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Paternity tests prove whether or not a man is the biological father of a child. Paternity testing providers need a cheek swab sample from both the child and the ‘alleged’ father, and these samples are then compared to see if there’s a genetic match.
On purchasing, the provider will send you a testing kit with everything you need to take the samples. You can take the samples at home and after you send the kit back, they’ll be in touch with the results a few days later. You can choose how you are contacted, with email generally being the quickest service. Some providers offer express services but these often come with extra fees.
Look out for companies selling cheap kits. That’s exactly what they are – just the kit and no testing. Providers then charge more to actually run the test when you return the samples.
Are paternity tests available on the NHS?
Unfortunately not. Paternity tests are not available on the NHS at this time.
’Peace of mind’ or ‘legal’ test?
There are two types of service for paternity testing: ‘Peace of mind’ tests and ‘legal’ tests – legal tests are court admissible. The science behind the tests is exactly the same – the difference is that for court admissible tests, somebody official needs to watch them being taken so the court is assured that the samples came from the right people. Court admissible tests also require that the samples be handled securely all the way to the lab.
In a rush?
One paternity testing provider lets you send in samples without the need to use a kit! This is the Collect & Send™ product from the Genetic Testing Laboratories, aka GTLDNA. Be warned, specific instructions on their website for collecting the sample must be followed carefully to ensure they receive what they need.
Are the tests accurate?
Paternity tests are 100% accurate at ruling somebody out, at saying someone is not the child’s biological father. Paternity tests are between 99.99% and 99.9999% accurate at confirming whether someone is the child’s biological father, depending on the provider. The test is more accurate if you test both the ‘alleged’ and the ‘known’ parent.
The tests compare DNA from both parties at certain ‘DNA locations’ to establish a genetic match. Most providers check 16 locations, some check up to 68 which improves the accuracy but which costs more.
Watch out for VAT and hefty postage being added at the checkout. Some providers with offices in the UK will use labs overseas, so if having your samples tested in the UK is important to you (and the provider’s website isn’t clear) check out our listings for these details.