DNA Testing for Free?! Explore Your Options!
Getting free information about your genes is not easy these days. If you simply Google ways to get free DNA test kits, you won’t find much. Just 23andMe ads, and false leads to family history websites. If you’re lucky, you might find a minor discount for one of the major DNA testing companies. But, that’s about it.
However, the editors at Genomelink are here to help! In this article, we have compiled all the best ways to get the most DNA information for your buck!
*Have you already got your DNA test kit? Just looking for websites where you can upload a raw DNA data file to get additional analysis or access relative finder network? If so, please read this article about "Best DNA Upload Sites," or check out Genomelink (you'll get 25+ free fun traits!).
Join a Research Study!
One of the only real ways to get a free DNA kit is to join a research study. Below are several options, most of which will give you a full genetic analysis.
The All of Us Research Project
The All of Us Research Project is a project based on United States residents funded by the National Institutes of Health, a federally-funded research organization. The large-scale study has the goal of analyzing the genetics, health habits, diets, and lifestyles of over 1 million Americans in an effort to better understand how we can use genetics in precision medicine.
To join the project, simply follow the instructions on JoinAllofUs.org. The website will have you sign up, and you will need to report to an enrollment center to have your initial measurements taken, in addition to any other start-up questions the researchers have. Then, you will give a DNA sample with a simple mouth swab. The project, in return, shares all of the new information that is uncovered.
Genes For Good
Genes For Good is a University of Michigan-sponsored project aiming to gather and study large populations of genetic data. The study is open to U.S. residents. To join the study, you simply sign up using the study’s Facebook app. Then, you will be asked several survey questions made by genetic genealogists and geneticists. After you have filled out the surveys, the researchers will mail you a normal autosomal DNA test spit collection tube. Spit in the tube, and you’re off to the races!
Genes For Good provides a wide range of results in exchange for your help with the project. They have a chromosome browser that allows you to discover where portions of your autosomal DNA originated. Other DNA results include information on health-related SNPs, several charts on your genetic genealogy, where you fit on a plot of world populations, and other great information found in the major DNA kits.
Check For Your Last Name!
One of the most interesting ways people can get a free DNA kit is a bit unusual. The International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) hosts a Wiki page called Free DNA Tests. This page is mostly dedicated to family finder projects. So, check for your last name!
Many of these projects offer free DNA analysis for people in certain family lines. Many of the projects are funded by private families or researchers trying to fully complete family trees. For this reason, most of the projects are only analyzing the Y-chromosome, which stores information about your paternal line. Others are for mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). This form of DNA stores information about your maternal line.
But, if you watch the ISOGG site, you may stumble across all types of studies. Many universities offer more limited DNA studies that they may post on this site. However, not all of the studies and offers on this site will give you the same easy-to-understand test results you can get on a consumer DNA test or by participating in a research project.
Use Your Raw DNA Data for Free Analysis!
One of the easiest ways to get free DNA information is to use your raw DNA data. This does mean you have to first purchase 1 DNA test, but everything after that can be free. There are many third-party companies that will analyze your raw data in their DNA database. Check out how this works below!
Commonly, ancestry DNA websites allow you to upload your raw DNA data for free. This is true for companies like FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA), MyHeritage, LivingDNA, and other testing companies. Other sites, like GEDmatch, will allow you to research family members and your maternal and paternal line through haplogroups. In fact, you can check a blog post we’ve written about the best free ancestry testing sites.
Other Ways to Explore Your Raw DNA Data
If you are still looking for cheap or free ways to explore your raw DNA data, check out some of your other options. Many of these companies offer additional analyses of your data so you can learn more about your DNA. Did we mention some of them are free?!
Yes, You Can Get a Free DNA Test
DNA testing and ancestry research in general can be a pricey proposition. Between the test costs, subscriptions to family tree databases, add-on testing for additional features (like health and wellness), and other costs, you could spend hundred on dollars on your new genetics hobby.
Or, you can get a free DNA test kit.
If you’re hoping to save money while researching your genetic history, you’ll want to explore all of your options before committing to a fee-based DNA test. First, think about joining a research study. There are several options out there, and they usually will give you a full genetic analysis. Worried that a free DNA test might be risky or not professional? Opt to join the research project being led by the established, internationally-respected National Institutes of Health, a federally-funded research organization.
The National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Project is a large-scale, U.S.-based study. Its main goal is to analyze the genetics, health habits, diets, and lifestyles of over 1 million Americans in an effort to better understand how we can use genetics in precision medicine. You get a free DNA test result, and get to help advance health care knowledge that could save lives.
Genes for Good is another reputable option. Run by the world-class University of Michigan, this study is open to U.S. residents and aims to gather and study large populations of genetic data, also in service of medical research and advancement.
Did you know that the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) hosts a Wiki page called Free DNA Tests? If your last name appears on the page, you might be able to access free DNA analysis for people in certain family lines. Much of what you’ll find has been funded by private families or researchers trying to fully complete family trees. Although less accessible than the DNA research projects (because many last names and family lines are not represented in the database), you might just get lucky by checking this site!
Of course, at the end of the day, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The most common way to get a DNA ancestry test is not free - it’s to pay for it. That said, there are ways to minimize your expenses as you dip your toes into the world of DNA testing and genetic research. First, find the DNA testing company that you feel gives the biggest bang for your buck. What information is most important to you to learn from your DNA analysis? See which companies are offering what you’re looking for before you purchase their test, so you won’t waste money on testing that doesn’t return the results you’re searching for.
Lastly, once you have your raw DNA data in hand, you can use that information to access free DNA analysis from other companies. Uploading your raw DNA data into Genomelink, for example, doesn’t cost you anything, and will return 25 different traits for you to explore. Add more insights to the story of you today!
To find out more DNA upload sites, check out our article "The Best DNA Upload Sites"