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How to Get a DNA Test in UK?

What exactly is DNA? Deoxyribonucleic acid is a molecule that carries genetic information. It exists in all living organisms.

Common uses for DNA testing are child maintenance cases or inheritance disputes. This guide explains how to get a DNA test in the United Kingdom.

What Does Deoxyribonucleic Acid Test Tell?

It is possible to extract DNA from various sources (e.g. hair or nails). But, in most cases they will use a sample of your blood or saliva.

The results of getting a DNA test can either:

  • Prove that two people are definitely not related to each other (such as in paternity cases).
  • Show a very high probability that two people are related to each other (up to 99.99% proof).

What are DNA Tests Used For?

There are some common reasons to carry out DNA testing in the United Kingdom. It is often used in issues that involve parents and parenting and used to:

  • Apply to make contact with a child.
  • Apply for a visa so that a child can settle with you.
  • Solve a dispute relating to child maintenance.
  • Determine who inherits an estate after someone has died.

How to Book a DNA Test

In fact, you can arrange to get a DNA test yourself. If your case needs to go to court, they will accept the results if you use an accredited testing laboratory. But, if the court orders you to get tested then you must use one of the accredited testing labs.

Note: If the Child Maintenance Service orders you to get a DNA test they will state which laboratory you should use.

DNA Accredited Testing Laboratories in the United Kingdom

The list of government accredited testing laboratories for DNA testing includes:

Note: The Ministry of Justice will review their list of accredited laboratories in August every year [updated for 2022].

DNA Testing Cost

The testing laboratories set their own conditions and fees. You should check their individual websites for the most current details and prices.

Extra Fees for Child Maintenance Cases

The Child Maintenance Service can ask you to get a test if they think you might be the parent. In this case, the testing fee is £239.40 (for one child). They will refund the charge if the test shows you are not the parent.

Note: In some financial hardship cases, the Child Maintenance Service will pay the test fee. But, you would need to pay it back if the test proves you are the parent.

Providing DNA Evidence to the Home Office

In some cases, you may need to give evidence to the Home Office through DNA testing. A typical example would be to provide proof of a relationship to support an application for a visa or passport.

If so, you should only use a testing laboratory:

  • With ISO/IEC17025 accreditation.
  • Is following the Home Office ‘collection process’. Simply put, this requirement means you would need an independent witness to take the sample from you (e.g. someone working at the testing laboratory).

The person that you use as an independent witness would need to confirm your identity. Hence, you would need to:

  • Show them photographic identification (e.g. driving licence, valid passport). Children under the age of sixteen (16) can use a birth certificate.
  • Supply them with a passport-style photograph.

Note: Not using one of the laboratories that meets these requirements could result in the Home Office rejecting your evidence. If this happens, you would need to retake the test and cover the costs for doing so.

Refusing to Give a DNA Test

The person who carries out the test must have permission to do so. Thus, they can only take a DNA sample with the permission of (either):

  • The person being tested (if they are an adult).
  • A person with parental responsibility for people under the age of sixteen (16).

You can apply to the court for a ‘declaration of parentage’. You would be asking the court to accept a claim as to who someone’s parents are. Even so, the court may still decide to order a DNA test.

Make the cheque payable to ‘HM Courts and Tribunals Service’ and the cost for this application is £365. Check to see if you can get help with court fees (an exemption or a refund).

You should send the form and fee to a family court. Use the one that is nearest to the home of the person whose parents are getting DNA tested.

Legal Rights for Egg or Sperm Donors

As an egg or a sperm donor, the law could treat you as the legal parent of any child born from your donation.

Sperm Donor

Donating sperm through a Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) licensed clinic means you will not:

  • Be the legal parent of any child born from your donation.
  • Have any legal obligation to any child born or rights over how the child gets brought up.
  • Be asked to support the child on a financial basis or be named on the child’s birth certificate.

Note: Under United Kingdom law, donating sperm at an unlicensed clinic means you will be the legal father of any child born from your donation.

Egg Donor

UK law always considers the woman who gives birth to a child as the legal mother (even when using a donated egg). The HFEA website has further information and advice about egg donation.

How Much is a DNA Test in the United Kingdom