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Court Approved DNA Testing

DNA testing is a scientific process which can positively identify relationships between people. Most commonly it is used to establish if a man is the true biological father of a child. DNA paternity testing is also often referred to simply as a DNA test, a paternity test or DNA testing.

Cellmark has been providing a confidential, conclusive, court approved DNA testing service for more than three decades. We are accredited by the Ministry of Justice as a body that may carry out parentage tests as directed by the civil courts in England and Wales under section 20 of the Family Law Reform Act 1969.

Register a case

Relationship DNA testing

Next DNA testing as standard

Next Day DNA testing - as standard

If all your samples reach us by 10am we can get the DNA test report to you by the end of the next working day at no extra cost.

Thanks to the advances in DNA testing technology, Cellmark is able to deliver Next Day results using the most conclusive 24 marker genetic analysis system. Our 'Next Day DNA' service applies to all of the relationship types we test for, including paternity, maternity, sibling, grandparent and avuncular (Aunt/Uncle) tests.

Registering a relationship DNA testing case

You can complete your DNA testing registration using our online registration service or if you'd prefer by calling Cellmark's Customer Services team on 0800 036 2522.

Cellmark will assist with arranging a convenient time for an appointment for the DNA samples to be taken either using our dedicated sampling service, or with your own GP or one from the list we supply. You should allow at least two days for Cellmark to deliver the DNA sampling kit to the chosen doctor.

If you use a GP you will need two passport-sized photographs or photo ID with you to confirm your identity. However, if you elect to use Cellmark's sampling service then no photographs are required as they will be taken digitally. 

Important Considerations

When you choose Cellmark for your DNA testing you can be sure your test will be carried out with the care, accuracy and precision it deserves. Every DNA test is carried out twice using the latest DNA profiling technology to provide certainty, with accurate, high quality and reliable relationship analysis.

 Accredited UK Laboratories

The Ministry of Justice maintains a short list of companies who are accredited to carry out parentage tests. Being accredited by the Ministry of Justice means that Cellmark abides by the standards originally set down by the Dept. of Health's voluntary code of Practice and the subsequent Human Genetics Commission's 'Common Framework of Principles' and the Human Tissue Act.

All reputable DNA testing services should abide by the Codes of Practice set out in these documents. Cellmark is also certified to International Quality Standards ISO 17025 (for laboratory testing services) and ISO 27001 (for the robustness of our information security).

Accredited UK laboratory
Accredited UK laboratory
Accredited UK laboratory

 Independent Sampling

Samplers must not be related to the sample giver, nor have any financial or personal interest in the outcome of the test. This can be either a medically qualified practitioner or an individual trained by the testing organisation.

Cellmark offers a nationwide sampling service and provides all samplers with clear instructions. In addition to providing details of how the sample should be collected, these instructions cover the need to take into account the views of the child where appropriate, the wider welfare concerns of the child, and the need to ensure that proper measures have been taken to obtain legal consent.

DNA sampling mouth swab

 Legal Consent

Under the Human Tissue Act 2004, consent is legally required for a biological sample to be DNA tested to determine paternity or any other relationship. Written, informed consent must be provided for each adult sample and for each sample taken from a child. Failure to ensure this can open yourself up to the offence of "DNA theft" which is punishable by a prison sentence of up to 3 years and/or a fine of £3,000.

Someone with Parental Responsibility for a child must provide written consent. An unmarried father who is not registered on the birth certificate does not have parental responsibility and therefore cannot give consent for the child to be tested. Without the mother's consent to testing he would have to go to court to seek a Parental Responsibility Order to progress the issue further

 Chain of Custody

As a general guide, a court will seek assurances that a paternity test, the findings of which will be used as evidence, has been conducted properly with a clear audit trail.  This is required to show that the correct people provided the samples; that those samples reached the testing laboratory; that the testing laboratory was competent to carry out the tests; and that the results relating to the samples then reached the court.

Samples are sent to Cellmark’s Abingdon UK laboratory in tamper evident bags. On receipt, the bag is examined to ensure that the samples have arrived in tact and the details on both the documents and samples have been completed correctly. Once all the samples that are to be tested have been received and have passed our checks they are passed to the Laboratory for DNA testing.

How does a DNA test work?

A simple mouth swab is used to collect a small DNA sample. The samples are then sent to Cellmark’s DNA laboratory where a small section is taken by a scientist carrying out your DNA test. The DNA is then copied multiple times using a process known as Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).  Multiple copies of your DNA are required for the tests to be successful. The PCR process targets a specific area of DNA known to be highly variable which is used for relationship analysis. Once the PCR process is complete the samples are sent for electrophoresis which separates the DNA based on size to generate your DNA profile.

Each DNA profile is analysed using the latest specialised software. The software will assign the allelic designation of the DNA markers at each test. The DNA profile will consist of a minimum of 22 autosomal DNA tests which are used to determine the paternity or other tested relationships and 2 gender indicative tests. The DNA profiles are assessed for quality by our experienced reporting scientists. If a complete DNA profile is obtained i.e. a result is observed at each test, then the sample has passed. 

DNA profiles from the individuals in the case are compared with each other to identify any matching DNA markers between them. A statistical analysis is carried out to determine the likelihood of a biological relationship such as paternity. The analysis involves determining the number of matching DNA markers and their frequency in the population. The details of the individuals tested and the results of their DNA test are entered onto the final DNA report. This report is again checked by a reporting scientist to ensure that all details are correct before being signed and prepared for despatch.

How are my results reported?

Cellmark can provide the DNA report as either a paper copy which is prepared on embossed paper or an electronic copy which can be sent by e-mail. Your report may contain the following phrases:

Most likely relationship - Data from the 24 individual DNA tests is analysed  and the result is what is determined to be, statistically, the most likely relationship.

Most likely unrelated - The statistical analysis of the DNA test results does not indicate the presence of a biological relationship.

Combined Paternity Index - This is a statistical comparison of how many times more likely it is that the tested individuals are related as claimed against being unrelated. The statistical result is a likelihood ratio calculated from the frequency of the matching DNA markers in the population.

Probability of Paternity - This is calculated from the combined paternity index and is expressed as a percentage.

Prior probability 0.5 - In order to calculate a Probability of Paternity it is necessary to make certain statistical assumptions. A prior probability of 0.5 is the standard approach used in relationship analysis since it assumes that before considering the DNA results, it is equally likely that the man tested is, or is not the father.

What Our Customers Say

 May I say how very pleased and impressed I am with your firm's efficiency and professionalism. I have been using a variety of different firms for DNA and drug and alcohol testing for years as a solicitor for the local authority.  Before I found you, none of the others have the approach with all staff members that I was seeking, or the speed at which you respond to queries, issues etc.. before I came across Cellmark. Thank you.

Simple, Transparent Pricing

Our standard DNA testing charges are £324 +VAT for up to 3 individuals (e.g. Mother, Father and Child) and then £133 +VAT per additional person. To keep things simple our testing prices are the same regardless of the type of relationship being established.

Up to 3 people


£324 +VAT

Each additional person


£133 +VAT

Please note, in addition to the DNA testing cost, you will also need to pay to have the DNA samples taken. Our customer services advisors can provide full details on how the sampling process works.

Independent advice and guidance

The decision to have a DNA test is one faced by thousands of people every year, often in complicated emotional circumstances. Cellmark is committed to ensuring that all parties have access to independent advice and guidance and the following links may help you in making your decision to proceed (or not to proceed) with DNA testing.

England and Wales

Get a DNA test
CAFCASS 0300 456 4000
Child Maintenance 0800 988 0988
Citizens Advice 03444 111 444
Families Need Fathers 0300 0300 363
Gingerbread 0808 802 0925
Relate 0300 100 1234


Citizens Information 0761 07 400
Child and Family Agency 01 7718500
One Family 1 662 9212
Treior 1890 252 084

Please consider that choosing to have a 'peace of mind' or 'curiosity' DNA test may not be the cheapest option - if you subsequently end up having to go to court to resolve the issue you will need to undergo another test - this time a court approved test - so careful consideration of your options is sensible. We recommend that you talk to a third party such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, your GP or a family friend.