Specimen Collection

Please review the frequently asked questions below.

    Specimen FAQ

  • Who needs to be tested?

    It is preferable to test a child, alleged father, and the mother of the child. However, testing is possible without the mother’s sample and in certain circumstances, such as when the alleged father is unavailable or deceased, it is also possible to conduct a test using stored DNA samples from the alleged father or DNA from his biological relatives.

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  • Is there a collection site close to me?

    Labcorp has a nationwide network of more than 1,900 locations that perform DNA collections by buccal swabs. There are no additional fees for samples collected at a Labcorp facility Labcorp also has contracts with more than 13,000 collection sites globally, where collection fees may apply. Please use our Collection Site Locator to find a site located near you.

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  • How is the identity of each tested party assured?

    In a legal test, each adult party is required to provide government-issued photo identification at the time of collection. The specimen collector examines the identification and either records that information on the chain-of-custody form or makes a photocopy to attach to the chain-of-custody form. In addition, a photograph is also taken of each party. Minor children are identified through an official birth certificate. If a government-issued photo ID is available for the child, this will be used, as well.

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  • Can I eat before the test?

    Food consumption does not affect your DNA, but could contaminate the buccal swab used for DNA sample collection. Food residue left in the mouth may contaminate the swab and inhibit the extraction of DNA from the swab. If you have eaten recently, the collection technician will ask you to rinse out your mouth.

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  • Can samples be collected at home?

    In a non-legal test, standard cheek swab specimens may be collected in a non-clinical setting such as a home. However, the DNA test results conducted using such samples are not intended for use in a court of law. Results using samples collected at home will be for the knowledge of the tested parties only.

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  • What do I need to bring to the appointment?

    In a legal test, each adult tested party should bring a government-issued photo identification (usually a driver’s license or passport) and, if possible, government-issued identification for the child (such as a birth certificate).

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  • Can testing be performed if one of the parties resides in another city or state?

    Yes, whether you are doing a legal test or non-legal test, the samples can be taken at different times and places, even if the parties reside in different cities or states.

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  • Do all the parties have to submit a sample together?

    No, parties can provide their samples at different times and in different cities or states. Labcorp has a large specimen collection network, making it convenient for all parties to submit samples. When placing your order, let us know if certain parties should be scheduled together or separately.

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  • Where are samples collected?

    The samples for a legal DNA paternity test are collected by one of our company-operated or contracted sites throughout North America. The samples for a non-legal test is collected by the parties themselves in a non-clinical setting (usually at home).

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  • Is there a minimum age for obtaining a sample?

    No, there is no minimum age. The collection of DNA samples for paternity or identity testing using buccal swabs or blood samples is safe for all ages. Minors must have appropriate consent from a legal guardian or a court order to collect the samples.

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  • Are buccal swabs as accurate as blood samples?

    Buccal swabs and blood samples provide results with the same degree of accuracy. But, since buccal swabs are easy and painless to collect, they are used in the majority of DNA paternity tests.

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  • What types of samples are tested?

    The standard sample for a paternity test is a cheek swab (also called a buccal swab), which is a long cotton swab that is rubbed inside the inner cheek lining of a person’s mouth. Typically, four swabs are collected from each tested party.

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