Why are the prices so different?
DNA test prices vary from company to company, so it is important that you learn how to choose the best company and service for your needs while factoring in price.
Several common factors in the DNA testing industry influence the price of tests, including:
- Sample Collection Method—The price of
chain of custody
DNA testing is usually higher than in-home DNA testing.
- Experience of Laboratory Staff—DNA testing should cost more if highly experienced laboratory staff
members are involved. Some DNA testing companies offer less expensive tests, but they use graduate students to process the DNA test samples.
- Reliability of Procedures—DNA testing services that include more steps to ensure the reliability of
your test, such as double-checking the results, will cost more and take more time than those that do not engage in as many procedural checks. Also, because of
the extensive testing needed to achieve accurate and reliable results, you should expect the results of a motherless paternity test to take
more time to analyze than a standard "trio" paternity test.
- Accredited DNA Testing—The price of DNA tests from accredited laboratories will be greater than the
price of non-accredited testing since there are more administrative and procedural requirements involved in the testing.
When choosing a DNA testing laboratory, you should consider the quality of the testing services while you consider
the costs. Some services may be significantly cheaper than others, but you should question the quality of testing you may receive from them.
Below you will learn how several factors affect the cost of DNA testing. Be sure to consider these factors before you buy a DNA test.
To review the prices of reliable DNA tests, visit the Price Differences page now.
Sample Collection Method - In-Home and Chain of Custody DNA Testing
DNA test prices vary based on the type of collection necessary. Typically, chain of custody tests are more expensive than in-home tests.
The difference in the cost is usually a result of:
- Required Collection Fees—Chain of custody test samples must be collected at an approved
collection site, such as a doctor’s office or a DNA collection center by a qualified third party.
- Greater Amount of Administrative Work—Legal tests require specific paperwork that must be completed
and notarized at certain steps of the testing process.
- More Lab Procedures—Constant monitoring and identification of the samples is necessary throughout
the process; some labs perform these procedures for their in-home tests as well.
If you need a legal DNA test, make sure you read about the techniques each DNA testing company uses before you choose a lab.
Some companies offer extremely cheap “legal” or “chain of custody” tests, but if you read the fine print, they are
not actually guaranteed to provide you court-defensible results. Oftentimes, these labs will send an in-home test kit for their “legal
tests” with instructions on how to collect the samples in a way similar to the
chain of custody
collection process. These are NOT considered legal tests and are not consistently accepted in court.
Legal collection cannot be performed at home.
In essence, you end up paying extra for an in-home DNA test when you are expecting a legally-defensible procedure.
You can learn more by visiting the Do you need a chain of custody test? page.
back to top
Experience of Laboratory Staff
Additional aspects you should consider before choosing a DNA testing company are the staff and the experience of the company.
Many companies offer considerably less expensive services than others, but they also frequently use university facilities and
graduate students to perform the procedures. You should consider the level of expertise you would like your DNA testing company
to have before you undergo testing. Think about the accuracy of results you would like to have before you choose
a DNA testing company.
A strong DNA testing company will provide its clients with information on the laboratory staff members and their professional experience.
When you choose a DNA testing company, be sure to consider the information provided about the laboratory directors, including their education, qualifications, and experience.
One of the best ways of determining the amount of experience laboratory staff members have is by looking at the professional organizations
to which the company's scientists belong. By participating in professional organizations, laboratory staff members are able to gain more experience
and expand their knowledge about the field of DNA testing.
Some of the most popular professional organizations for the DNA testing industry are:
Finally, consider how long the laboratory itself has been accredited by different professional organizations. When laboratories undergo the
accreditation process for professional organizations such as AABB or ASCLD, they are committing themselves to excellence in personnel and technical
accreditation processes require a lot of preparation and effort for laboratories. DNA testing laboratories that are accredited by several professional
organizations and/or those that have been accredited by a few professional organizations for a long time can be regarded as having staff members
who are experienced and well-trained in DNA testing. Visit the Accreditation section to learn more about the standard
professional accreditations DNA testing laboratories should attain.
back to top
Reliability of Procedures - Trio and Motherless Testing
The most common paternity testing procedures involve a "trio"—a child, the child's biological mother, and the alleged father of the child.
By testing a trio, the paternity of the child can be determined more easily. Since half of the child's DNA is inherited from the mother and
the other half from the father, comparing the child's sample to the biological mother's sample allows the laboratory to determine
what DNA has been inherited from the biological mother. The lab can then compare the portion of the child's DNA that has not been
inherited from the biological mother to the DNA of the alleged father. With both the mother's and alleged father's DNA, the paternity test can be
completed fairly quickly.
In some situations, a DNA sample from the biological mother is unavaible. In these cases, a motherless paternity
test is performed. A motherless paternity test only compares the alleged father's DNA to the child's DNA. Because of the more extensive DNA
analysis that is required in this procedure, motherless paternity testing requires more time and effort to complete.
Some DNA testing companies emphasize fast, reliable motherless paternity testing. Oftentimes, these companies sell these tests
at lower prices.
You should be wary of companies that advertise inexpensive, fast motherless tests. To generate reliable results, motherless tests
require more analysis than standard trio paternity tests. If a DNA testing company emphasizes inexpensive motherless
paternity tests with faster turnaround times than trio tests, you should question the reliability of the test results. Be sure to
research the company and its services before making a decision on this type of test.
back to top
Accredited DNA Testing
In many situations, DNA test results are needed for legal or court proceedings. If you are in such a situation, you need to undergo chain of custody testing.
To be admissible in court, the results of a DNA test must be generated and released by a DNA testing laboratory that is accredited by AABB and meets
other chain of custody related criteria.
Some DNA testing companies advertise "cheap AABB-accredited DNA tests," often at or below $100. If you need DNA test results for any legal or court
use, it is crucial that you determine whether the results are actually legally defensible. The tests may be performed in a laboratory that
is accredited by AABB and other organizations, but the laboratory staff may not be testing your DNA samples following a strict chain of custody process or through
court-admissible processes. In order to perform DNA tests through accredited chain of custody processing, the cost of the testing process is typically higher than performing DNA tests that are not
needed for legal purposes.
If you wish to order a "cheap AABB-accredited DNA test," make sure you check with the DNA testing company to ensure that the results of
the test will meet your needs. Determine if the test will truly yield legally-defensible results, or if the test is simply performed by a laboratory that
also performs chain of custody tests and does not necessarily apply accredited techniques or chain of custody processing to every test.
back to top
Visit the Price Differences page to see what costs you should expect when choosing a quality DNA