How to submit your DNA to FamilyTreeDNA
Last updated: 11 April 2018
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:
Project representatives may be able to provide you with a coupon code
entitling you to a discount from the standard prices for some products.
- order the kit from the website and pay for
shipping (currently USD12.95 as of 30 March 2018); or
- obtain the kit directly from a representative of a project
such as DNA Outreach IRL and avoid the shipping costs.
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. 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.
- two cheek swabs (there is a best before date on the cheek
swabs, but using them after the best before date does not appear to
prevent successful processing of the DNA sample);
- two labelled vials containing a preservative solution (take care not to spill the solution);
- a labelled white
order form; and
- a labelled green release form.
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.
- a password to allow you to log in to the FTDNA website;
- a coupon code
entitling you to a discount from the standard prices for some products;
- a pre-addressed padded return envelope;
- a postage stamp (the postage from Ireland increased to EUR2.50 on 13 April 2017);
- a form or card or package to retain confirming your kit
- this Welcome
to FTDNA letter; and/or
- this Before
You Swab guide.
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
may make transcription errors, as they are not familiar with Irish
handwriting style or Irish personal
names or place names or ISP names like eircom.net. Furthermore, they
will probably change the kit password when entering your details for
you. 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:
Bear these points in mind when completing the white order form:
- You must fill in your contact details here. In particular:
- if your kit is registered to the e-mail address of the DNA Outreach IRL
representative who handed it to you, then you must immediately change
that to your own e-mail address;
- if you are a married woman (or for any other reason use a
surname other than one of those from which you could have inherited DNA),
then you may want to use your maiden surname (a) to attract the
attention of potentially related DNA matches with your surname in their family tree and (b)
to avoid attracting the attention of probably unrelated DNA matches who have the
surname of your husband (or stepfather, adoptive father, etc.) in their family tree.
- include the country code (e.g. +353 for
Ireland) in your phone number.
- You must order whichever type of analysis you wish to order by selecting the relevant ORDER NOW button here.
If you have a 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 coupon codes for both Y-DNA37 and Family Finder and want to
get the full discounts, then you must order Y-DNA37 first and then
order Family Finder second, as a separate transaction.
- You should also join relevant surname and geographical projects here. The administrators
of any project that you join 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 usually returns an error
message if you have recently changed the contact details for the 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 green consent form:
- All details should be entered on the form exactly as they were entered on the website and vice versa. If
you are helping someone who is not computer literate, then you can ask
him or her to fill in the contact details on the first part of the form
and transcribe them to the website yourself.
- Although the form says that it can be disregarded
if you order online, it is essential to complete it as it is the only
place that the test subject's gender is requested. Kits can be switched
between males and females up to the point of submission or up to the
point at which a Y-DNA product is ordered, whichever happens first. It
will of course be clear on examination of the DNA whether it contains
two X chromosomes (female) or one X and one Y (male), but it makes life
a lot simpler if the gender is specified correctly at the time of
- Keep a scan or photocopy or
photograph of the form for your records
and forward it to the project representative if there are any problems.
I do not want the responsibility of storing your credit card details,
so please pay online. If you are including card details on the form,
then please either make the copy before you add them or crop them from
the image or conceal them before making the copy.
- Some kits were shipped without individually labelled order
forms: make sure that your correct kit identifier appears at the top of the
- Split your snail-mail address across the six lines
provided; it will only be required if for some reason DNA cannot be
extracted from your kit now or in the future and a replacement kit has to be shipped to you.
- The most crucial item on the form is your e-mail address,
as this is how all communications take place. Write it clearly above
the fold on the page so that it does not become creased and illegible
in transit. If you do not receive any e-mail message from FamilyTreeDNA within
a month or so, then your e-mail address will probably have been
misread. If you have not yet received a password and want to check whether your e-mail address has been correctly
associated with your kit number, then you can use the password reset page. If this page
still returns an error message several weeks after mailing your kit,
then ask the project representative who gave you your kit to investigate.
- Most people will begin by ordering Test Type: Family Finder
and the Payment Total in that case is normally USD79 (as of 30 March 2018).
- If you do have a password for your kit and have paid online, then just tick the relevant box (the last one on the form).
- If you do not have a password for your kit, then you can include payment details on the form.
- While the form says "Credit Card", Debit Cards are also
- Indicate whether you are using MC, Visa or AMEX.
- The long blank after this is for your 16-digit card number,
which must be included if you are paying by card and have not paid online.
- You may not be notified if there is any transcription error
which causes your credit card transaction to fail, so make sure to
check that your kit is being processed by using the password reset page to obtain a password if necessary, logging in and checking the order history page and the status of pending tests page,
which gives a two-week period within which your results are expected
(with the dates in one of the ambiguous all-numeric formats which
beginning genealogists quickly learn to avoid!). You can also check
with your bank that your card has been billed.
- If you do not have a password for your kit and want it added to any FTDNA projects, such as
the Clare Roots project or
relevant surname project, then please write a message to this effect in
blank space at the end of the form.
- If you do not have a password for your kit but have a coupon code, then please also write the details of
this in the blank space at the end of the form.
Before swabbing, you should also watch Brad Larkin's YouTube video (duration 4:10).
- You will not be able to make contact with your long lost
relatives (or vice versa) unless you sign this form.
- The "Country of Origin" question relates to where your
Y-DNA comes from (or would come from if you were male) and where your
mitochondrial DNA comes from. In other words, what country does your
most distant known patrilineal ancestor come from (your father's
father's father's father ...)? And what country does your most distant
known matrilineal ancestor come from (your mother's mother's mother's
mother ...)? For most people reading this page, the answer to both questions will probably be Ireland.
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 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 30 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.
Make sure to upload a GEDCOM file from your favourite genealogy
software showing your direct ancestors here and 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 the
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.