HomeDNA Testing Kit Review

HomeDNA is primarily known for at-home DNA paternity tests sold at major pharmacy chains, formerly under the name Identigene. Testing is done at the accredited laboratory of DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC) and their paternity tests are good tests for that purpose. 

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    Note that the store price for a paternity test only covers the test kit. An additional $139 lab fee will be required when registering.

    Several other DNA test types are offered directly online under the HomeDNA brand and those will be covered here. For those tests the price you pay covers everything but shipping costs.

    We'll discuss the pros and cons, sample collection, and turnaround time. We'll talk about what comes included with the tests and share our overall opinions.

    Home DNA Packages Start From

    PackagePricing
    Starter Pack
    $69
    Maternal Lineage
    $69
    Advanced
    $124
    GPS Origins Ancestry Test
    $199
    GPS Origins Asian Edition
    $199
    GPS Origins African Edition
    $199

    Pros and Cons

    Pros

    • Much easier sampling method than some competitors
    • Faster results - in as little as four weeks after samples arrive at the lab
    • Can upload raw DNA data from certain other tests for a lower cost (GPS Origins only)

    Cons

    • Ancestry tests are autosomal DNA tests only, not mtDNA or Y-DNA
    • Checks fewer DNA locations than several other tests reviewed here
    • Results not compared with other users, so no genetic matches provided

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    Collecting your DNA Sample

    The HomeDNA test is easier to use than many of its competitors. Many tests collect DNA from saliva, which involves filling the sample tube with spit, and it's not as easy as it sounds.

    Elderly family members may find this collection method too hard, and it's virtually impossible with babies or infants.

    HomeDNA uses two simple cheek swabs instead.

    You swab the inside of your cheek for forty-five seconds with each swab, then put the swabs in the vials provided snap each one off at the black line, and place both samples into the sealable bag.

    When you're done, you ship them off to the lab.

    You should avoid eating, drinking, or smoking for 30 minutes before collecting your sample to ensure accurate results.

    Make sure to register your test kit using the activation card so that you can access your results when they're ready.

    Here's what the kit includes:

    • Two cotton swabs (sealed) to collect your DNA sample
    • Two vials of preserving liquid for the swab samples
    • Plastic sealable bag
    • A return envelope to the lab (you need to add postage)
    • A registration card to activate your sample
    • Instructions on how to take the test

    How Fast Do Results Come Back?

    Waiting for test results always feels like an eternity, so it's good news that HomeDNA has a relatively short turnaround time.

    ou'll usually get your results within four to six weeks after they receive the sample. Many other tests can take roughly six to eight weeks to return results.

    What do The Results Include?

    HomeDNA actually offers three levels of DNA ancestry testing:

    • HomeDNA™ Starter Ancestry Test
    • HomeDNA™ Advanced Ancestry Test
    • GPS Origins® Ancestry Test

    For information of the first two ancestry tests plus all other HomeDNA test types, scroll down to the section marked HomeDNA's Prices and Details.

    The GPS Origins test is the one most comparable with other DNA ancestry tests. So those results are covered here.

    As with other DNA ancestry tests, GPS Origins provides a breakdown of your estimated ancestry. HomeDNA calls them Gene Pool Percentages and they report the percentages of your ancestry that they associate with each gene pool.

    You can click any of the top three to see those regions on a map.

    Another report is called DNA Migration Routes. You see two migration routes corresponding to the journeys of the maternal and paternal lines of your family.

    Since this is based on autosomal DNA inherited from multiple branches of your family tree, they cannot identify which migration route is associated with which parent. You can click on any of the maps points to see GPS coordinates. 

    Keep in mind that these migration routes may or may not reflect locations where your ancestors lived within recent generations.

    Do not be surprised if your results correlate poorly with the results you expect from known ethnicities or with the results of other DNA ancestry tests.

    How Does HomeDNA Protect Your Privacy?

    Be aware that the HomeDNA Privacy Policy includes this statement: “We may transfer Personal Data to our third-party Agents or business partners as described in the DNA Diagnostics Center Privacy Policy.”

    HomeDNA's Prices and Details

    Here is a more detailed look at the various tests offered by HomeDNA:

    HomeDNA™ Starter Ancestry Test

    The standard price of the test is $69, and it includes the following.

    • Instructions and cheek swabs for the test
    • Free prepaid postage envelope for returning the test

    This test only checks 13 DNA locations known as CODIS markers.

    Independent experts doubt that ancestry conclusions drawn from such limited data can be valid.

    HomeDNA™ Advanced Ancestry Test

    The Advanced test costs more at $124 but checks more than 80,000 DNA locations.

    While this should be more accurate than their 13-marker test, it still falls far short of the best ancestry tests such as 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and MyHeritage DNA that each check more than a half million locations

    GPS Origins® Ancestry Test

    This is the test described above and it is priced at $199.  Many experts say that the GPS Origins test does not provide meaningful results and has no practical application for the genetic genealogist.

    GPS Origins® Algorithm - Upload Your Raw Data

    If you have done another DNA test and are curious about this test, you can download your raw data from the other test and upload it HomeDNA for just $39.

    See their website to learn which tests and versions are compatible. 23andMe Version 5 data and FamilyTree DNA versions after October 2018 are excluded.

    GPS Origins® Ancestry Test African Edition or Asian Edition

    Two separate packages priced at $199, the African and Asian Ancestry tests give similar information to the GPS Origins® Ancestry Test.

    They’re specifically for those of African or Asian descent.

    • Access to Asia-specific or Africa-specific gene pools
    • Migration routes explained back to 2000+ years
    • Education about historical events that impacted your gene pool

    These packs should only be considered by people with African or Asian ethnicity.

    Note that they are subject to the same limitations as the regular edition.

    DNA Origins® Maternal Lineage or Paternal Lineage

    Priced at $69 each, these tests give you a chance to focus in on your mother or father’s lineage or both if you decide to invest in the two.

    While these tests may be an inexpensive way to determine your base haplogroups, those looking for more detailed haplogroup designations or genetic matches in their direct paternal or maternal lines should do the Y-DNA or mitochondrial DNA tests at Family Tree DNA instead.

    This is what you’ll get in each package.

    • Personalized certificate showing your haplogroup designation and ancestral journey
    • PDF results manual containing detailed reports on your results
    • Please note, females must use DNA from their biological brother or father

    HomeDNA™ Healthy Weight

    This test focuses on your weight and health and is priced at $119. It promises a detailed view of the genetics that affect your weight: the foods you should eat and the ones you should avoid to maintain a balanced diet.

    It also addresses nutrients needed to be healthy and recommended supplements based on DNAWorkouts and exercise ideas to suit your genetic makeup.

    HomeDNA™ Skin Care

    Another health option, but this time it’s all about your skin.

    This test will set you back $99 but might save you money on buying ineffective skincare that doesn’t suit your DNA.

    • In-depth view of the factors that influence your skin
    • Detailed findings on seven different skin concerns
    • Personal recommendations for supplements including topical and supplement ingredients, and professional treatments

    If you have skin problems or are concerned about the quality of your skin, then this test could be what you have been searching for to improve your life.

    HomeDNA™ Paternity

    This test is only available in retail stores and can confirm a person’s biological parent.

    It is not suitable for measuring any other relationship. The test is priced at $164.

    • 100% accurate results
    • Trained PhD approval of results
    • Two-day turnaround time

    This test isn’t about your distant ancestors or health and well-being, but it’s for people who want peace of mind over who their biological father is.

    Note that courts will not accept ANY test-results where DNA was collected at home because the identity of the participants cannot be verified.

    Animal Options

    HomeDNA doesn’t leave animals out of the picture and has several tests you can use on your fur baby.

    Here are the details of those in brief:

    • Mixed-Breed Dog Identification DNA Test and Life Plan™ $89 - Breed percentages, weight predictions, breed-specific games and more
    • HomeDNA™ Food & Pet Sensitivity $99 - Check your pet’s sensitivity to Lactose, Gluten, Histamine, Egg, Peanuts and more with health advice included
    • Dog DNA Health Screen and Life Plan™ $125 - 150 genetic diseases and traits, prevention and early identification of issues, and more.
    • Cat DNA Health Screen and Life Plan™ $125 - 40 genetic diseases and traits, and life plan for your cat.

    Summary

    HomeDNA is a reputable source for at-home paternity testing.

    Specialized tests for healthy weight, skin care, and pets are difficult to evaluate but may be suitable for those purposes.

    The company’s ancestry-related tests, however, are widely considered to be inferior to the industry leaders: AncestryDNA, 23andMe, MyHeritage DNA, and Family Tree DNA.

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