- CONSENTAll parties must consent to DNA testing
- SELECTING A TESTERChoose a service that works for you
- YOUR QUESTIONSFrequently asked questions
- WHERE TO GET ADVICE Sources of free & independent advice & guidance
- HOW WE TAKE A SAMPLEA simple guide showing how we collect a DNA sample
- DNA TESTING FACTSSome interesting facts about DNA testing
- TEST RESULTSUnderstanding your test report
- WHY CELLMARKReasons to choose Cellmark
- CAN I GET LEGAL AIDNew Legal aid guidelines issued
Here is the list of the most frequently asked questions on DNA testing
The decision to have a paternity test should not be taken lightly and you may have lots of questions. We urge you to consider all of the people involved and to decide whether this is the best course of action, particularly for any children in question. The following are the most frequent questions we get asked.
DNA paternity testing
is a complex scientific process, carried out on a simple mouth swab,
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. It was developed by Sir Alec Jeffreys at the University of Leicester in 1985. Cellmark became the UK's first private DNA paternity testing laboratory in 1987.
DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) is the body's genetic 'blueprint'. It is a long thread-like molecule which carries the "genetic code" that determines our individual characteristics. DNA is found in almost all of the billions of cells that make up our body. Every child inherits a unique mixture of DNA from its parents so, except for identical twins, no two people in the world have exactly the same genetic code.
It works by detecting certain parts, or 'markers' in the
DNA molecule that are known to vary greatly between unrelated people.
Our tests compare the DNA at a number of these markers to determine if people are related.
The process is called Short Tandem Repeat (STR) profiling. STR profiling is a very sensitive DNA testing procedure that was originally developed for forensic analysis. DNA is extracted from the sample and a special enzyme is used to copy the genetic code at the relevant regions in the DNA. An STR profile is the result of several separate DNA tests.
standard reports within 3-5 working days from when we receive the
samples in our laboratory. If you are happy that it is in everyone's
best interest you can start the process now.
Completing our online registration form will only take a few minutes, however you will need to see a Doctor or Nurse to have your DNA sample taken. Once we've received your sample it only takes a few days to get the results to you by first class post.
When a mother, child and possible father are tested
Cellmark's results will either show he is not the father or normally provide
proof of paternity with a confidence level of 99.99% and usually greater than
We also carry out other types of relationship testing, for further details please contact our Customer Service team on 08000 362522.
Yes, under the requirements of UK Data Protection laws, the service and results are confidential. Everyone who gives a sample or has PR for the child on the case is entitled to request a copy of the results. Results are not passed on to any third parties unless you request us to do so. In order to further protect confidentiality we do not discuss results of tests over the telephone.
You will need to
make an appointment have your samples taken by a Doctor or a Nurse.
At that appointment a mouth swab will be rubbed gently and painlessly
on the inside of your mouth to collect a sample of cheek cells.
You will also need to complete a consent form at the surgery (please remember to take 2 passport style photographs of each person being tested to the appointment) and these and the sample will then sent to Cellmark by the surgery.
When carrying out
a paternity test the DNA of the mother, the child and the possible
father are compared using the latest DNA analysis technology. A
child inherits half of his or her DNA from each parent, so every
genetic marker in the child’s pattern should be present in
either the mother’s or father’s DNA.
In this example the test has identified 2 markers in the child’s DNA. One of the child's markers has been inherited from its mother; the other has been inherited from its father.
In this example the alleged father does not share any markers with the child and is therefore excluded from paternity (i.e. cannot be the father).
Two passport sized
photographs and the signatures of each person being tested must
be presented at the sampling appointment. These can be used to
confirm the identity of the person(s) being tested and are sent
with the samples to Cellmark.
In paternity cases all identification paperwork is held by Cellmark for a period of 1 year after which time the paperwork is destroyed in compliance with our registration with the Data Protection Act.
The use of mouth swabs means that testing can be performed on a child of any age after birth. Some companies may offer pre-natal DNA testing but Cellmark agrees with the Human Genetics commission's view that knowing the identity of the genetic father of the foetus could significantly influence the decision whether or not to proceed with a pregnancy and therefore Cellmark does not offer pre-natal DNA testing.
Our quality management
system has met ISO standards since 1990 and our laboratory procedures
are accredited to ISO9001:2000 and ISO17025 and are subject to external
monitoring. We are accredited by the Ministry of Justice as a body that may carry out parentage tests (otherwise called DNA Testing or Paternity Testing) as directed by the civil courts in England and Wales under section 20 of the Family Law Reform Act 1969 and we also adhere to the Human Genetics Commissions "Common Framework of Principles on DNA testing".
In certain circumstances it may be possible to assess more complex relationships such as brothers and sisters or grandparents and grandchildren. For more information please contact our Customer Service team on 0800 043 4247.
You can pay for
your paternity test with a credit or debit card via our online registration
service. The service uses secure server technology to ensure that
your data and all records of the transaction are protected.
If you would prefer not to pay online please contact our Customer Services advisors on 08000 362522 to register and pay for your test.
The samples are
sent to our laboratories in specially designed tamper-evident packaging.
Once testing is complete and you have received the results, your
DNA sample is stored securely for 3 months after which time it is
In paternity cases all identification paperwork is held by Cellmark for a period of 1 year after testing is complete after which time it is destroyed in compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998.
We do not give out or discuss results over the telephone, however we are pleased to answer written enquiries about your specific results and to talk through general issues relating to DNA paternity testing. Call our Customer Services team on 0800 036 2522.
If you require further information, or your question isn't listed here, then please call one of our friendly, professional and confidential Customer Service advisors on 0800 043 4247, or send your question via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or use our discrete SMS service.
The Legal Aid Agency has produced a range of information to assist solicitors and individuals in establishing whether their case is eligible for Legal Aid funding and this can be accessed via the following web page - http://legal-aid-checker.justice.gov.uk/ we recommend you use this as a starting point before embarking on the complex process of applying for legal aid.
You can also pay for advice from a local legal advisor or solicitor – a number of firms are responding to the changes by offering fixed price services.