• "The laboratory you select must be accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks(AABB)... Under no circumstances should a third party be involved in the process of selecting a lab, scheduling the appointment, or any other process outlined in the next steps."

    U.S. Department of State
  • "Please be aware that many non-accredited businesses advertise on the Internet as being AABB-accredited. It is important to note that these "resellers" - who are not AABB-accredited - will claim to use an accredited lab for their testing. For the purpose of this request, samples collected from and comparative tests arranged through "resellers" will not be accepted. "

    USCIS - California Service Center
  • "The test must be performed directly through an AABB-accredited facility. Please visit the AABB website (ww.aabb.org) to find an accredited lab, which will also coordinate the testing of the claimed relative - if they reside overseas. Please be aware that many non-accredited businesses advertise on the Internet as being AABB-accredited. "

    USCIS - California Service Center
Home - DNA Testing Industry - Chain-of-Custody DNA Test vs. In-Home DNA Test
Chain-of-Custody DNA Test vs. In-Home DNA Test

There are two types of DNA testing approaches meant for completely different purposes. The chain-of-custody or legal DNA testing procedures produce legally admissible results to establish biological relationships while the in-home or self-collected procedures are generally for “curiosity” purposes and are NOT legally admissible.

The key difference of these two testing approaches lies in the compliance with chain-of-custody requirements throughout the testing process. Chain-of-custody refers to the chronological documentation that shows the seizure, custody, control, transfer, analysis, and disposal of evidence. The whole purpose of this procedure is to prevent tampering and to establish the legal admissibility of the evidence in question.

In a chain-of-custody DNA test, the requirements include:

  1. Identification of the tested parties at time of collection, which includes verifying IDs and taking pictures of all participants in the test;
  2. Obtaining consent from all adult tested parties and from parents or legal guardians for all minor tested parties;
  3. Collection of specimens from the tested parties performed by a trained third-party professional who will document his involvement truthfully;
  4. Proper labeling and packaging of specimens by the collector;
  5. Shipping specimens by courier services directly to the laboratory;
  6. Receiving of specimens by the DNA laboratory and proper login of specimens;
  7. Transfer and testing of specimens within the DNA laboratory;
  8. Truthful documentation of every step in the testing process by the staff handling and testing the specimens;
  9. Storage of specimens;
  10. Reporting of results with case specific chain-of-custody documents.

In an in-home DNA test however, there will be no properly-validated identification of the tested parties or known origins of the specimens received by the testing laboratory. The specimens are typically collected by the clients themselves using a buccal swab kit sent by the testing laboratory or simply unusual items that may contain the tested parties’ biological materials such as tooth brush, hair, or other personal items. There is also no consent signed by any adult or minor participant. In some cases, the tested parties’ specimens are sent to the laboratory without their knowledge.

Since there is no proper documentation in the beginning for client identification, consent, or specimen collection, the DNA results produced cannot legally establish a firm relationship between two known persons. Additionally, the accuracy of the test can be greatly compromised due to possible contamination of the self-collected specimens or personal items used as testing specimens.

In the U. S., only chain-of-custody DNA testing results are accepted as legal evidence in court or for immigration purposes. AABB, as the regulating and accreditation organization, does not recognize in-home testing. It is worth mentioning that although some AABB-accredited laboratories are also involved in providing in-home testing services, it is not endorsed by AABB.