Genealogy exploration reached its true potential once it was complemented by breakthroughs achieved in genetics. Instead of relying just on sparse historical records, oral interviews, and old documents, we could suddenly map our entire genome and carve a precise picture of our place in history.
The very term comes from the words “generation” and “knowledge,” which perfectly depicts the purpose of our best genealogy tests review. It will guide you through the optimal ways of obtaining genetic information about your family and demonstrate kinship with relatives you didn’t even know existed.
- Largest database in the world with over 3 million users
- 700,000 genetic markers checked for 100% result precision
- 16 billion historic 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
- One of the most accurate tests with 800,000+ SNP checked
- The test covers 36 regions and 862 reference populations
- Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, and AncestryDNA raw data transfer
- 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 database
- The biggest DNA database with automated personal updates
- Modern processing laboratory with highly skilled staff
- A multitude of payment options with worldwide shipping
- Partnerships with clinics and other relevant institutions
- Interdisciplinary approach combining 3 scientific fields
- iGENEA DNA tests explore more than 500,000 genetic markers
- Written copy of the results and downloadable raw data
- Robotics technology included in the testing process
- Every test is done twice; 100% guaranteed accuracy
- Free pre-test consultations and Ph.D. results revision
- DNA processing is performed in Family Tree DNA laboratory
- Advanced system for matching people with the same ancestry
- Automatic extension of the user's historical paper trail
- 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
Our professional team examined every relevant aspect of the genealogy tests on our list, using an extensive set of pre-determined ranking determinants.
Here are the factors we took into consideration while researching for this best genealogy tests review.
- Variety of DNA tests offered
- Number of checked DNA markers (locations within our entire genome)
- The temporal “scope” of the test, determining how far we can reach into the past
- Quality of the testing facility
- Skill and professionalism of the scientific and user-support staff
- Room for errors/potential test failures and solutions available in those situations
- Average turnaround time and reports delivery
- Features offered and overall membership benefits
- Ways of matching with DNA relatives and database size
- Development stage of the community
- Prices and cost-to-benefit ratio
- Possibility of raw data download
- Opportunity to take part in research projects
- Variety of payment and shipping options
- Statewide or international shipping
- Shipping costs
AncestryDNA belongs to the broadest genealogy conglomerate on the market. There are numerous companies and projects behind Ancestry brand, such as Ancestry online magazine, AncestryHealth, Archives.com, Family Tree Maker, and others. They also incorporate the largest user database, comprising over 5 million samples collected.
Users particularly interested in all fields of their genealogy can also subscribe to their magazine, which features over 16 billion historical records, 700 million names spread across numerous family trees, and around 200 million scanned photographs, documents, and written stories. The magazine currently has around 2 million paying subscribers.
Their main test is called “Ancestry DNA Test” and it includes autosomal, Y-chromosome, and mitochondrial inspection, all bundled in one. This, however, means that you can’t order just mitochondrial or Y-chromosome testing.
Ancestry DNA Test costs 99$ and here are its highlights:
- 700,000 genetic markers checked, which promises a highly accurate procedure.
- Test results cover 26 regions of the world and also provide info on your potential Native American ancestry.
- Matching your DNA against 4 million samples located in their database, which promises the largest number of relatives found.
- An interactive map of your ethnicity, allowing you to inspect your genetic relatives on a geographical scale, including their permanent settlements and migration patterns.
- DNA Circles, which allow for cluster generation with relatives found throughout the procedure.
- “Map and Locations” map, as an add-on exclusive to Ancestry Magazine subscribers. The map is designed to pinpoint the birthplaces of your ancestors, reaching up to 10 generations.
- Test results are usually complete within 6-8 weeks.
AncestryDNA recently announced the expansion of their shipping capabilities to 35 countries around the world.
Living DNA Review
Living DNA is by far the youngest DNA testing company on the list, being founded just last year. However, its father company is DNA Worldwide Group, which has been one of the major players on the market since 2004. It brought their fresh platform through co-operation with hundreds of renowned scientists, researchers, and genetic experts, as well as Family Tree DNA and Scotland’s DNA.
The factor that helps differentiate Living DNA from all similar companies is their thorough world coverage. They examine 80 regions of the world, searching for origins of your ancestral line. They also offer the most detailed coverage of the British Isles, represented by 21 different regions.
Living DNA Ancestry Test doesn’t differentiate autosomal and lineage testing, employing the widely accepted 3-in-1 approach. As we mentioned already, this kind of test doesn’t provide the possibility of separating the results or ordering a particular kind of DNA examination.
The test costs 159$ (expensive, but with frequent discounts). Here’s what it offers in return:
- 650,000 DNA markers checked for great result accuracy.
- Ultimate geographical information and ethnic coverage.
- The test reaches thousands of years into the past.
- “Back in Time” map, which provides a comprehensive and detailed historical outline of your genetic ancestry.
- Average turnaround time for the results is between 10 and 12 weeks.
Living DNA still doesn’t allow matching with found relatives, but they promise this possibility in the near future. Their sample database is still relatively modest, considering it takes a lot of time to build one to proportion.
GPS Origins Review
GPS Origins is one of the most famous genealogy DNA tests on the market, owing much of its reputation to the fact that it was developed by DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC). Created with the aim of providing users with the most accurate report of their genetic origins, it has earned the trust of thousands upon thousands of people worldwide. One of its main strengths is that it can actually identify the exact place where your DNA line began.
While DDC may not require a long introduction, it is important to note that they are among the leading genetic DNA test providers in the world, renowned for their use of state-of-the-art technology and robotic sequencing, which guarantees absolute precision. DDC was established way back in 1995, maintaining their place on the market for more than two decades now, which does speak a lot about the way they handle business. They were among the first to provide the general public with DNA services that make use of the latest scientific breakthroughs.
All of these features have also helped GPS Origins become the test it is today. The brainchild of Eran Elhaik, who works at the University of Sheffield and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, this test can truly meet all your genealogy DNA testing needs. Like many similar tests, this one also allows you to collect your DNA sample at home. After creating an account and filling out a questionnaire on the website, the DNA test will be sent to your home address. All you then have to do is perform a buccal swab to collect your sample, place it in the pre-paid envelope, and send it back. After 4-6 weeks, DDC will finish your report, which you can either read online or download to the device of your choice.
With strong backers like Google, Genentech, New Enterprise Associates, and others, 23andMe have had the resources necessary to dive right into high-level genetic research from the start.
23andMe is the only company on our list offering health-related results alongside their autosomal ancestry DNA test. The main test is simply called “Ancestry Service” and it comes with the price tag of 99$. The genetic health add-on costs 100$ extra and it’s entirely optional. 23andMe was the first company ever to receive an FDA approval for their health-related direct-to-customers DNA testing kit.
Let’s take a look at the Ancestry Service Test highlights:
- Matching your DNA signature with 31 known DNA sample populations. This means that 23andMe incorporates 31 regions of the world into their DNA examination, which is somewhere in the middle of the region coverage spectrum.
- Genetic heritage exploration, which uncovers the origins of your DNA strain. Further research into this is possible through the offered ancestry timelines.
- Determination of your haplogroup, showing you the origins of the first ever bearer of your DNA.
- Neanderthal DNA leftovers, demonstrating percentages of your genome inherited from Neanderthal ancestors.
If you also opt for genetic health testing, you can expect the following results:
- 41 different health conditions explored
- 19 personal traits
- 7 wellness traits
This test allows you to identify potential disease-carrying genes in your entire genome. You can then take preemptive measures to prevent them from “activating,” causing an outburst of certain hereditary conditions.
Family Tree DNA Review
Family Tree DNA was born in 1999, when Gene by Gene corporate conglomerate made an executive decision to isolate its genetic genealogy department. By that time, they’ve gathered more than ample experience with over 5 million tests executed.
Family Tree DNA is a DNA testing company with the broadest offer of separate ancestry DNA tests on the market. Besides their signature autosomal test called “Family Finder,” they also provide numerous Y-chromosome and mitochondrial tests. The difference lies in the number of genetic markers tested. Y-chromosome tests can check 37, 67 or 111 DNA markers, providing ultimate accuracy and going up to 340,000 years into the past. Mitochondrial tests come in HRV1 + HRV2 and full sequence iterations. They reach up to 180,000 years into the past.
Every test allows you to:
- Connect with your newly-found matches.
- Access experts on your genetic lineage and be a part of group projects.
- Update your results free of charge.
- Attend free webinars, held by professional genetic genealogists.
- Solve any potential issues through personalized user support.
The “Family Finder” DNA test costs 89$ and provides the following benefits:
- Examination of 22 autosomal chromosomes, looking at about 690,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms.
- Genetic relative matching within their database of about 500,000 samples.
- Personal family tree feature.
- Lineage tracing throughout history.
- Uncovering geographical areas of your genetic impact.
- Single chromosome comparisons via proprietary Chromosome Browser tool.
- Inspecting the migration routes of up to 16 generations of your ancestors.
- The tests itself can be bundled with various Y-tests and full sequence mitochondrial test as well.
- Average turnaround period between 4-10 weeks.
- Raw data download available.
EasyDNA is a truly international DNA testing provider with corporate offices in 25 countries all over the world. They cover everything from the US to Angola and Zimbabwe. The company has executed more than 300,000 DNA tests, always striving to optimize its service and user experience. EasyDNA received the WhatClinic’s Customer Service Award two years in a row, in 2013 and 2014.
EasyDNA testing laboratory is ISO 17025 certified, which means its staff possesses the technical skills and qualifications and the equipment is quality-tested and calibrated. The system used for sample processing is called “PowerPlex 16” and it comes with a 99.99% accuracy guarantee. Exclusion rate, on the other hand, is solid at 100%. Apart from relationship DNA tests, this system is also used in human identity testing, forensic DNA examinations, and so on.
EasyDNA incorporates the at-home testing method, meaning they’ll deliver a testing kit right at your doorstep. In order for that to happen, you first have to place an order through their website. After you’ve received your personal testing kit, you can perform the buccal swab and collect the DNA samples of interested parties. One testing kit comes with buccal swabs for three individuals.
The kit comes with a return envelope, so you can simply mail the specimens back to the lab and await your results. The average turnaround time depends on the test in question. Digital results delivered by email are completely free but you also have the option of ordering a hard copy for an additional fee.
iGENEA is a DNA testing provider founded back in 2006, with corporate headquarters in Switzerland. The company’s founder Joelle Apter holds a master’s degree in both genetics and anthropology and has created iGENEA on her quest to uncover the Jewish/Polish origins of her ancestors. She is also the founder and CEO of Websheep and GenePartner.
We always like to compare iGENEA with AncestryDNA since they’re pretty much the same thing, one in the US, the other in Europe. Both companies strive to create a symbiosis of genetic and historical (genealogical) research. They utilize these achievements to obtain more information about humans as a species.
iGENEA collaborates with Family Tree DNA and utilizes their processing facilities, laboratories, and databases. Family Tree DNA is one of the leading DNA testing companies in the world, so it’s definitely reassuring to see iGENEA in such good company.
It all starts with you placing an order through their site or by phone or email. The company will immediately send a testing kit to your home address and you’ll be able to collect your DNA sample with the provided buccal swabs. Once you have a sample of your buccal cells, simply mail the kit to the indicated address.
Your initial results should be ready 6-8 weeks after the laboratory receives your sample. Depending on the actual option you’ve chosen, these can be your final results or they can be sent for further analysis. Raw data can be downloaded as well once the results are finalized. iGENEA tests check 500,000 genetic markers and focus on European ancestry and origins.
DDC DNA Diagnostics Center Review
DDC focuses more on immediate family relationships, but also offers ancestry and animal DNA testing solutions. The sheer amount of tests incorporated is truly staggering and they are all performed by world-class experts in the field of genetics. Every test is executed twice, so there’s no room for potential errors or dangers of test failures.
DDC also offers free pre-test consultations to determine the best option for you. This may come in pretty handy if you can’t make up your mind about the optimal course of action. Once the results are completed, they are reviewed by a highly-skilled Ph.D. as the final quality assurance of the product.
They own their own testing laboratory, which incorporates the newest generation of DNA testing technology, including robotics. This makes it the most modern and hi-tech testing facility currently on the market.
The prices vary, depending on the test you opt for, but there are payment plans available for the most expensive variants. You can always contact their support center to find out more about those plans and make an arrangement that will benefit all the parties involved. That kind of financial flexibility is not often seen in the corporate world.
Apart from offering a multitude of tests, DDC also differentiates between legal and non-legal iterations. This means they also provide tests that can be used as proof in court proceedings, immigration disputes, and other matters that need to be handled in front of state-sanctioned institutions. Tests with court-viable results are more expensive, but as we said, payment plans are always available.
MyHeritage is a DNA testing company molded after AncestryDNA. It was founded in 2003 in Bnei Atarot, Israel, by its current CEO Gilad Japhet, an entrepreneur and family historian. The company combines genetics with genealogy, allowing users to gain a thorough understanding of their genetic origins. Besides its main headquarters, the company also owns offices in California and Utah.
MyHeritage Database currently holds more than 2.6 million profiles, approx. 8 billion historical records, and 40 million family trees. The company has serviced more than 91 million users in 196 countries up to this point.
The testing process begins with you creating a personal account on the official MyHeritage website. You’ll be asked to provide your personal information, as well as your preferred payment method. Once the registration is over, MyHeritage will send you a personalized DNA testing kit. The kit uses buccal swabs for sample collection, which is the fastest and easiest way of collecting some of your DNA for further processing. After you’ve swabbed your inner cheeks and the area under the tongue for buccal cells, you can send your specimen back to the lab for sequencing.
The final results should be done 3-4 weeks after the lab receives your DNA sample. At that point, you’ll receive an email notification about your report and will be able to read it on the site.
MyHeritage DNA test costs 99$, but you can also unlock additional tools and benefits if you subscribe to one of MyHeritage plans. They offer Data Subscription, Premium, and PremiumPlus subscriptions.
National Geographic Ancestry Test Review
National Geographic has spent more than a century researching the genealogy of the human species. In 2005, its executives realized genealogy can reach only so far. They also realized the future benefits of complementing genealogy with genetic research. That’s why they established a partnership with Helix DNA testing company and developed National Geographic’s Genographic Project.
The Genographic DNA test allows users to discover fundamental information about their deep ancestry, ranging up to 200,000 years in the past. The project already amassed more than 800,000 users from 140 countries.
The procedure is rather simple, like with any other direct-to-customer DNA test. The only “novelty” is implemented into the registration process. Namely, you have to register on two sites, National Geographic and Helix. When you create your account, you can place an order and just wait for the kit to arrive at your home address. Once you’ve collected your DNA sample, you can return the kit to the lab and you’ll receive your final report 6-12 weeks after the processing facility receives your genetic material.
The price of the test is 149.95$. You should also take the shipping costs into account since they’ll rise exponentially the further you are from the US.
The test checks 200,000 genetic markers, which is on the lower side. The Y-chromosome test checks 10,000 SNPs while the mitochondrial test checks 3,000SNPs. Ordering the test also gives you full access to various Helix apps. The test takes into account 60 reference populations for a precise picture of regional ancestry.
How To Choose The Best Genealogy Test For Your Needs
The first step for a smart investment in DNA testing is defining developing a clear list of priorities your ideal test should satisfy. Once you know exactly what you’re after, choosing the right company for the job is just a matter of having adequate information. Our list of the best genealogy tests will have your back on that front.
As for our selection process, it was a long and comprehensive one. We took into consideration several important criteria that can reveal what you can expect from each of the companies on our list. Our criteria include the scope of the DNA test(s), processing times, privacy and security, value for money, and overall experience. All of these criteria are of vital importance when making your decision because only when they are all met can you rest assured that you will receive the type of service you deserve.
The scope of the DNA test is a key factor because it shows you what the test covers and what the final report will include. When doing a DNA test, you want your results to be ready as soon as possible, which is why processing times are another crucial factor. As you are giving your personal information to the DNA company of your choice, you need to have peace of mind that your data is safe and secure at all times and that no third-party can access them. Value for money and overall experience may be the most significant criteria because you want to receive the best, stress-free service without burning a hole in your pocket, which is precisely what all the genealogy DNA testing providers on our list offer.