FamilyTree DNA Tests (FTDNA) Company Profile

Updated June 26, 2019

This article was scientifically reviewed by YourDNA

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A list of references is also included at the bottom of this article.

If you’re interested in completing a DNA test to learn more about your family’s history and your ancestry, FamilyTree DNA might be a good option for you. At, we understand how difficult it is to determine which DNA testing kit is the best option for you.

What's in this Guide?

Disclaimer: Before You Read

It is important to know that your genes are not your destiny. There are various environmental and genetic factors working together to shape you. No matter your genetic makeup, maintain ideal blood pressure and glucose levels, avoid harmful alcohol intake, exercise regularly, get regular sleep. And for goodness sake, don't smoke.

Genetics is a quickly changing topic.

That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive guide to FamilyTree DNA’s testing options.

What Is FamilyTree DNA?

Genetic ancestry testing can give you clues as to your family’s ancestry 1. While there are several DNA test kits on the market, FamilyTree DNA is a leader in the genetic genealogy industry.

The company uses DNA samples to determine a person’s ancestry and establish relationships between individuals. It offers three different versions of DNA testing including Y-DNA, mDNA, and Family Finder DNA ancestry test kits.

To have your DNA tested, you use the FamilyTree DNA test kit to collect a sample of your saliva and send it into the company. Then, you receive your DNA results online.

When Was FamilyTree DNA founded?

FamilyTree DNA was founded in 2000. Since then, more than 2 million people have used the service to have their DNA tested. With a database that consists of DNA from more than 2 million people, FamilyTree DNA doesn’t have the largest database on the market.

In fact, the 23andMe database size is estimated at around 10 million people. However, FamilyTree DNA completes three different kinds of genetic testing, so even though the database size is smaller than other companies, it’s more comprehensive than most.

Is Family Tree DNA Part Of

FamilyTree DNA is its own company. It’s not part of However, when reading through FamilyTree DNA vs comparisons, you’ll notice that you can upload your raw DNA results from to FamilyTree DNA free online.

The FamilyTree DNA free DNA upload and comparison option is also available to those who have had their DNA tested through 23andMe, Genebase, and MyHeritage.

What Products and Services Does FamilyTree DNA Offer?

With DNA testing, ancestry can be traced back from your mother’s side of the family, your father’s side of the family, or both.

All of these are referred to as genetic DNA testing 2, which is why it may be difficult to understand the differences between available tests. FamilyTree DNA offers three main types of DNA tests — autosomal DNA tests, Y-DNA tests, and mtDNA tests.

When both lines are tested, it’s called an autosomal DNA test. Tests that trace the paternal ancestry line are called Y-DNA tests and those that trace your ancestry from your mother’s side of the family are called mtDNA tests.

If you aren’t sure where to start, you should consider reading a comprehensive FamilyTree DNA review, like this one, thoroughly and using a FamilyTree DNA coupon to make your purchase.

FamilyTree DNA Testing Options & Recommended Tests

Autosomal Tests

The FamilyTree DNA Family Finder is a comprehensive autosomal DNA test. This means it focuses on DNA from both parents, four grandparents, and eight great grandparents.

When you choose this option, you can use the FamilyTree DNA dashboard to dig deeper into your lineage. Family Finder includes access to:

myOrigins: a mapping tool that gives you an ethnic and geographic breakdown of where your ancestors came from

ancientOrigins: a tool that maps the migration routes your ancient ancestors took and tells you the amount of autosomal DNA you still carry from ancient European civilizations

Family Matching: an enhanced feature that helps with finding family through DNA testing — both paternal and maternal family members

Chromosome Browser: a tool exclusive to FamilyTree DNA that lets you compare FamilyTree DNA matches in your family by specific segments of DNA

Y-DNA Tests

Men can use a Y-DNA test to trace their family tree back through their father’s side of the family. However, because women don’t have any Y chromosomes, they would need to have their father, brother, uncle, or paternal grandfather take the test for them.

FamilyTree DNA’s Y-DNA test options let men trace their paternal heritage. The Y chromosome is practically unchanged from father to son, so male ancestors carried your family’s Y chromosome as they migrated, allowing you to trace your paternal ancestry.

The test also lets you test your Y-DNA haplogroup, which are groups of mutations that happened tens of thousands of years ago over several generations when small groups of people migrated away from Africa.

FamilyTree DNA has four different Y-DNA test options, ranging in price from $129 to $499. All of these tests work the same, the only difference is the number of short tandem repeats (STRs).

The Y-DNA tests look for STRs in two different men to see if they match. Matching markers would indicate there is a genetic relationship between the two.

According to the FamilyTree DNA website, those getting started with DNA testing should consider the Y-37 Marker test. This will give you a basic overview of your DNA.

However, if you want to learn more about your paternal line through matching or participate in the company’s group programs, such as its free ethnicity test, you should consider the Y-67 Marker test or the Y-111 Marker test.

FamilyTree DNA also offers a Big Y-700 Marker test, which should only be considered by expert users. This test provides an additional 100,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), which show a genetic mutation or a new branch on your family tree, as well as additional STRs.

It’s important to note though, these markers don’t provide more refined matches.

MtDNA Tests

FamilyTree DNA’s mtDNA tests are ideal for anyone who wants to trace their maternal ancestral line. Mothers pass mtDNA onto their children — both boys and girls — but boys don’t pass the mtDNA they received from their mother on to their children.

FamilyTree DNA offers two mtDNA tests — one costs $89 and the other costs $199. The mtDNA Plus test examines two of the three regions of your mtDNA, while the mtFull Sequence test examines all three regions.

When all three regions of your mtDNA are tested, you get a more refined match list and haplogroup. Because of this, you should consider the mtFull Sequence DNA test if you’re interested in your genealogy and working with a complete list of genetic matches.

How Do FamilyTree DNA Tests Work?

If you’re wondering, “how to use FamilyTree DNA,” you’ll be happy to learn that the process is simple. The company’s DNA tests work like any other DNA testing kit.

All you have to do is purchase your kit, mail in your sample, and wait for your results. While you wait, you might want to browse through the FamilyTree DNA learning center to get a better understanding of the results you’ll receive once your test is processed.

FamilyTree DNA Submission Process

To start the DNA testing process, you need to determine which DNA test you want to take and order your kit. When your kit arrives, you follow the instructions included in the kit to collect a saliva sample.

Once you’ve sealed the saliva sample and completed the FamilyTree DNA consent form, you send the testing kit back to the lab and wait for your results.

You receive your FamilyTree DNA transparency report within four to eight weeks online. Then, to begin your family search DNA, login to the website to start participating in group projects, view your Family Finder reports, and communicate with others in the private forum.  

How Is My DNA Sample Processed and Stored?

When you receive your FamilyTree DNA testing kit, you’ll notice it has two vials — one for each cheek. Both of the vials are labeled with a barcode that connects to your account, so when FamilyTree DNA receives your samples, you’re immediately notified of their arrival.

One of your vials is sent to FamilyTree DNA’s federally compliant CAP/CLIA-certified lab for DNA extraction. The sample is stored in a robotic freezer that’s set at -20℃ so it’s ready to be processed and tested.

Any DNA from the first vial that isn’t used for the test you ordered remains stored in the freezer for use on any future tests you order.

The second DNA vial is stored in a secured room, at room temperature, for up to 25 years. This vial is used only in the event the first vial’s sample doesn’t have enough DNA or a good enough quality of DNA to complete the tests you’ve ordered.

FamilyTree DNA and Genetic Data Privacy

Many people wonder whether genetic DNA tests are beneficial or harmful because they are concerned about their privacy 3. However, at FamilyTree DNA, your privacy is one of its top priorities.

You determine how your genetic information is used and shared with others. FamilyTree DNA uses industry-standard security measures to store your DNA test results, DNA samples, and any other personal data you provide.

DNA test results and samples use a barcode system. They are stored without any names or other identifying information.

How Is My Privacy Protected?

FamilyTree DNA lets you decide how your personal information is shared. You aren’t required to participate in any group programs.

The company has security measures in place to protect all of your personal information against loss, misuse, and alteration. These policies are periodically reviewed and revised to ensure your DNA samples, test results, and other personal information you share with the company is completely secure.

Does FamilyTree DNA Sell Your Data?

FamilyTree DNA doesn’t sell your data to other companies. It also doesn’t share your personal information, other than as described in the Privacy Policy 4, with third parties without your additional consent.

When using FamilyTree DNA, you choose how your information is shared by adjusting the settings in your account. However, the company may share information with commonly owned entities, such as its parent company and/or subsidiaries, in an effort to provide a better user experience.

Some data, such as how you use the website, may be provided to third-party advertisers via cookies on the website. Your personal data isn’t shared with them. This data is solely for advertising targeting purposes.

FamilyTree DNA may also comply with law enforcement agencies if the agency meets the company’s Law Enforcement Guidelines. This might include the creation of a limited account that allows a law enforcement agency to identify the remains of a deceased individual or identify the perpetrator of a homicide or sexual assault.

However, FamilyTree DNA tracks Law Enforcement Accounts through an in-house identification system that lets users opt out of Law Enforcement Matching.

Users are only viewable to the Law Enforcement accounts if all of the following conditions are met:

  • The user has opted into Law Enforcement Matching
  • The user hasn’t opted out of Law Enforcement Matching
  • The user account and the Law Enforcement Account have the same matching levels selected
  • The user is a genetic relative to the genetic file uploaded to the Law Enforcement account

Keep in mind, even if all of the above requirements aren’t met, FamilyTree DNA may still have to comply with warrants and subpoenas when they are issued.

How Much Does FamilyTree DNA Testing Cost?

FamilyTree DNA testing’s costs vary depending on the type of test you order. Prices range from $59 to $499.

The Family Finder test is the least expensive option and the Big Y-700 is the most expensive. All of the other test options fall somewhere in the middle.

Is FamilyTree DNA Testing Covered by Insurance?

FamilyTree DNA testing isn’t covered by your insurance because it’s not a medically necessary DNA test. However, you may be able to find a FamilyTree DNA coupon code online to offset some of the costs.

How Long Does It Take to Receive Your Results From FamilyTree DNA?

FamilyTree DNA tests take between four and eight weeks to complete. However, the time varies depending on the type of test you order.

When your test results are available, you’re notified via email.

  • Family Finder results typically take between two and four weeks
  • mtDNA results take between six and eight weeks
  • Y-DNA test results usually take between three and six weeks

FamilyTree DNA delays don’t occur often, but at times a delay in the testing process, a delay in receiving your sample kit, or a small or low-quality sample may hold up the process. If this happens, you are notified immediately.

FamilyTree DNA Tests Pros and Cons

FamilyTree DNA tests are really similar to other DNA testing kits on the market. If you’re interested in exploring your family’s ancestry, FamilyTree DNA tests are a good option.

However, if you’re looking for the best DNA test for health screenings, it might not be a good fit because the company doesn’t have its FDA certification to provide DNA health screenings like 23andMe does.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for the best DNA test for Native American ancestry FamilyTree DNA is a good option. The company’s tests can show you whether you have Native American ancestry, as well as other ethnicities because the tests dig deep into your ethnic origins.

Of course, there are several things you should understand before taking a home DNA test. It’s important to understand that the results you receive won’t tell your whole genetic story and they can vary quite a bit 5.

This is because the results are only as good as the lab’s database. But if you go into the genetic DNA testing process with an open mind, there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy the experience.

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Referenced Sources

  1. U.S National Library Medicine. 11 June 2019.
  2. Genetic Testing.
    Mayo Clinic Staff. May 14, 2019.
  3. Consumer Genetic Testing Is Booming: But What are the Benefits and Harms to Individuals and Populations?
    Scott Bowen and Muin J, Khoury, Office of Public Health Genomics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia. June 12, 2018.
  4. Privacy Policy.
    FamilyTree DNA website. Last updated May 2019.
  5. 5 Things to Know Before You Take a Home DNA Test.
    The California State University, Hazel Kelly. 22 June 2018.