How to submit your DNA to FamilyTreeDNA
Last updated: 21 November 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.
These codes are suspended during seasonal sales, when even lower prices
are often available without any code.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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 padded return envelope, normally pre-addressed;
- a postage
stamp (the postage from Ireland increased to EUR2.50 on 13 April 2017
and increased again to EUR2.80 on 4 April 2018);
- 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
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:
You must order whichever type of analysis you wish to order
by selecting the relevant SHOP 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
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:
- You must fill in your contact details here.
- You will be prompted to enter your Kit Number and Password
when you follow the above link.
- The first time you sign in, you may be asked to confirm your
- name: 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
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
surname of your husband (or stepfather, adoptive father, etc.) in their
family tree, but married women using their maiden surname should not use the "Mrs." title!
- e-mail address (twice): you may copy and paste your
e-mail address into the first box, but any attempt to copy
and paste it into the second box generates the message "Please manually
re-enter your e-mail address"; 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; and
- When you click Confirm and Proceed, you will be asked to
agree to the FamilyTreeDNA Terms
of Service and Privacy
Statement and other terms and conditions.
- You may have to click here
again to fill in your other contact details. If you don't have the
required Zip code, you can just enter 00000. Remember to include the
country code (e.g. +353 for
Ireland) in your phone number.
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
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 used to be essential to complete it as it was the only
place that the test subject's gender was requested. Kits can be switched
between males and females up to the point of online confirmation of gender or up to the point of submission by mail 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
- 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
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
- 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), although there are frequent sales for special occasions.
- 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
- 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 valid
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.
- Your date of birth is requested in the ambiguous all-numeric
mm-dd-yyyy format, not in either the dd-mm-yyyy format which most
readers of this page will be familiar with, or in the unambiguous formats which genealogists quickly learn to use.
- The "Country of Origin" question on older versions of this form 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 (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 19 to 75 days after you mail your kit from Ireland. Results
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-500
results can take several months to appear.
Make sure to upload a GEDCOM file from your favourite genealogy
software showing your direct ancestors here and to fill out the rest of
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
find you and to find your and their long-forgotten ancestors.
advice on the next step of the journey, please read this