generally test 15 or more different STR locations across the chromosomes. The more chromosomal locations tested the better.
  4. Check what the procedure is if weak or inconclusive results are obtained because of allele mutation. They should be able to conduct more confirmatory tests with no additional charge.
  5. Some laboratories test every sample twice as a matter of routine. Repeat testing (conducted from the start of the process on the original sample) is the best way to double-check that there have been no sample switch errors during the testing procedure. Sample mix-ups between different customers will almost always result in a false exclusion of the supposed father, so you may wish to choose a laboratory that does this if you want extra confidence in the reliability of the result.
  6. Value and quality of service. Compare charges for both the kit and the laboratory procedure. Check the speed of service and how your results will be communicated. Testing usually takes between 1 and 5 days once all the samples have been received.
  7. For legal tests make sure you choose a tester that meets the required legal standards applicable where you live and who can provide convenient sampling options. (At the time of writing this, if your lab achieves a probability of paternity of 99.9% or more you will meet or exceed the legal requirement in your state, but check because things do change!)
  8. Currently, if you are resident in New York State, tests must be ordered through an authorized judge, attorney or physician and are not allowed direct to private individuals regardless of whether the test is for legal or “peace-of-mind” purposes.
  9. If you are unsure about any paternity testing requirements in your state or about any aspect the service provided by a particular company, check with the company. They should be able to give you accurate up-to-date information without any fuss. If they are not clear about it – go somewhere else, there are plenty of good labs to choose from. 
  10. Check out our testing company comparison table detailing prices, test power and accreditation status of most of the prominent online services with links to their websites.