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How Long Does a DNA Test Take?

how long does a DNA test take

DNA is in every cell of our body, but we take for granted how much information it contains. Scientists estimate that we could store all of humanity’s data in a ping-pong ball-sized container of DNA.

Fortunately, scientists have figured out how to decode long reams of DNA in a fast and affordable fashion. You can get a DNA test today and have it on your doorstep in a few days or less, like any other package. That said, how long does a DNA test take on average?

Join us as we discuss how long you can expect to wait for DNA testing companies to return your results.

How Long Does a DNA Test Take?

The DNA testing process is not the same across the board. Multiple different types of DNA tests achieve different results. Some exist only for your curiosity, peace of mind, or to make informed decisions. Others must be bulletproof enough to provide evidence in a court of law.

Let’s take a look at the key factors that come into play when determining how long a test will take.

Types of DNA Tests

DNA appears in every cell of your body, but a forensic laboratory will hone in on specific types for specific tests. There are three main types of DNA that experts work with:

  • Y-chromosome DNA
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Single nucleotide polymorphism DNA

Y-chromosome (Y-DNA) is the type of DNA you examine when you want to determine someone’s paternal lineage. This type of DNA is helpful for finding out simple characteristics such as ethnicity.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) deals with questions of maternity. SNP DNA answers questions about overall genetics. 

Types of Analysis

A paternity DNA test is fairly simple since the company is comparing your DNA to your supposed father’s. Other types of DNA tests require deeper analysis and examination. Even if DNA tests work by the same principles, the desired results change the procedure.

Take, for example, a broad ancestry DNA test. This is a DNA test that helps to determine your country of origin, propensity towards certain behaviors, susceptibility to diseases, and so on.

This sort of ancestral analysis can take a great deal of time and computer processing to get the results. It involves comparing your DNA with a massive database of other customers. Therefore, the result will take much longer.

Official Requirements

Generally speaking, a test will take longer if it must be official or verifiable by authorities. Lab technicians must do deeper analysis and go through extra hoops to ensure accuracy and reliability. Getting a legally recognizable paternity or maternity test will take longer by default.

This doesn’t mean that other tests are inherently less accurate or less reliable. You can still get a high-quality DNA test in record time. It just means that authorities won’t accept it as conclusive.

Priority Testing

Many DNA testing services offer different pricing tiers to give you more options. A more affordable DNA test will have a lower priority and thus take longer. A more expensive, high-priority test will be first in line and returned to you ASAP.

Sample Shipping

Many people prefer the convenience of an at-home DNA test. You can take a sample by yourself and then mail it to the laboratory. Naturally, the time it takes the logistics service to deliver the sample will determine how quickly they can conduct it.

Hiccups in logistics can delay results. In some rare situations, long delays can spoil the samples and require you to resubmit them. Shipping can also delay the results on the way back to you, i.e., the results document gets delayed.

Bad Samples

DNA tests are very simple to take. In most cases, you will swap the inside of your cheek with a clean Q-tip and enclose it in a test tube.

Some people may fail to do the step correctly, leading to contamination of the sample. Contaminated samples may make it difficult or impossible to get an accurate result. You may have to resubmit a sample and try again.

As far as legal testing is concerned, accurate information is critical. In particular, you must submit verifiable samples in person at a laboratory. There needs to be a witness who sees you taking the test to confirm its results – increasing the wait for results.

Incorrect Information

Incorrect information, such as the wrong shipping address, can cause delays. A sample sent to the wrong location or an incorrect return address may cause delays. If something goes very wrong and the sample is lost, then you may have to send a new sample.

Regular DNA Test Results Timeline

Suppose you just want a DNA test for peace of mind. How fast can you get the results? 

Suppose, for example, you want a paternity test that you perform at home. If you submit it by 2 PM during business days, you could get the results by the end of that day

Legally Recognizable DNA Test Results Timeline

Now imagine you want the same DNA test, but one that courts will legally recognize. What is the average timeline for said results?

Expect to wait a little bit longer, even with priority testing. You should receive the results within 2 to 5 days, complications aside.

How to Get DNA Testing Fast

Looking to secure your results as fast as is reasonably possible? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Double and triple-check all information before submitting
  • Follow sample collection instructions to the letter
  • Send the sample at your earliest convenience
  • Contact the lab for status updates
  • Submit or get results in person

In essence, being prompt and accurate is the key to getting the fastest results possible. Many people delay or make mistakes, which almost always delays results.

Get Tested with ReliaLabTest

How long does a DNA test take? It depends on whether or not the test is for a piece of mind or for legal purposes. Other factors, such as the type of test, result, and shipping complications, will determine how long it takes to get your results.

ReliaLabTest is a federally certified testing laboratory with 10,000 collection sites across the continental US. We provide a wide variety of drug and DNA testing. Order your test online today.

Order a Test

Whether you are an individual looking to get a drug test done today or an employer looking to get a pre-employment drug test done today, ordering a test online is easier than ever! Just submit your order online, receive your test authorization by email, go to your local clinic to be tested, and receive your test results in 24 to 48 hours.

Hours of Operation

Monday 8AM–12PM, 1–4:30PM
Tuesday 8AM–12PM, 1–4:30PM
Wednesday 8AM–12PM, 1–4:30PM
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Closed Dec. 25, Dec. 26 and Jan. 1

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our lab.