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Having your DNA tested allows you to:
- learn about your ethnic background as defined by your DNA
- connect with living distant relatives who share your DNA

  There are several DNA test providers who service family historians. They will send you a kit in which you provide a sample of your DNA (typically a small amount of saliva) and several weeks after you have returned the kit you will get an email with a link to the online genealogical analysis of your DNA.
  By examining your autosomal DNA and comparing it against reference populations around the world, the DNA test provider is able to provide you a percentage breakdown of your ethnicity. In addition some DNA test providers will examine your mitochondrial DNA to identify which maternal haplogroup you belong to. If you are a male, they will also examine your Y-DNA to identify which paternal haplogroup you are in. Haplogroups are mainly used for researching your antecedents long before the adoption of surnames.
  Those DNA test providers that maintain databases of their customer DNAs also offer the facility to match your DNA against those of other customers (who in practice mainly turn out to be 4th, 5th or 6th cousins). Typically you can see the profile of the matched living relative including the extent of matching and their email address.
  The following DNA test providers are ones we can recommend. Which one suits you will depend on which features are most important to you and what you are prepared to pay.

Ancestry DNA - If you already subscribe to Ancestry's records-based service then Ancestry DNA could well be the best option for you. If you don't and you want to see the family trees of matched relatives then you will need to factor in the extra cost of joining their records-based service (see Subscription Services for details). The big advantage Ancestry DNA has over the other two recommended DNA test providers is their database of over 6 million genotyped customers to match against (3 times bigger than that of 23 and Me)


Living DNA - Unlike Ancestry which only tests your autosomal DNA, Living DNA also tests your mitochondrial DNA and Y-DNA (if you are male). This allows it to report on as much as 200,000 years of your maternal lineage. If you are male Living DNA can report on as much as 180,000 years of your paternal lineage. A unique feature of Living DNA is its ability to break down your British Isles region ancestry into 21 sub-regions (East Anglia, Northwest England, etc.)


23 and Me - The cheapest of the three recommended providers. Although its database of genotyped customers to match against is not as large as Ancestry's, it is still a significant size at over 2 million. The abundance of diagrams and explanations make 23 and Me's report easy and enjoyable to go through.

Ancestry DNA Living DNA 23 and Me
  one-off cost 63 99 59
  subscription to associated records-based service
Required if you want to see the family trees of matched relatives - see Subscription Sites for details
  ethnicity regions 150 80 plus 21 sub-regions for the British Isles 31
  chromsone DNA tested
autosomal DNA
autosomal DNA
mitochondrial DNA
Y-DNA (males only)
autosomal DNA
mitochondrial DNA
Y-DNA (males only)
  customer DNA database
over 6 million genotyped customers to match against
no database
over 2 million genotyped customers to match against
contact with living matches email address provided not applicable email address provided
  linking of own family tree with those of matched living relatives provided feature if subscriber to Ancestry's records-based service not applicable not applicable
  waiting time for results
 6-8 weeks

10-12 weeks

6-8 weeks
This page last updated: 9 November 2018