DNA Testing FAQs

Below are commonly asked questions about DNA tests, how they are used, why they are important, what they are for, what they test and how they can help you. For more specific information about fee schedules and ordering, you can visit the legal test page or the at-home test page

General

  • A paternity test is a scientific test that compares the DNA of a child, mother, and alleged father to determine the likelihood whether the man is or is not the biological father of a child.  It is possible to test only the child and alleged father, but it is preferred to also test the mother when possible.

  • A doctor’s order is not generally required. However, in compliance with New York state law, LabCorp requires a prescription, court order, or ordering by other authorized persons for all DNA identity or relationship tests performed on a New York resident.

  • If all parties involved in the testing agree to participate voluntarily, neither an attorney nor court order is required. However, in compliance with New York state law, LabCorp requires a prescription, court order, or ordering by other authorized persons for all DNA identity or relationship tests performed on a New York resident.

  • It is possible to conduct a DNA paternity test without a sample from the child’s biological mother; however, it is preferred that the mother also provide a sample.

  • No. Age and drug consumption do not affect the results. A person’s DNA used in paternity testing does not change over time.

  • If two related men are possible fathers of a child, it is highly recommended to test both possible fathers. If this is not possible, it is important to alert the laboratory that there are other possible fathers who are related to the tested alleged father.

  • Your privacy and security are important to us. Once samples are taken at the collection site, they are packaged in a tamper-proof bag for shipment to our DNA testing laboratory. Entry into our DNA testing facility is by restricted access only. All samples are bar-coded and all computer systems are secured. Results and case information are shared only with authorized individuals. For the protection of the tested parties, results are not released over the phone. All samples and DNA profiles are retained for a period of time (as required by accreditation guidelines), but are destroyed after the requisite storage periods.

  • The DNA markers that are tested for relationship testing are not known to provide any information on any specific physical or medical condition that might affect your health care insurance.

  • LabCorp has been a leader in the genetic testing field for more than 30 years. Our results come with the guarantee of quality and are delivered with speed, convenience and most importantly, accuracy.  Our results routinely provide a probability of paternity of either 99.99% or 0%. Whether you just need to know or will need results that can be used in a legal matter, LabCorp should be your first step in this journey.

Specimen Collection

  • It is preferable to test a child, alleged father, and the mother of the child. However, testing is possible without the mother’s sample and in certain circumstances, such as when the alleged father is unavailable or deceased, it is also possible to conduct a test using stored DNA samples from the alleged father or DNA from his biological relatives.

  • The standard sample for a paternity test is a cheek swab (also called buccal swab), which is a long cotton swab that is rubbed inside the inner cheek lining of a person’s mouth.  Typically, four swabs are collected from each tested party.

  • Buccal swabs and blood samples provide results with the same degree of accuracy. But, since buccal swabs are easy and painless to collect, they are used in the majority of DNA paternity tests.

  • No, there is no minimum age. Collection of DNA samples for paternity or identity testing using buccal swabs or blood samples is safe for all ages.  Minors must have appropriate consent from a legal guardian or a court order to collect the samples.

  • The samples for a legal DNA paternity test are collected by one of our company-operated or contracted sites throughout North America.  The samples for a non-legal test are collected by the parties themselves in a non-clinical setting (usually at home).

  • LabCorp has a nationwide network of more than 900 locations that perform DNA collections by buccal swabs. There are no additional fees for samples collected at a LabCorp facility  LabCorp also has contracts with more than 10,000 collection sites globally, where collection fees may apply. Please use our Collection Site Locator to find a site located near you.

  • No, parties can provide their samples at different times and in different cities or states. LabCorp has a large specimen collection network making it convenient for all parties to submit samples.  When placing your order, let us know if certain parties should be scheduled together or separately.

  • Yes, whether you are doing a legal test or non-legal test, the samples can be taken at different times and places, even if the parties reside in different cities or states.

  • In a legal test, each adult party is required to provide government-issued photo identification at the time of collection. The specimen collector examines the identification and either records that information on the Chain of Custody form or makes a photocopy to attach to the Chain of Custody form. In addition, a photograph is also taken of each party. Minor children are identified through an official birth certificate.  If a government-issued photo ID is available for the child, this will be used, as well.  

  • In a legal test, each adult tested party should bring a government-issued photo identification (usually a driver’s license or passport) and, if possible, government-issued identification for the child (such as a birth certificate).

  • In a non-legal test, standard cheek swab specimens may be collected in a non-clinical setting such as a home. However, the DNA test results conducted using such samples are not intended for use in a court of law. Results using samples collected at home will be for the knowledge of the tested parties only.

  • Food consumption does not affect your DNA but could contaminate the buccal swab used for DNA sample collection.  Food residue left in the mouth may contaminate the swab and inhibit the extraction of DNA from the swab. If you have eaten recently, the collection technician will ask you to rinse out your mouth.

Prenatal DNA

  • DNA testing can be conducted prenatally using either a chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniotic fluid sample, which can be collected during pregnancy by your personal qualified medical practitioner.

  • A Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) is a sample of the placenta that is collected during early pregnancy by a qualified medical practitioner.

  • This is a procedure to collect an amniotic fluid sample and is performed during early pregnancy a qualified medical practitioner.

  • These sample types are collected by a physician. If a decision is made to perform prenatal testing, a collection kit with a Chain of Custody form and shipping instructions will be provided to your physician.

  • The doctor may collect buccal swab samples from the alleged father and the mother. If the physician prefers not to do this collection, LabCorp can arrange an appointment for the alleged father and the mother at one of our local collection sites.

  • A doctor’s order is not generally required. However, in compliance with New York state law, LabCorp requires a prescription or court order for all DNA identity and/or relationship tests performed on a New York resident.

  • If all parties involved in the testing agree to participate voluntarily, neither an attorney nor court order is required. However, in compliance with New York state law, LabCorp requires a prescription or court order for all DNA identity or relationship tests performed on a New York resident.

  • The mother's sample is required in every prenatal test.  The mother's sample is tested to ensure that the fetal sample is pure and originates from the fetus, and not the mother.

Fees

  • LabCorp’s fee includes specimen collection at a LabCorp-operated facility, shipment of the samples to our DNA laboratory, DNA analysis, the generation of written reports and the shipment of those reports to the tested parties by mail/email and to their attorneys, if applicable.

  • LabCorp fees include the specimen collection(s) when samples are collected at a LabCorp-operated collection site. Collection fees may apply at non-LabCorp facilities.

  • DNA paternity testing is considered a non-medical test and is not covered by health insurance plans.

Results

  • In most cases, the results of a standard DNA paternity test take 3–5 business days once all samples are received in our DNA testing laboratory.

  • LabCorp results usually provide a probability of paternity of either 0.00% or 99.99% or greater.

  • LabCorp is a fully accredited laboratory.  Thus, results of our legal DNA paternity test may be used in any legal matter and may be accepted in a court of law, assuming the Chain of Custody form was completed in accordance with LabCorp’s strict chain of custody guidelines. The results of a non-legal test are not intended for use in legal matters.