The Genealogist DNA Testing: FAQ


Who provides the tests?
Testing is provided by Family Tree DNA based in Houston Texas, USA, a genetic genealogy company which has pioneered the use of DNA testing for genealogical research and now has one of the largest databases of genetic results to match with.
Other technical queries:
There is a more indepth FAQ on the FamilyTreeDNA site: here which may answer your question.
If you still have further questions you can contact FamilyTreeDNA directly.


How does DNA testing help with genealogy?
Through generations, specific parts of DNA are passed down with little change from parent to child. At its most basic, DNA tests compare the markers between different people who have already been tested to find those who are related to you.
From these matching people, you can make contact or use the information they have provided about their family research. The information can then be used to make breakthroughs in your own research, connect with lost relations or confirm suspected genealogical connections.
For paternal line testing, it is also likely that the Surname will have been passed down along with the DNA markers. This has allowed 'Surname Projects' to be started based on DNA matches confirming your common surname ancestry.
A DNA test can also show you the ancestral make-up of your DNA and, from that, which countries feature these markers. This will not match you to individual people but can help find new avenues of research by showing areas of origin which you were not aware of or to confirm ones you suspected.
How do I choose a test?
First you need to decide which line, maternal or paternal, of research you are interested in carrying out and take into account your sex. Use the table below to pick which types of test are relevant to your research. (If you are a female, remember you can ask a brother, father or paternal uncle to take a male only test for you).
Male Female
Mother Line (Maternal) mtDNA
Family Finder
Family Finder
Father Line (Paternal) Y-DNA
Family Finder
Family Finder
If you are a Female wanting to test the Paternal Line (and have no available male relations to use instead) the choice is simple, the Family Finder test is the option for you!
For the other types, the next step is to decide on how many generations of results want to narrow down to. In this case a smaller number is definitely more useful.
Using Y-DNA as the example, Y-DNA12 will match within 29 generations while Y-DNA67 can narrow the results down to 6 generations. Having results of matches to within 29 generations gives a very large amount of people who can possibly match, however, it is likely that few of these will be of direct genealogical interest to you. Within 6 generations, you may be able to find the shared relation within the census or other genealogical sources, making it a lot easier to focus on those matches which are useful to you.
Lowest Price:
If price is the most important selector, the lower Y-DNA or mtDNA packages are a great starting point into the world of genealogy DNA testing. It is worth carefully considering how many generations you want as a small price increase can substantially increase the accuracy of the results found.
Best Value:
We recommend you start by looking at the Family Finder product. This is the newest form of test and, with only one testing level and a great accuracy of within 5 generations, makes a great value choice.
Maximum Matches:
For you to match with another person in the database, they will need to have been tested with the same technique as you. To be able to match against the maximum number of currently tested people you will need to have your DNA tested with multiple methods. For this we offer a number of combination packages.
Once you have been tested, the database of matches is constantly growing as new people are added. If one of these matches in the future you will be informed through your account, giving you the possibility of making further discoveries when that long lost relation gets themselves tested.
What does each test provide?
Please view our guide to what is included with each type of test here.
Why are some tests not available for females?
Y-DNA tests rely on a component in the DNA which is only passed from father to son. If you wish to explore this line of testing as a female it is recommended to find a male relative, such as father or brother, who is willing to be tested
Why are there multiple tests available?
Each tests a different part of the DNA and returns results which are relevant to the part being tested. There are currently three avenues of testing, YDNA for paternal, mtDNA for maternal and Family Finder for ethnic origin.
The test you chose can be based on the line you are most interested in pursuing or one where you have come up against a brick wall in your research.
What kinds of DNA tests are available / what does each one provide?
For an in depth explanation of all the tests it is recommended to read the Types of Test FAQ on the familytreedna site.
How easy is it to provide the sample?
The kit which is sent out to you contains two swabs, two tubes, instructions, and the release form.
To provide a sample it is as easy as rubbing the cotton swab on the inner cheek of your mouth for about a minute and then returning it to the sealed tube. A second swab sample is then taken at least 4 hours later and after this the kit may be returned in the envelope.
Can I use these tests to determine Siblingship / Paternity / Maternity?
Put simply, yes. If two people who are not related take the test and compare their results then they should be able to see significant differences. “Family Finder” tests are sometimes informally used for this as they can work between genders.
However (especially with the lower end tests) it could be possible that the 2 people are related in some way in the past n generations making it hard to draw firm conclusions.
Given how important it is to get something like this correct we do not recommend these genealogical tests for this use. Our testing partner FTDNA does offer a “Speciality Testing Service”
Please email them for a quotation.


Can I order a test for someone else?
Yes, please place the product in the basket and then proceeded through the checkout by registering as a new user and filling in their name, gender and whichever address you would like the kit to be sent to.
Can I order tests for multiple people?
Yes, but please separate each person's tests into a different order. Each order provides a Family Tree DNA account which can be relevant to only one person.
What is the delivery cost?
Shipping is free on all products.
How long will it take the kit to reach me?
Kits are mailed directly from Family Tree DNA's testing lab in Houston, Texas. For international orders shipping can take up to several weeks. For orders from within the United States shipping is normally 3 to 5 business days but can take up to 10.

After Ordering

My kit has been lost or damaged, what do I do?
If you have lost or damaged your kit or you suspect that it has been lost in the mail please contact Family Tree DNA using their contact form. They will ship out a replacement kit the next business day.
How long will results take?
The average time from Family Tree DNA receiving your kit and posting your results to your account is six weeks. Once your kit has been received back you may login to your myFTDNA account here to check the actual expected results date.
Queries once ordered:
If you have placed an order and have a query about kits, results, or the online section of the familytreedna site it is best to open a ticket directly with them through their contact page.
If you would like a refund, please contact us. Please note the refund policy is detailed here