Frequently Asked Questions

Browse our frequent questions. Here you will find the answers you need to most of your questions. These are the questions and concerns our clients most often ask us about. If you don’t find what you need here, just contact us. Our customer support team are happy to assist you with all your queries.

What Is DNA?

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is found in all the cells of our body, it is our blueprint and DNA molecules are passed down through generations within a family. The molecular structure of DNA is likened to a twisted ladder made of two strands, known as a ‘helix’. The strands of DNA contain information in the form of a code, which in turn determines our individual traits and characteristics. There are four types of DNA building block and the order in which these occur is our genetic code.
Half of a person’s DNA is inherited from their mother, and half is inherited from the father. However, while fingerprints have no value for establishing family relationships, the minor variations in DNA sequence do have value, because they are inherited from preceding family members.

Is DNA fragile?

No. DNA is surprisingly robust. Nevertheless, the more care that is taken over collecting the DNA samples the easier testing becomes and the longer the sample is liable to be useable.

How does a Paternity Test work?

Paternity testing identifies the unique genetic profile of each individual being tested. The genetic profile of a child is inherited partly from the father and partly from the mother. By comparing the child’s genetic profile with that of the alleged father, a Paternity Test determines whether or not this person is the real biological father.

How does the DNA testing process work?

The cheek cell samples are taken to our laboratory where they are treated in order to release the DNA coding from the cells. The DNA is then introduced to an enzyme that duplicates the DNA, producing millions of copies ready for analysis.
The DNA profile is made up of STR (Short Tandem Repeat) markers. As a child inherits half of his or her DNA from each parent, every STR marker in the child’s profile should be present in either the mother’s or father’s DNA. Our laboratory will test at least 24 STR markers to determine paternity.
As part of our commitment to accuracy, all our DNA tests are run twice and the results double-checked.

What should I look for when choosing a DNA testing company?

There are several paternity testing companies offering what look like very cheap tests, however, NOT ALL PATERNITY TESTS ARE OF EQUAL QUALITY. To avoid getting an incorrect result from your DNA test which could have devastating consequences, always ensure that the testing company is fully accredited, preferably by international accreditation bodies such as the AABB and ISO17025. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 17025 is the world standard in the certification of competence of testing and calibration of medical diagnostic laboratories. ISO 17025 certification ensures a high level of competence and compliance for the certified laboratory, ensuring that testing is undertaken by professionals. The American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) also certifies laboratories, and runs an accreditation programme specifically for high competence levels in parentage testing.All International Biosciences’ DNA analysis and DNA testing is carried out at a laboratory accredited by the AABB and accredited in accordance with the recognised International Standard ISO/IEC 17025:2005 by A2LA, a signatory to the ILAC arrangement. Click here to view the full list of Signatories to the ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement which includes The National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA).

What is the difference between a Court Approved and a Peace of Mind DNA test?

There is no difference in the analysis carried out by our laboratory or the accuracy of the results. The only difference is that with the court approved DNA test, you will need to attend an appointment so that your identity can be verified and it can be confirmed that the samples have been taken from the person shown in the photographs that will accompany the samples. Each applicant will be asked to provide 2 passport-sized photographs and bring two forms of identification (passport or driving licence and utility bill or proof of address).
This is to satisfy the court that each sample has been taken from the correct person.
Please contact us if you require a court approved DNA test.

At what age can a child be tested?

DNA paternity testing can be performed at any age and a child can be safely tested at any age after birth. We also offer a prenatal paternity test using DNA samples taken during the early stages of pregnancy (10-21 weeks). Please contact us for more information.

Is the kit easy to use?

Yes. The DNA sample collection kit comes complete with step-by-step instructions for quick and easy cheek cell collection using the mouth swabs provided. Sample collection should take only a few minutes per person and is completely safe and painless.

How are the DNA samples taken?

DNA samples are taken by using the mouth swabs that we provide to gently rub the inside of the mouth to collect a sample of cheek cells. These swabs are then placed inside individual envelopes which are sealed and marked with the relevant applicant’s details. Collecting the DNA sample is completely painless and will only take minutes to complete. Click here for step-by-step instructions on How To Do A DNA Test

Will I need to see a doctor or other professional?

No. Home testing is very simple and conclusive. BUT in order for a test to be acceptable legally (i.e. in a court) there are a number of additional procedures that need to be followed. Self collection would not be acceptable for a court approved DNA test. Please contact us if you require a court approved DNA test.

How do I know that I’m collecting my samples correctly?

The kit is very easy to use and we provide simple, step-by-step instructions for collecting cheek cell samples using the mouth swabs provided. If you follow the instructions carefully, there is no need for you to be concerned with making mistakes. Our concerns are ensuring that you collect sufficient cells for testing; you collect a DNA sample from the appropriate person; and you label the samples correctly. Click here for step-by-step instructions on How To Do A DNA Test

How much does it cost and how do I pay?

The price depends on the test you are selecting; refer to our DNA Tests & Prices page. You can either supply credit card details with your sample or one of our Customer Services Advisors will contact you for these prior to despatch to our laboratories. You may also pay by cheque, bank draft or postal order, made payable to International Biosciences.

What do I do to get started?

To order your DNA sample collection kit either:
Call our team on 1-800-987-923
Complete our DNA testing kit request form

Is the DNA test confidential?

Absolutely. International Biosciences ensure complete discretion and client confidentiality. Results will only be released to the person specified. All client files are password protected. All packaging is discrete and patient information is never used for any purpose other than for the DNA test requested.

How can I keep the DNA testing discrete?

All our DNA sampling kits are sent out in the post in plain envelopes marked Private & Confidential with no branding on them, so it will look like a normal letter. When your results are complete you can choose how you wish to receive them: either by email, letter or telephone call. We ask that you supply a password with your samples to ensure confidentiality.

Why do you run every DNA test twice?

We take pride in the quality and integrity of our DNA testing and have a quality assurance programme in place to make sure that all our results are accurate. This quality assurance programme runs all DNA samples twice and double-checks the results to provide absolute confidence that the DNA test results you receive are correct.

From where can DNA be extracted?

It is widely accepted that cheek cells are the most accessible voluntary sample tissue. However, human DNA can be extracted from most body fluids or tissue (blood, semen, hair etc). Furthermore DNA can be extracted from any item that is contaminated by body fluids such as chewing gum, cigarette butts or sanitary towels. Please click here for a list of alternative DNA sources or contact us for more information.

How long does DNA last from when the samples were taken?

The DNA should last up to 3 months from the time you took the samples, provided you followed our instructions and they are kept dry and at room temperature. For humid climates, the swabs should be returned immediately.

How long is the DNA sample collection kit good for?

The shelf life of the DNA testing kit is 4 years. This means that even if you are unable to use the kit right away, the unopened kit can be used up to 4 years from the date that you first received it. Once the DNA sample is collected, the samples should last for up to 3 months at room temperature. Most clients return their DNA samples to us for testing as soon as they have completed collecting them. However, even if you are unable to return the samples right away, they are good for testing for up to 3 months after the collection. For humid climates, the swabs should be returned immediately.

What is a mouth swab, and is it as accurate as blood?

A mouth swab looks like a long cotton wool bud. It is used to collect cheek cells from the inside of your mouth. DNA is consistent throughout the body, so the DNA in cheek cells is identical to the DNA in blood cells. The mouth swab allows for non-invasive and painless collection of DNA.

Are the DNA test results conclusive?

YES. When the DNA from a child and alleged father is tested, the DNA test results report provided by our laboratory will show conclusively whether or not there is a paternal relationship. If there is a paternal relationship the accuracy would be in excess of 99.9%

Does the mother need to be tested to achieve an accurate result?

No. Motherless DNA testing is a very common procedure. Without a sample from the mother, DNA testing is done by comparing the DNA of the child to that of the alleged father.

Can a relationship between an alleged father and a child be established without a DNA sample from the father?

Yes. If only the child and a relative of the alleged father are tested the results are not conclusive but can be strongly indicative. If the mother’s DNA sample is also available, the DNA test results will be more conclusive.

What if the two alleged fathers are related?

If possible, it is best to test both alleged fathers, especially if they are related, so that one can be excluded. If only one alleged father is available then you must make us aware that two alleged fathers are related when you return your DNA samples so we can carry out additional analysis. Please contact us for more information.

What DNA testing options exist if the person in question is deceased, missing or unavailable?

Several options are available. If the person is deceased and an autopsy was performed, a viable DNA sample may be in storage if the coroner kept the samples. A viable DNA sample may exist if, prior to death, tissue was taken for analysis by the hospital or a laboratory. In the UK hospitals hold this sample for a considerable period of time and the executor to the estate has the ability to request a sample for further analysis.
If no DNA sample exists then other known family members such as aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings and grandparents can submit DNA samples for several types of analysis. Please contact us for more information.

Will the results of my DNA test be recognised legally?

If you want to use the results of the DNA test in a legal manner it is vital that the sample is collected by a health professional. The price quoted does not include any fee for collection of the DNA samples by said professional. It is important to ensure that if you want your DNA test to be legally binding you notify us of this from the outset.

How long will it take to receive my DNA test results?

The DNA test result will normally be available 4 working days from the time that the DNA samples are received at our office with Paternity Test and Maternity Test results available on the NEXT WORKING DAY. We provide a ‘Rush Processing’ service for clients who require their results more quickly, please contact us for more information.

As we offer a variety of DNA tests, the turnaround times for different tests will vary. We recommend checking individual test pages for more information or contacting our customer service team if the information is not available.

Will the DNA sample be safe?

Yes. The DNA sample collection kits we will supply you with are tamper proof and all results are stored securely.

What help is available after the DNA testing is complete?

Hopefully the DNA test results we supply will provide the answer you hoped for. Sadly the reason people apply for a DNA test is because there is some doubt in their mind which the test results often confirm. There are numerous professional and voluntary institutions which offer support and advice in such circumstances. Click here to visit our Help & Support page.

What can a Twin Zygosity Test be used for?

Twin Zygosity DNA Testing has a number of uses including:
Curiosity Testing: Parents of twins and twins themselves may wish to know whether they are identical or non-identical.
Medical Necessity: In medical situations requiring blood transfusions and organ transplantation, an identical twin can help save the second twin’s life. Knowing twin zygosity beforehand is therefore important for timely action if these circumstances arise.

What can a DNA Identification Profile be used for?

DNA identification profiling has a number of uses and benefits including:
To assist in determining familial relationships.
To safeguard the rightful heirs and ensure that they will inherit your estate through the exclusion of false claims on your inheritance.
To avoid expensive exhumations if your DNA profile is required in the future.
As a precaution for any possible future identification/verification requirements for those who work in high risk jobs e.g. in cases of kidnapping, accidental death etc.
To ensure the availability of permanently stored records.

What does the DNA Sample Collection Kit contain?

We provide 4 mouth swabs per applicant and labelled envelopes to place each DNA sample in after collection. Also included are step-by-step instructions on how to collect the DNA samples and a registration & consent form.

What is the consent form for?

Each person providing a sample for a DNA test must give their consent for the test to be carried out. Consent is required from each person being tested before a DNA sample can be taken. In the case of minors, individuals suffering from a mental disorder or those who are not in a position to give their own consent, a legal guardian or a person having parental responsibility for the individual must consent.
It is a serious offence, punishable by imprisonment, to impersonate another person for the purpose of providing a DNA sample or to submit the wrong child for that purpose.

How does the new law affect DNA testing?

On Friday 1st September 2006 the Government introduced a ban on testing DNA without permission. Under the Human Tissue Act it is a criminal offence to take a sample from someone to test their DNA without their consent, except for medical purposes and lawful investigative purposes, for example a criminal investigation.

How do I know if I have parental responsibility?

If the child was born from 1st December 2003 onwards then new changes in the law mean unmarried fathers get equal parental responsibility. All you have to do is for both parents to register the birth of your baby together. If your child was born before this date then you can only gain parental responsibility by being married to or marrying the child’s mother, signing an official agreement with the mother or obtaining a court order.

What about confidentiality of data?

All data will be treated with strict confidence and will not be passed on to third parties. International Biosciences complies with the Data Protection Act 1988. Please click here to view our Privacy Statement.

Why is information regarding ethnicity required?

The frequency of a given allele for each of the loci we test generally changes depending on the ethnicity of the parents. Genetic differences between people of Caucasian, African or Asian backgrounds means that we need to calculate the Combined Index slightly differently to take into account their different ethnicity and to provide the most accurate result.

Do I have to provide information on ethnicity?

It is entirely up to you whether you want to (or are able to) provide this information, however it will increase the accuracy of the paternity test slightly. If this data is not provided, we will simply use the lowest Index value for each loci, which will generally still produce a result with accuracy in excess of 99.9%

The people to be tested live in different cities. Can I order a DNA paternity test if the different parties to be tested do not live near each other?

Yes, a DNA test can be easily conducted if the different parties to be tested are in different cities or even in different countries. We give each DNA sample collection kit a unique case reference number. If the different parties live in different cities or countries, DNA sample collection kits with the same unique case reference number will be sent directly to each party. After collection, each individual can return their DNA samples to us. The DNA samples will be correctly matched at our laboratory for each case using the unique case reference number. A “split kit” for two different addresses can be ordered online or by phone. When ordering online, simply state that you require a “split kit” in the ‘Additional Comments’ box of the order form and enter the additional name and address.

Can I order a DNA kit if I live outside the UK?

Yes, we can send a DNA sample collection kit to any country worldwide. All our DNA kits are dispatched by first class or air mail. If you require delivery by courier or any other method, please contact us as there may be extra costs.

What risks are involved with a prenatal paternity test?

Applicants should note that both CVS and amniocentesis procedures carry a small risk to the unborn baby. Studies have indicated that the chances for foetal loss are increased by 0.5% for amniocentesis and 1% for chorionic villus sampling. We strongly recommend that you discuss these issues with your doctor.
By the14th week of pregnancy, the chance of having a miscarriage is approximately 2%. After a CVS procedure, the risk of miscarriage is increased by 1%, to 3%, for the remainder of the pregnancy. Some miscarriages are destined to happen regardless of having the procedure and very few are caused by CVS. The more experience the specialist has, the lower the miscarriage rate will be. International Biosciences only refer applicants to carefully selected clinics and the audited pregnancy loss due to CVS is 1 in 100 procedures performed.
By the14th week of pregnancy, the chance of having a miscarriage is approximately 2%. After an Amniocentesis procedure, the risk of miscarriage is increased by 0.5%, to 2.5%, for the remainder of the pregnancy. Therefore if you do miscarry after an Amniocentesis procedure it is more likely that you were due to miscarry than the procedure actually causing the miscarriage. The more experience the specialist has, the lower the miscarriage rate will be. International Biosciences only refer applicants to carefully selected clinics.
If your blood group is Rhesus negative you will need to receive Anti D medication after the procedure. Anti D prevents the baby’s blood cells being destroyed by your immune system in future pregnancies. Please contact us for a copy of the Anti D information sheet if you are Rhesus negative.

Can a DNA Paternity Test be used to identify potential hereditary diseases?

No. The DNA markers for paternity tests are in different locations than those for diseases. Consequently we cannot tell if a person has a disease or is a carrier of hereditary diseases using the information from this DNA test.

What if I have more questions about DNA testing?

You may contact us by email: or call one of our Customer Service Advisors on 01273 227544.

How much does a paternity test cost?

The cost of a paternity test is of $295. There are NO HIDDEN FEES.

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