How to submit your DNA to FamilyTreeDNA

Last updated: 19 June 2020

This page is designed to answer the frequently asked questions encountered when collecting DNA samples.

There are two ways to obtain a DNA kit from FamilyTreeDNA:

  1. order the kit from the website and pay for shipping (currently USD12.95 as of 30 March 2018); or
  2. obtain the kit directly from a representative of a project such as DNA Outreach IRL and avoid the shipping costs.
Project representatives may be able to provide you with a coupon code entitling you to a discount from the standard prices for some products. These codes are suspended during seasonal sales, when even lower prices are often available without any code.

You can pay by credit (or debit) card.

You should not eat, drink, smoke, chew gum or brush your teeth for one hour before swabbing. If you have to wait until an hour has elapsed, you can use some of that time to complete the necessary documentation, so read on.

Your next decision will be whether to order Family Finder (analysis of your autosomal DNA, which on average comes equally from all of your ancestors in each generation) and/or a Y-DNA product (analysis of the DNA which comes from your patrilineal - father's father's father's ... line - if you are male) and/or a mitochondrial DNA product (analysis of the DNA which comes from your matrilineal - mother's mother's mother's ... - line). Most people will begin by ordering Family Finder.

All kits should contain:
The same unique identifier of your kit (e.g. mi15458) should appear with the bar code on all the labels. Note that some kit identifiers begin with two letters including a capital (upper case) letter I, which is hard to distinguish from the digit 1 (one). The kit identifiers are not case sensitive, although the corresponding passwords are. To avoid confusion, I write the letters in the kit identifier in lower case.

Please note this identifier carefully as without it (and the e-mail address which you choose to use for your interaction with FamilyTreeDNA) you will have no access to your results. If you have more than one kit, please take care not to switch the labelled items between kits.

You may also receive or need:
At some events, kits will be returned in bulk by the organisers so there is no need for the pre-addressed padded return envelope.

As well as submitting your DNA, you must submit some personal details online (assuming that you have received a password) and/or on paper. If you do not submit your details online and even if you write as clearly as you can in block capitals throughout, then the FTDNA staff in Texas trying to decipher your scrawl may make transcription errors, as they are not familiar with Irish handwriting style or Irish personal names or place names or ISP names like Please spare everyone unnecessary delays and confusion by entering your own details online before mailing your kit.

Bear these points in mind when completing the online documentation:
  • You must order whichever type of analysis you wish to order by selecting the relevant SHOP NOW or ORDER NOW button here. If you have a valid coupon code, then you must "Enter coupon code" in the relevant box. Click the "Apply" button and wait a few moments for the price to be adjusted. Then click the "Proceed to checkout>" button. As well as entering any discount code, make sure to delete from the order form any products that you do not wish to order. If you have separate coupon codes for both Y-DNA37 and Family Finder and want to get the full discounts, then you should order Y-DNA37 first and then order Family Finder second, as a separate transaction.
  • You should also join relevant surname and geographical projects here. If you give the administrators of any project that you join sufficient access to your kit, then they will be able to investigate everything from misread e-mails or credit card details to delayed results, as well as advising on the interpretation of results. If you have ancestry from County Clare, please join the Clare Roots project. You can find it on the Projects - Join page by searching for a Clare-specific surname such as Marrinan, or wait a day or so and click the JOIN button on the project page. For some unknown reason, the latter method can return an error message if you have recently changed the contact details for an older kit and you may have to wait a day or so after registering your e-mail address before you can join projects this way.
  • Bear these points in mind when completing the white order form:
    Bear these points in mind when completing the green consent form:
    Before swabbing, you might also like to watch Brad Larkin's YouTube video (duration 4:10), although the swabs shown in this video are slightly different from those currently in use.

    You may be asked to complete a green customs declaration if you hand your package over a post office counter. You should declare the contents as "genealogy kit" and avoid any mention of DNA or the preservative liquid on the form. If you put the package in a postbox with the correct postage, then there should be no problems.

    If a product has already been ordered but not paid for (usually due to an error in transcribing card details), then you must use the Unpaid Product link in the left-hand column on the dashboard page to make payment before processing can begin.

    Depending on how busy the lab is when your kit arrives (e.g. whether there is a sale on), your Family Finder results may arrive any time from 15 to 75 days after you mail your kit from Ireland. Results have been known to arrive even quicker when shipped in bulk after an event. Y-DNA results generally take a bit longer to appear, and Big Y-700 results can take several months to appear.

    Make sure to upload a GEDCOM file from your favourite genealogy software showing your direct ancestors here (selecting Tree Mgmt and GEDCOM UPLOAD if necessary). Also make sure to fill out the rest of your profile on the FamilyTreeDNA website here (especially your most distant known patrilineal and matrilineal ancestors here) before your results arrive.

    Submitting your DNA sample to FTDNA is just the start of an exciting journey.  Please use your DNA to help your long-lost cousins to find you and to find your and their long-forgotten ancestors.  For advice on the next step of the journey, please read this page.