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Can You Get a DNA Test Done for Free?
Updated on February 8, 2024
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DNA Testing
Can You Get a DNA Test Done for Free?

Key Takeaways

Can You Get a DNA Test Done for Free? 1

Yes, there are some ways to get a DNA test done for free. 

However, these methods can come with limitations or drawbacks that are important to consider before you pursue them. It is also important to remember that there are different types of DNA tests, and you should be sure to learn which types are best suited to your needs.

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What is DNA Testing For?

Getting your DNA tested can give you a variety of insights into your family tree, your health, and more. Because of the huge amount of genetic data that can be gleaned from DNA, there are also many different kinds of DNA tests with different purposes.

The Purpose of DNA Testing

Genetic genealogy is a popular reason for DNA testing. You can learn more about your ancestry and family tree with genealogical testing.

DNA testing companies doing genealogical testing will usually analyze a DNA sample from you, usually in the form of saliva. They will analyze your DNA data and compare it to the genetic data of others in a database.

Genealogical DNA tests can help you:5

  • Determine where in the world your ancestors are from
  • Get a more detailed breakdown of your ethnic background
  • Learn about your family tree and find family members you may be unaware of
Can You Get a DNA Test Done for Free? 2

There are also medical applications for DNA testing. Your raw DNA data can be analyzed for certain genetic traits that could indicate you are at risk for some diseases or that you could be a carrier for certain genetic conditions.

DNA testing enables doctors to assess genetic conditions during pregnancy and even conditions that need confirmation once a person exhibits symptoms.

It is important to remember that while a DNA testing company can provide potentially helpful information regarding your health, DNA tests are not substitutes for clinical testing.

Any results you get from these tests relating to your health should be verified with further tests and consultations with a healthcare professional.6

Types of DNA Tests

There are three types of genealogical tests that DNA testing companies usually provide:5

Autosomal DNA tests

These provide DNA analyses of autosomal DNA, which is the DNA found in chromosomes other than the X or Y chromosomes.

Autosomal DNA tests can give you information about your ancestry on both your mother’s and father’s sides of the family. Because of how quickly these chromosomes change when they are passed between parents and children, autosomal DNA tests mostly give accurate information about the previous seven generations of your family. 

Autosomal DNA tests are more encompassing as they don’t rely on a person's chromosomal sex. DNA data can be analyzed from either biological sex.

Can You Get a DNA Test Done for Free? 3

Y-DNA tests

These tests analyze DNA data found in the Y chromosome, which is linked to the male sex. Because of this, the test can only be performed on biological males. Y-DNA tests can give you information about your ancestry on your father’s side of the family tree. 

Mitochondrial DNA tests

Mitochondrial DNA tests (also known as mtDNA tests) provide DNA analysis of the DNA found in your mitochondria.

Your mtDNA is inherited only from your mother, so this test can tell you about your ancestry on your mother’s side of the family tree. Since all people have mtDNA, this test can be performed on biological males and females.

Free vs. Paid DNA Testing

Many companies offer paid DNA testing, which requires taking a DNA sample with a kit that you purchase.

There are also free options for DNA testing, but these will usually require that you already have a copy of your raw DNA data, which can be analyzed using different methods.1 Some companies will allow you to upload your raw DNA data to their database, and they’ll interpret it for you for free.

Can You Get a DNA Test Done for Free? 4

Limitations of Free DNA Tests

One of the main limitations of free DNA tests is the need for raw DNA data. However, there is evidence that both free and paid DNA tests are not always accurate.2-4

What are Some Free DNA Test Analysis and Online Tools?

The first step in DNA testing is having your DNA sample analyzed. One common way to do this is by paying for a DNA test kit from a DNA testing company.

If you already have your raw DNA data, several services can analyze your DNA data for free, allowing you to get even more insights out of a DNA test. Most of these services will be done by analyzing your autosomal DNA.

If you don’t have your raw DNA data, the section below lists some possible ways to get free DNA test kits.

Major DNA Testing Company Tools

Many DNA testing companies sell DNA test kits and provide free DNA analysis if you already have a copy of your raw DNA data from another testing service.

  • Family Tree DNA is a DNA testing company that offers a free family finder platform if you already have a copy of your raw DNA data. Their platform allows you to upload your autosomal DNA data from other major testing companies and will use it to try and connect you with new relatives.7
  • MyHeritage offers genetic genealogy tools that can be used even without a copy of your raw DNA data. These include a family tree builder which lets you create and publish your family tree, as well as an ancestry database that you can search for free, though viewing detailed results and access to DNA analysis will require a paid subscription.8

Third-Party DNA Tools

In addition to DNA testing companies, there are also third-party services that don’t offer DNA test kits but will still offer free DNA analysis services if you have your raw DNA data.

One example is DNA Painter, which is dedicated to helping you understand your genetic genealogy in a deeper and more accessible way. One of their services is chromosomal mapping, which allows you to learn what parts of your DNA came from which of your ancestors.

Can You Get a DNA Test Done for Free? 5

Unlike other free tools, you do not upload raw DNA data to DNA Painter. Instead, you will need DNA segment DNA which is offered by certain sites, including Family Tree DNA, GEDmatch, and MyHeritage. You will also need raw DNA data to get DNA segment data from these sites.9

GEDmatch

GEDmatch is a popular free DNA analysis site with over 45 tools to help you learn about your ancestry and find relatives.

Their free tools can help you compare your genetic data with other users in their DNA database, compare your DNA with individual users, and learn more about your heritage in general.10

DNAGedcom

DNAGedcom is a set of DNA analysis tools that allows you to manage genetic data from other sites and services.

Their tools allow you to gather your autosomal DNA data and data on people with matching DNA, family trees, and ethnicity. Once you have gathered all this data in one place, you can do a much more detailed analysis, including DNA segment analysis, which allows you to discover which parts of your DNA you share with different relatives.

While creating an account is free, many of the DNAGedcom tools require a program to be installed on your computer, as well as a paid subscription to use this program.11

Can You Get a DNA Test Done for Free? 6

How to Get a Free DNA Test Kit

While a range of free DNA analysis tools are available, you will need raw DNA data to use these, which you can get through a DNA test kit. Usually, you will have to pay for one of these test kits, but there are some ways you could try to get one for free or at a discount.

Special Promotions and Discounts

Major DNA testing companies like 23andme and AncestryDNA will sometimes offer discounts on their DNA test kits. 

To find these, you can keep an eye on their social media accounts or do a web search for existing promos and discounts.

DNA Testing for Research Purposes

Some ongoing research initiatives dedicated to genetics and health research can give you a free DNA test in exchange for your data being used in their studies. However, these research projects will usually have certain eligibility criteria you will have to meet to be included.

The All of Us Research Program is an initiative of the National Institutes of Health, which seeks to understand the role that our genes and other health characteristics play in how and why diseases affect different people in different ways.

Anyone over 18 years old who is living in the United States is eligible to participate in All of Us. If you contribute a DNA sample, you will be able to access information about your ancestry and how your DNA could affect your health on the All of Us platforms. The NIH has also stated it intends to provide participants with their raw DNA data.12,13

Can You Get a DNA Test Done for Free? 7

The 23andme Global Genetics Project is an initiative to increase the diversity of its DNA database and to help the company study the migration of people throughout history.

Joining this program will allow you to get a free DNA test kit and free DNA analysis. However, only people with ancestries from certain countries are eligible. To see if you are eligible, you can check the list of countries on the Global Genetics Project website.14

Community and Crowd-Sourced Projects

There are also several crowdfunded or community projects that can give you a free DNA test kit if you meet certain criteria.

The International Society of Genetic Genealogists keeps a list of projects offering free DNA tests for individuals that have certain last names. It is also important to remember that many of these only offer Y-DNA tests, meaning only biological males are eligible.15

DNA Quest is an initiative from MyHeritage that provides free DNA testing for adopted people looking to find their biological parents. Free tests are limited, but there is a waiting list that you can join.16

What to Consider Before Taking a DNA Test

DNA tests can be insightful and impactful, but there are several factors you should consider before taking a DNA test.

Privacy and Data Security

Your DNA contains extremely personal information regarding your ancestry, family, and physical health. Because of this, privacy and data security should be top of mind when looking for DNA testing companies and free DNA upload sites.17

DNA analysis sites can have security vulnerabilities that can put your data at risk. DNA testing companies can also use your genetic data and personal information for reasons that you might not be aware of. This can include sharing your data with researchers or other third parties.18

If you want to take a DNA test, make sure you are aware of all these risks before sharing your data with DNA testing companies.

Can You Get a DNA Test Done for Free? 8

Test Accuracy and Reliability

Accuracy and reliability can also be major concerns with DNA testing, especially when it comes to medical testing.

One study looked at 49 people who had consulted with medical professionals after results from a consumer DNA test said they had genetic variations that put them at risk of certain diseases. The study found that 40% of these cases were false positives.

Any medically relevant information you get from a DNA test should always be confirmed with a healthcare professional.2

Accuracy can also be an issue when it comes to ethnicity or ancestry data, with some research showing ethnicity estimates can vary greatly between companies.3

Potential Emotional Impact

Your DNA test results can be interesting and insightful, but they can also bring on negative emotions as well. Ancestry results can impact your sense of identity, and medical results can indicate potential health issues. Both of these can result in stress or anxiety.

It can be helpful to get in touch with a geneticist or genetic counselor when interpreting these results.1

Common Questions About Free DNA Tests

How Accurate Are Free DNA Tests?

Like other DNA analysis services, free DNA tests can have varying degrees of accuracy.

Ethnicity results can vary between different services, potentially making learning about your ancestry confusing. Many of these tests are also not regulated, which means there is no research that can verify how accurate their claims are.

If you are worried about the accuracy of a free DNA test, you should consult an expert, especially when you are dealing with medical tests.2-4

Can a Free DNA Test Identify a Person?

While you can take measures to protect your personal information, your DNA is still unique to you and could be used to identify you. It could also be used to identify your family or other relatives, even if they have not taken DNA tests.19,20

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Updated on February 8, 2024
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20 sources cited
Updated on February 8, 2024
  1. Kirkpatrick, BE, Rashkin, MD. “Ancestry Testing and the Practice of Genetic Counseling.” Journal of Genetic Counseling. 04 Oct. 2017.
  2.  Tandy-Connor S, et al. “False-positive results released by direct-to-consumer genetic tests highlight the importance of clinical confirmation testing for appropriate patient care.” Genetics in Medicine.” 22 Mar. 2018.
  3. Huml, AM, et al. “Consistency of Direct to Consumer Genetic Testing Results Among Identical Twins.” American Journal of Medicine. 15 Jun. 2019.
  4. Regulation of Genetic Tests.” National Human Genome Research Institute. 2 Feb. 2022.
  5. Genetic Genealogy.” Library of Congress. 11 Sept. 2023.
  6. Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing FAQ for Healthcare Professionals.” National Human Genome Research Institute. 30 Mar. 2022. 
  7. Autosomal Transfer.” FamilyTreeDNA.
  8. Is MyHeritage Fee?” My Heritage.
  9. What do you need to get started?” DNA Painter.
  10. GEDmatch.” GEDmatch.
  11. DNAGed.” DNAGed.
  12. Participation.” All of Us Research Program. 16 Jul. 2021.
  13. “American Society of Human Genetics–All of Us Educational Session Q&As.” All of Us Research Program. 27 Oct. 2020.
  14. 23andMe Global Genetics Project.” 23andMe.
  15. Free DNA Tests.” International Society of Genetic Genealogy. 
  16. DNA Quest.” DNA Quest.
  17. Roberts, C. “The Privacy Problems of Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing.” 14 Jan. 2022.
  18. McDermott, A. “Study uncovers new privacy worries for direct-to-consumer DNA testing.” PNAS. 14 Feb. 2020.
  19. 23 reasons not to reveal your DNA.” Internet Health Report. Apr. 2019.
  20. Hale, T. “DNA Home Kits Can Be Used To Track You Down, Even If You’ve Never Taken One.” 12 Oct. 2018.
Will Hunter
Will Hunter
Content Contributor
Will is a content writer for KnowYourDNA. He received his B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Will has 7 years of experience writing health-related content, with an emphasis on nutrition, alternative medicine, and longevity.
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