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5 minutes
2 Jan 2024

How to collect DNA samples for a paternity test

Collecting samples for a paternity DNA test is arguably the most important step in the process. In this article, we provide guidance for individuals collecting their own DNA samples and describe the most common issues we come across.

DNA paternity test mouth swab

Complete the DNA test forms first

It is important to be organised before collecting your DNA samples. By completing the forms first, this prevents any potential mix-ups of test participants DNA samples. Here are the simple steps involved in completing the DNA collection and consent forms:

  1. Complete the enclosed collection and consent form with details for each test participant.
  2. Ensure your writing is clear and legible.
  3. Sign the consent form. Signatures are required to process your DNA samples.
  4. If the child is under the age of 16, a parent or guardian MUST sign consent on their behalf.
  5. Select your preferred payment option and indicate this on the form. This includes split payment and pay-by-link options.
  6. Complete the DNA sample collection envelopes for each test participant.
  7. If you require any assistance completing the collection and consent form, please call 0800 988 7107 to speak to a Clinical Advisor.

Collecting the DNA samples

Once the paperwork is complete, layout the sample collection envelopes ready for the corresponding samples for the correct test participant. It is important that you have completed the information on the sample collection envelope prior to collecting the DNA mouth swabs. Attempting to do this afterwards makes the envelopes difficult to write on and increases the risk of mixing up the samples.

  1. Swab - There are two mouth swabs for each test participant. Refrain from eating or drinking at least 1 hour before using the mouth swabs to reduce the risk of contamination from food and drink. To obtain the required DNA samples, rub the cotton end of the swab on the inside of the left cheek firmly at least 20 times. Repeat with the second swab on the inside of the right check. For guidance, please follow this link for a video on this process How to collect a DNA sample.
  2. Air dry - Both mouth swabs must be air dried before placing back into the sample envelopes. To achieve this, rapidly flick the swabs in the air for at least 15 seconds. Do not handle the cotton end. This will cause contamination of the DNA samples.
  3. Seal - Place the swabs into the relevant test participants sample envelope. Ensure all details are completed on the sample envelope and secure both swabs by sealing the flap.

Returning your DNA samples

Once all the samples have been collected and you have completed the collection and consent form IN FULL, please return these using the return pre-paid envelope provided. When we receive your samples, we will notify all test participants of their arrival via SMS text message.

Please make a note of your case reference on the slip provided in the kit. Ensure you remember your case password before returning your kit. You will need BOTH pieces of information if you wish to discuss your case on the telephone with our customer service team.

Results take up to 3 to 5 working days depending on the DNA test chosen. The working days are calculated from the time that the samples are received at the laboratory. If any samples received are inadequate, contaminated or degraded, new samples will be requested, and additional fees may apply.

Most common problems when collecting DNA samples

We have been providing DNA paternity testing services since 2005. During this time, we have come across many DNA sample collection issues that can impact the laboratory analysis. Here are some top tips on things to watch out for that can cause issues at the lab.

  1. Complete the forms and envelopes first, so the correct mouth swabs go into the correct sample envelope.
  2. Be careful when handling the mouth swabs. If you touch the cotton tipped end, this will contaminate the DNA sample.
  3. Remember to refrain from eating or drinking for about an hour before using the mouth swabs.
  4. Ensure you collect enough DNA sample from the inside of the cheek by following the guidance.
  5. Ensure you air dry the cotton tip end of the mouth swabs. If these are saturated with saliva, they can break through the collection envelope and become contaminated.
  6. Have a final check of the collection and consent form and sample collection envelopes. Missing information will lead to delays in your DNA test.

Issues resulting from the above will lead to delays in your DNA test, which of course we want to avoid. In addition, extra kits and swabs for re-collecting samples can lead to additional costs. If you follow the guidance provided, the risk of sample collection problems delaying your test will be reduced.

If you are having difficulty completing the paperwork or collecting your DNA samples, please call 0800 988 7107.