Ancestry DNA tests were brought to the general public with the proliferation of “direct-to-customer” business models. The results of these tests bring a plethora of ethnic, geographic, biological, demographic, and genealogical information. Putting it simply, they are the best windows into our genetic and genealogical past.
So, if you’re intent on unshrouding your first prehistoric ancestor, locating the geographic origins of your DNA, following its migration routes throughout history or simply connecting to unknown relatives all around the world, Ancestry DNA tests would be the right way to go about it. Not to mention the genetic “health risks” you might uncover and deal with along the way.
Bypassing the perplexing clutter that is the DNA-testing market of today is the primary purpose of this best ancestry DNA tests of 2018 overview.
Our team undertook an extensive theoretical, as well as practical research, and compiled the ultimate list of services to efficiently guide you through your ancestry exploration. The whole ranking process hinges on our professional ratings for each company, but also user feedback and overall satisfaction with performed services.
These are the best ancestry DNA tests currently available:
- Family Tree DNA lab ensures top-tier technology and results
- Budget-friendly ancestry test and effective user support
- Numerous benefits spaced across three subscription plans
- Largest database in the world with over 3 million users
- 700,000 genetic markers checked for 100% result precision
- 16 billion historical records, 200 million scanned documents
- 650,000 encoded markers checked at least 15 times over
- 80 world regions checked for matches, 21 in the British Isles
- Raw data download and unlimited free test updates
- Accurate and precise analysis of both ancestral lineages
- 800,000 DNA markers checked for optimal test accuracy
- 36 world regions covered with 862 reference populations
- Health and medical-related genetic reports in the results
- Deep ancestry reports, including Neanderthal DNA matches
- 31 world region examined for potential ethnic DNA matches
- 3 separate DNA tests with 6 varieties and 4 bundle options
- Free autosomal transfer from AncestryDNA and 23andMe
- The biggest DNA database with automated personal updates
- 4 different ancestry testing solutions with 99.99% accuracy
- Proprietary testing facility with ISO 10725 certification
- Partnerships with a multitude of relevant institutions
- 3 different iterations of ancestry testing available
- Kinship identification goes indefinitely into the past
- Free consultations with experts and written results
- Robotics technology included in the testing process
- Every test is done twice; 100% guaranteed accuracy
- Free pre-test consultations and Ph.D. results revision
- Next Gen DNA sequencing offering more detailed results
- Advanced haplogroups and 60 reference populations checked
- Access to all Helix apps and free Historical Genius Matching
Ranking Criteria Explained
The pool of our ranking factors can purposefully be divided into two sets of criteria – test-centric and customer-centric. The most prominent test-centric criteria include the number of genetic markers explored, result segmentation, and the accuracy of the tests, the last of which is closely linked to the sub-criterion of the likelihood of test errors and failures.
With those criteria, we measure the quality, reliability, and scope of the tests and the results they provide. The customer-centric criteria are used to determine the quality of the service provided and predict potential customer satisfaction. These include ease of the sample-collection process, turnaround times, user support quality, and price-to-quality ratio. Now that you are familiar with our ranking process, let’s explore each company on our list in depth.
MyHeritage is an Israeli DNA testing company launched in 2003 with corporate headquarters in Bnei Atarot. The founder of the company is Gilad Japhet, an entrepreneur and family historian. Apart from their main headquarters, MyHeritage also has company offices in New York and Utah.
Besides providing you with a detailed view of your genetics throughout the ages, MyHeritage also offers 2.6 million user profiles, 8.8 billion historical records, and over 40 million family trees created by the users. Their user count currently sits at around 91 million in 196 countries.
MyHeritage ancestry test is autosomal since it explores only your autosomal chromosomes and not the gender ones. This means that you won’t be able to get precise information regarding your direct paternal and maternal ancestral lineages since X and Y chromosomes are not tested.
MyHeritage test costs 99$ and it’s performed in Family Tree DNA’s laboratory. The facility is CLIA certified and holds state-of-the-art processing technology. The team in charge of genetic sequencing is experienced and highly professional, which leaves zero room for potential errors and test failures.
MyHeritage is a subscription-based site, offering additional tools and perks depending on your subscription level. The current plan list includes data subscription, MyHeritage Premium subscription, and MyHeritage Premium Plus subscription.
Data subscription (13.27$ per year) provides you with full access to Record Matches and SuperSearch. The MyHeritage Premium subscription comes with priority support, up to 2,500 individuals in your family tree, enhanced Smart Matching, Family Tree Builder Premium, and access to MyHeritage family sites and collections of members. MyHeritage PremiumPlus features priority email support, an unlimited number of people in your family tree, enhanced Smart Matching, Family Tree Builder Premium, Tree Consistency Checker, MyHeritage collection, and full access to Instant Discoveries.
The best ancestry DNA testing solution on the market, the all-in-one AncestryDNA test provides you with a myriad of valuable information and features. It has the world’s biggest DNA database, with around 3 million tested individuals, allowing you to easily discover genetic connections and new family lines. You can add relatives to your family tree on your own AncestryDNA page. You will also be provided with an Ethnicity map, which offers an interactive visual interface for exploring your worldwide ethnic roots, DNA Circles, which enables a multitude of DNA matches to pinpoint one common ancestor, and the “Map and locations” tool for locating the birthplaces of your ancestors, ranging 10 generations into the past (it is a special offer for all Ancestry Magazine subscribers). With AncestryDNA, you can download your raw DNA, which you can later use on several free DNA researching sites but also with different companies – should you decide to tap into their DNA databases. The results also uncover your potential Native American ancestry.
Since their DNA test encompasses Y and mt tests as well, separate results for direct parental/maternal lineages are no longer available. The price of the test is 99$ and the number of checked genetic markers is 700,000. Women and men can both take this test since they all carry the relevant genetic material.
The company takes part in numerous research projects and they’re offering their users an opportunity to take part in them as well. The main goals are making advances in understanding the history of human migrations, uncovering more about human health, exploring ties between our genetic makeup and traits, and much more. AncestryDNA database also contains more than 16 billion various historical records and genealogy resources, all made available to their customers.
The test utilizes a customized version of the Illumina Chip Tech called the Global Screen Array. It’s basically 3 different tests in one.
The results include family ancestry, fatherline ancestry, and motherline ancestry, as well as a map that shows the past development of your ancestral DNA matches. Family ancestry will give you an overview of the world’s regions featuring the highest similarity with your specific autosomal DNA signature. This segment looks at all relatives, regardless of the sides of the family tree. Fatherline ancestry is exclusively available to male customers. The Y-chromosome is explored, which provides information on your fatherline genealogy. The connection established will pinpoint ancestors tens of thousands of years into the past. You will also see the percentages of highest geographical impact for your haplogroup. Motherline ancestry will define your assignment in the maternal haplogroup. The results follow the same outline as fatherline inspections, only the mitochondrial DNA is tested instead of Y-chromosome. Mitochondrial DNA passes from mothers to children unchanged, so it allows us to follow the direct maternal heritage down to the first ancestor common to our haplogroup.
The biggest advantage of using the Living DNA test is their sheer geographical coverage. They’ll check 80 regions of the world, searching for your DNA matches. If you’re British, they feature the most detailed genetic breakdown of the British Isles, covering 21 regions.
The price of the test is 139$ and the results usually come within 10-12 weeks. All further updates are free of charge, though. The biggest disadvantage is the fact that they don’t allow free access to their database, which we expect to see changed in the near future.
GPS Origins is an ancestry DNA test developed and sold by DDC, one of the most prestigious and state-of-the-art testing providers on the market. The acronym stands for “Geographic Population Structure,” which is one of the main competitive edges of this test. It was designed to provide the most precise and accurate representation of ancestral lineages, pinpointing to exact towns and villages.
The test was created by Dr. Eran Elhaik, the multidisciplinary team leader at the University of Sheffield. DDC, on the other hand, was founded back in 1995 and has since provided its users with all kinds of high-quality DNA testing solutions. The main idea behind the company has always been to translate the latest scientific breakthroughs into actionable and widely available services.
The GPS Origins ancestry test (189$) checks 800,000 genetic markers, covers 36 regions of the world (gene pools), and takes 862 reference populations (or study bases) into account. This is where the aforementioned accuracy and precision stem from. Your genetic ancestry lines are traced up to 1,000 years in the past and the results also show the migration patterns of your maternal and paternal ancestors throughout the ages. Your DNA code is compared with the entire DDC database, which holds more than 10,000 genetic signatures. You can also transfer your raw data from Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, and AncestryDNA for 74$.
The basic 23andMe DNA test holds over 74 distinct reports, meaning you get great value for money with this ancestry DNA test. The report includes your DNA relatives, which can be sorted using any number of criteria, including your surname, mother’s or father’s side of the family tree, common birthplace, and so on. You can also establish contact with your DNA matches through this page and click every single one of them separately for more information. You also get your ancestry timeline, which allows you to see the origins of your genetic material. The test should additionally identify the first human carrying your DNA strain, as well as the percentage of Neanderthal variations left over in your genetic signature.
The test costs 99$ and can be expanded to include results regarding health and medical information. For 100$ extra, you can also receive a full report of genes carrying potential illnesses and other conditions. This is a service not offered by many companies and it certainly makes 23andMe stand out in the crowd.
The health-related “bonus” will examine 41 different health condition carriers, 7 wellness results, and 19 trait-defining genes. 23andMe is very active when it comes to scientific research and science acceleration. It also offers you the opportunity to take part in studies being done at various universities. Numerous fail-safes are put in place to guarantee the complete security of your personal data, which will not be shared with third parties without your explicit consent.
Family Tree DNA
The main Family Tree DNA (autosomal) test is called “Family Finder.” It provides you with a personal FTDNA profile with extensive possibilities of finding your DNA matches, the MyOrigins mapping tool for a detailed geographic and ethnic breakdown, and a map of your ancestral migration routes and the percentage of your DNA connection with ancient European civilizations, as well as Chromosome browser, which is an exclusive tool for comparing actual DNA segments with your new-found matches. They also offer the Family Matching feature for segregating your paternal and maternal lineage.
The test itself is designed to locate DNA relatives within the last 16 generations and it produces results in 4-6 weeks since the initial order. The results can be viewed online as soon as they’re available.
Family Tree DNA also allows for data transfer from Ancestry DNA and 23andMe. This allows you to comb through 3 different databases, looking for potential matches. Different people do their DNA testing through different companies, which makes every database very unique and a new genetic frontier to explore.
This service is absolutely free, but it’ll cost 19$ to unlock all of the features the Family Finder has to offer. We’re talking the Chromosome Browser, Ancient Origins, and so forth. The overall price of the test is 89$ and the test kit is shipped worldwide.
The company also features an extensive knowledge base and frequent educational webinars. The results are automatically updated free of any further charge. There are numerous volunteer-based projects you can join as FTDNA user and you’ll also get personalized user support.
EasyDNA is a DNA testing company with the widest international presence on the market. It was founded back in 2006 and currently operates 25 corporate offices spread across the world. The list of represented countries goes from the US and China all the way to Angola and Zimbabwe.
The company has performed more than 300,000 DNA tests since its inception, constantly focusing on providing the best possible service and user experience. It guarantees 99.99% accuracy for all tests. Their customer support is always available in all supported countries via phone, email or live chat.
EasyDNA offers more than 40 different testing solutions, including those designed for animals. Their ancestry testing portfolio is, however, comprised of 4 options. Developed by DDC, GPS Origins (229$) is the most advanced ancestry test available. Ancestral Origins Test (229$) provides an accurate representation of your geogenetic links with reference populations all over the world. The Paternal Lineage Test (619$) provides you with the complete origins of your paternal ancestors with their migration patterns over the years. The Maternal Lineage Test (189$) traces the origins of your ancestors from the mother’s side of the family tree. The results will show you the origination point of your maternal DNA and provide details on your ancestral maternal clans.
EasyDNA performs its sequencing in a proprietary laboratory with ISO 17025 certification. They employ the latest testing technologies and feature competent and professional staff. They ship worldwide, but also allow the possibility of creating your own testing kit if you so choose.
iGenea is a European DNA testing company founded in 2006 with corporate headquarters in Switzerland. The company was launched out of Joelle Apter’s passion for discovering the Jewish/Polish origins of her ancestors. Apart from iGENEA, she founded GenePartner and Websheep, where she also acts as CEO.
We often call iGENEA the European version of AncestryDNA since they both combine genetic scientific achievements with genealogical research. They use this interdisciplinary approach to provide us with knowledge about our ancestral roots, as well as about our origins as a species. iGENEA collaborates with Family Tree DNA and uses their testing facility and database.
iGENEA offers 3 testing iterations, including iGENEA Basic, iGENEA Premium, and iGENEA Expert.
iGENEA Basic (179EUR), which is also called “DNA Explorer,” is their basic autosomal ancestry test. The results will show you a world map with a detailed representation of your mixed origins determined by regions and percentages. This means the results will reveal the regions of the world your particular DNA signature originated from. iGENEA Premium (499EUR) is an upgraded version of the previous testing option, adding the results concerning your paternal and maternal ancestral lineages. It is a more personalized DNA analysis. iGENEA Expert (1279EUR) is the best DNA test iGENEA has to offer. The results provide a high-resolution DNA analysis, alongside a more detailed interpretation guide. The test checks around 710,000 SNPs on the autosomes and X chromosome and 111 STR and SNP markers on your Y chromosome.
iGENEA tests focus on European origins and ancestry and also provide results regarding potential Jewish heritage. Downloading raw data is also available.
DDC offers their ancestral DNA test through a different medium, so we’ll stick to the closest thing found on their official website.
The tests offering a modicum of ancestral insight include the Family Reconstruction test, Male Lineage test, and Female Lineage Test. The Family Reconstruction test is a cutting-edge tool for determining your DNA genetic pool without the father available. The test needs at least 3 paternal relatives for successful analysis. If there are less of them, the mother’s participation is required. The male lineage test is a classic Y-chromosome test, but it doesn’t have such a long reach into the past as our previous choices. It will determine your direct paternal lineage and it’s unavailable for females due to their XX gender chromosome composition. The female lineage test is a mitochondrial examination, which uncovers relatives in the direct maternal line.
The prices of these tests are not listed on the official website since they encompass too many factors for a successful price tag projection. Maternal/paternal lineage results usually come after 2-3 weeks and the family reconstruction turnaround time depends on numerous factors. The adequate estimate will be given during consultations.
The results will feature a Ph.D. revision straight out of the laboratory and you will have a knowledgeable user-support team available at all times. The tests are available in legal and non-legal iterations, depending on whether you’ll need the results to be a viable court document or not. Sample collection for non-legal tests can be done at home whereas legal testing requires a certified institution.
National Geographic Ancestry Test
National Geographic is a well-known company that has been researching the genealogy of the human species for over a century now. With all the latest scientific breakthroughs in the field of genetics, Nat Geo realized that genealogy provides the best results when paired with DNA exploration. So, in 2005, they partnered with Helix in order to bring us the National Geographic ancestry DNA test.
They’ve already tested more than 800,000 individuals from all corners of the world, providing them with detailed insight into their ancestral origins ranging 200,000 years in the past. They’ve also improved upon the original version of the test, bringing us Geno 2.0 Next Generation DNA Ancestry Kit.
The Nat Geo ancestry test features a next-generation sequencing protocol for a more detailed and precise ancestral outline. It checks 200,000 genetic markers, the Y-chromosome portion explores 10,000, and the mitochondrial segment covers 3,000. 60 reference populations are taken into account for a precise regional representation. Other highlights of this test include the Historical Genius match, which is now a free add-on, full access to a wide range of Helix apps and interactive maps with the most important genetic points of impact and ancestral migration patterns, and reports dedicated to your Neanderthal DNA percentages.
The test currently costs 149.95$ but you should also add shipping costs to that amount. The average turnaround time is between 6 and 12 weeks. National Geographic currently doesn’t allow raw data download, so we would definitely like to see this service implemented in the future.