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Living DNA Review

UPDATED Aug. 2019
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The company’s maxim “Find out where you really come from” best portrays the scope of the ancestry test provided by Living DNA. Our Living DNA review will answer the most relevant of questions you may have concerning this test.

The company originated in 2016, out of DNA Worldwide Group’s need for a more precise focus on genetic ancestry testing. The said parent company was founded in 2004 and has since developed many a genetic test. It has collaborated with Scotland’s DNA, Family Tree DNA, and people behind The British Isle Study of 2015. It is partnered with 100+ world-leading genetics experts, scientists, and academic researchers. The fresh platform was designed to cultivate the most detailed and accurate projection of your family tree, reaching back to time immemorial.

The company’s key personnel are David Nicholson (managing director) and Hannah Morden (marketing director). In their own words, the goal of Living DNA is showing the humanity that we’re all made up of all of us. Continue reading this Living DNA review for more information.

homepages Living DNA


How Living DNA Works

With Living DNA, ordering and performing your DNA test including the following steps:

  • Online order, through the option offered on the website. The test kit is then sent straight to the provided address.
  • Kit activation, which is also done online for the purpose of correlating your sample with the results.
  • Sample collection, with the provided easy-to-operate mouth swab.
  • Posting the kit back, using the provided free returns bag.
  • Viewing your results online within 10 to 12 weeks.

There is not much to say about the kit itself. There are two mouth-swab collectors packed in a cardboard box, alongside an instructional brochure. The decision to go with mouth swabs instead of saliva containers definitely makes the shipping process safer for the samples.

how it work Living DNA

Why Choose Living DNA

Living DNA is definitely an impressive ancestry testing service. It’s the only company that can uncover your potential British or Irish descent up to 80,000 years in the past and let you explore your ancestry on a regional level.  The benefits of using the Living DNA service are indeed numerous, so let’s go over some of the pivotal ones:

  • Cutting-edge software innovations and DNA chip technology
  • Collaboration with top scientists and researchers
  • The most region-specific results regarding your ancestry and DNA roots. Living DNA covers 80 different regions around the world
  • The British Isles are represented via 21 regions, which gives the most in-depth regional DNA breakdown for people originating from those areas
  • Raw data results provided, which you can use on genealogy research sites for extra info
  • Free shipping
  • Excellent privacy policy and security of your personal information and test results
  • Free test updates

Here are some of the company’s most noticeable downsides:

  • The results do not mention the genetic potential for certain illnesses and other health-related repercussions
  • Access to its database is not allowed, so there is no option of browsing through other members and finding potential relatives


There is only one test available. It follows an all-in-one principle and is simply called “Ancestry Chip Test.” Rather than looking at it as a solitary test, though, you can perceive it as three separate tests wrapped in one.

It is based on a customized version of the Illumina Chip Tech, the GSA (Global Screen Array). The high precision comes from representing each of the 650,000 encoded markers at least 15 times.

The test researches all of the 22 autosomal chromosomes but also inspects 4,000 areas in your mitochondrial DNA and 21,000 areas of your Y chromosome. Autosomal chromosomes are the richest repositories of information concerning your heritage, but the so-called “sex chromosomes” (X and Y) allow you to explore your direct father and motherlines.

The purpose of the test can ultimately be reduced to determining the DNA polymorphisms as a bundle of preselected locations in your genome. Said locations dictate all of your characteristics and reveal your ancestry. These “locations” are the aforementioned encoded markers (650,000 of them).

Understanding The Results

The software and various systems used to interpret and analyze DNA samples have been designed in association with leading academics from Oxford and Bristol University. Over 25 experts were included in the projects as well.

The test results include:

  • Motherline ancestry – You will see your assignment in the maternal haplogroup, representing the location of your branch on the human family tree. Everyone with your haplogroup will be connected to an ancient ancestor who lived tens of thousands of years in the past. The percentages will also show the highest point of geographical impact for your haplogroup.
  • Fatherline ancestry – This section of the results is exclusively available to males. Females lack the Y chromosome, which needs to be explored for information on fatherline genealogy. The results follow the same blueprint as the previous category in order to determine the father’s side of your human family tree branch.
  • Family ancestry – This part will give you data on the highest similarity between world populations and your autosomal DNA. Given that your DNA is checked against 80 different world regions, the results should be pretty accurate and on-point.
  • Back in time map – This map can allow you to visualize your test results.
ancestry Motherline

The DNA testing arena is filled with odd and scientific terms, which might prove too difficult to understand. That’s why we’ll explain the science behind the test results.

Here are the mother/fatherline ancestry results explained:

  • Haplogroups and subcladesThe numbers and letters found here are just the names of genetic signatures. They’re represented via numbers and letters because marker—identification would be too drawn-out. These markers make your “personal signature,” otherwise known as a subclade. A group of related subclades makes a haplogroup.
  • Coverage map – It shows where in the whole world your haplogroup has the highest relevance.
  • History – It provides historic and genetic information on your haplogroup.
  • Migration map – It shows the potential migration route your motherline lineage took from Africa onwards.
  • Phylogenetic tree – It positions your subclade on the family tree for the whole of humanity.
results Autosomal

We’ll also further explain the “female conundrum” regarding paternal ancestry. Autosomal results are filed under family ancestry since autosomal genes are inherited both from the father and the mother. Mitochondrial results, however, are what determines our motherlines. Mitochondrial DNA is passed down from mothers to both male and female children unchanged. This is a closer explanation of what makes your haplogroup. The ability to follow one’s ancestry millennia in reverse is owed to the unchanging nature of the mother’s mitochondrial DNA.

Alas, the Y chromosome is needed in order to generate fatherline results. If a female wants information on the said lineage, her father, brother, paternal grandfather or uncle will have to be tested to acquire that data. Once finished, you can see your results in the secure section of the customer platform. The system is very user-friendly and features helpful images and explanations. The optional printed version can also be obtained with a surcharge. The extra fee is region-dependent, but it’s usually around 70$.


Living DNA offers you the possibility to take part in DNA research, ultimately aimed at uncovering connections between all the humans in the world. As Living DNA doesn’t currently perform DNA health tests, the research cannot be aimed at improving science on illness-bearing genes.

Participating in research projects is done exclusively with the customer’s consent, so your data will not be used for anything you haven’t explicitly allowed. Once given, your consent can also be withdrawn at any time, without any additional explanation.

Privacy And Security

Persons under 18 can only be tested with the explicit consent of their parent or legal custodian. Furthermore, the order must come from the parent’s/custodian’s e-mail address. Living DNA features an ISO:27001 certification, which means your data will be well-protected and secure at all times. All the information is kept between you and the person responsible for processing your test. The sample is processed without identity, which means the only things team members can see are your sample and the relevant ID number.

The samples are processed and raw data generated in the Eurofins laboratory in Denmark and analyzed in the UK headquarters of Living DNA. Outside of Living DNA, only you can inspect your final results.

Shipping And Handling

The easiest and fastest ordering option is through the company’s website. You can order it for yourself or as a gift.The company headquarters are situated in the UK and its facilities are in the US. With such a geographic layout, Living DNA can provide its tests to customers all around the world. If you’re not from the US/UK or EU, check the customs policies relevant for your country.

Standard, untracked delivery takes approximately:

  • 5-10 business days for the UK/US
  • 10-15 business days for the EU
  • 14-20 business days for the rest of the world

Premium delivery takes around:

  • 2-3 business days for the UK/US
  • 5-10 business days anywhere else

Once the order is dispatched, you will receive a notification via e-mail. This message will feature your kit ID, which will be the identification number for the results. The kit will also include a prepaid return mailer. Return postage is done through second class and is untracked. You can pay for the tracking option, if you so choose, however. The company has a “December disclaimer,” which pleads for understanding in case of delays during the holiday season.

Bottom Line

Living DNA is made by an industry’s giant and backed up by proficient personnel and cutting-edge technology. Its aim is two-fold; providing consumers with high-quality DNA testing service and showing us that there was a time when our collective DNA was united. We hope our Living DNA review helped draw those concepts a bit closer to you.

The managing director David Nicholson states that Living DNA feels like watching the history of your family on a High Def TV. We’ll have to agree, as the results offered are precise and staggeringly detailed. Most importantly, they cover tens of millennia behind us, providing a clear picture of how your specific family tree developed.

Time will tell where Living DNA will go from here, but with all the innovations and different testing options it will surely implement in the years to come, it is probably here to stay.

* All the prices on this website are subject to change without notice. While we put a great deal of effort into making sure that all the prices are accurate, one or more products may have outdated prices. Please visit the specific product’s official website for exact prices.
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