Best DNA Tests for Ancestry | 2024 DNA Testing

Diahan Southard

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The best DNA tests for ancestry in 2024 include both ethnicity results AND DNA matches. Here are the top DNA test kit options for exploring family history.

Best DNA tests for ancestry

Taking a consumer DNA test for family history can help you discover more about your heritage and connect with biological relatives. An autosomal DNA test is the most common test to start with. It reveals clues about your family history on both sides of your family for the past 4-6 generations.

Best DNA Tests for Family History 2021 DNA test kitDNA tests for family history give you ancestral ethnicity results AND a list of your DNA matches: genetic relatives who have tested with the same company. Testing company websites have tools to help you connect with your matches and figure out how you’re related.

Just remember—the best DNA test kit for YOU is the one that will answer your research question. You’ll find more detailed tips on topics like the best DNA test for different kinds of origins, or finding birth relatives, etc. below.

Best DNA tests for ethnicity

Test with a company that offers the most detailed look at your expected ethnic regions. Or read these specific articles for the best DNA test for:

Best DNA tests for finding birth relatives

Test at the company where your biological relatives are more likely to have tested. That means thinking about a) which companies are selling tests in that part of the world and b) the total size of their testing pool (both reported above). In the U.S., AncestryDNA and 23andMe are the most popular. In the British Isles, AncestryDNA and 23andMe and Living DNA are all popular. In the rest of Europe, look to MyHeritage. In other areas globally, it could be MyHeritage, AncestryDNA (which recently expanded the list of countries where tests are sold) or 23andMe.

Best DNA tests for finding ancestors or building your family tree

Choose a testing company with strong tools for tree-building and exploring your matches (that’s AncestryDNA or MyHeritage).

If, like us, you want DNA results from more than one company, you should know that you can transfer your results to MyHeritage, Living DNA, or FamilyTreeDNA if you test with any of the other companies.

For most people, the best strategy will be to take a test at Ancestry, and transfer your results to MyHeritage. But as you can see, there’s not one-answer-best-fits-everyone for DNA testing! If you’re not sure, see our full reviews of each testing company. When you buy a test, thank you for using our affiliate links above. Your purchase helps support this website at no additional cost to you.

Here are a few things more things to consider before comparing tests at different companies:

  • Availability: Consider where you live AND where your DNA relatives may live
  • Swab or spit: Learn more about both methods.
  • How many testers: More testers = more potential DNA relatives
  • Can you transfer your DNA there: Save money! Test at one company, then transfer to others
  • Price: The prices listed do not include optional add-ons or shipping. Your purchase using our affiliate links costs you nothing extra but we get a little commission. Thank you!

AncestryDNA

See our full review

Availability: US, UK, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, South Korea and 119 other countries

How many testers: 25 million+

Ethnicity estimate: 2,600+ global regions (including specific locales and migration groups)

Shared matches tool: Yes, but limited access without a subscription

Family tree tools: Robust tools, available with a subscription, include ThruLines (reconstructs trees for matches with common ancestors) and SideView (assigns matches and ethnicity inheritance to parents even if they haven’t tested)

Can you transfer DNA here? No

Other features: Build your family tree for free, but genealogy research requires subscription. Traits report also available.

Swab or spit: Spit

Price: $99 regular price       See current prices for Australia  Canada  U.K.  U.S.

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FamilyTreeDNA

See our full review

Availability: GLOBALLY (anywhere U.S. Postal Service delivers); does not ship to Sudan or Iran

How many testers: est. 2 million

Ethnicity estimate: 90 geographic regions

Shared matches tool: Yes, called “In common/Not in common”

Family tree tools: None

Can you transfer DNA here? Yes! Here’s how

Other features: Also sells YDNA and mtDNA tests. Join projects to explore connections to surnames, ethnicities, and places.

Swab or spit: Swab

Price: $79 regular price       See current price

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MyHeritage DNA

See our full review

Availability: GLOBALLY except Israel, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, North Korea, Lebanon, Russia, and Syria

How many testers: 5.7 million

Ethnicity estimate: 2,000+ global regions and Genetic Groups (specific locales and migration groups)

Shared matches tool: Yes, with a subscription or paying an unlock fee

Family tree tools: Robust tools including Theory of Family Relativity (constructs possible tree relationships, with qualifying purchase)

Can you transfer DNA here? Yes! Here’s how

Other features: Build your family tree for free, but genealogy research requires subscription. More DNA tools available when you transfer and pay $29 upload fee.

Swab or spit: Swab

Price: $89 regular price       See current price

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23andMe

See our full review

Availability: US, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and more

How many testers: 14 million+

Ethnicity estimate: 2,750+ regions worldwide and high-level haplogroup info

Shared matches tool: Yes, called “Relatives in Common”

Family tree tools: Automated genetic family tree (doesn’t use actual family tree data)

Can you transfer DNA here? No

Other features: Health reports also available

Swab or spit: Spit

Price: $119 regular price       See current price

 

I’ll guide you through this

Our company, Your DNA Guide, helps people along the way in their DNA testing journey. There’s a lot to figure out, and we’re here with you every step of the way. Start with our free Guide to Getting Started with DNA Testing and companion email series.

Get Free Guide to DNA Testing for Family History

 

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<a href="https://www.yourdnaguide.com/author/guideyourdnaguide-com" target="_self">Diahan Southard</a>

Diahan Southard

As founder and CEO of Your DNA Guide, Diahan Southard has been teaching people how to find family history answers in their DNA for several years, and she's been in the genetic genealogy field since its infancy. Diahan teaches internationally, writes for popular magazines, consults with leading testing companies, is author of Your DNA Guide–The Book, and producer of Your DNA Guide–the Academy, an online learning experience.

25 Comments

  1. Kay Hall

    I have taken 4 DNA Tests but do not know how to use them
    Family Tree
    Ancestry
    23 and Me
    My-Heritage

    Reply
    • Diahan

      Well, Kay! That’s what we are all about! We have lots of resources here at Your DNA Guide, but you may want to start with our free download: https://www.yourdnaguide.com/next-steps. That will give you a few things to start with.

      Reply
  2. Marvin Von Renchler

    Since this is all relatively new, how does a DNA test attach us to anyone who hasnt taken a test? Im 67. have been dead for many years. They were born well over a hundred years ago and noone had dna tests. How can DNA testing find ANYONE but those who have taken tests?

    Reply
    • Diahan Southard

      Good question.
      It really has to do with the fact that all of us are walking, living, breathing records of our ancestors. So when you and I match on a DNA test, it tells us something about the relationships of our ancestors, even though our ancestors have never tested. I hope that helps.

      Reply
  3. Gail Johnson

    My maternal Canadian Irish great-grandmother had a very common name, Mary O’Neil, and was born in “English Canada” in 1838, according to her. She came to the United States “sometime” before border crossings were being recorded, and married my great-grandfather in DeKalb, IL, in 1861. I have several documents, photos, and personal stories about her after her marriage and the birth of her six living children. I know nothing about where she was born in Canada, who her parents or siblings were, or how her parents came to live in Canada. I did a DNA test on Ancestry, and also had my mother tested before she died. My brother, nephew, and daughter have also had an Ancestry DNA test done. Do you have any advice for me on trying to discover more about this elusive great-grandmother? I also have an extensive public family tree on Ancestry.

    Reply
  4. Elizabeth

    Every branch of my family’s initial ancestors came to America from Eng, Scot and Wales from 1670 thru 1700. All into Virginia, some stayed there, most moving into SC, some stayed in NC or moved into GA except for a few who came straight to SC. So-I have taken an Ancestry test, so has my sister, one (female) maternal & male paternal 1st cousin. My sister and I are the ones working, me mostly of late. We have got our ancestors sorted out through 3rd -4th ancestors, and some further back. However, lots of endogamy in the colonial era.
    1. We would really like to “jump the pond” to get our ancestors located in Europe.
    2. Would YDNA help us?
    3. Is there another testing service that would assist us? Would you recommend that?

    4. My paternal and maternal 1st cousin has Huguenots in their line, would that explain the odd %2 Basque ethnicity
    PS. I am signed up for the endogamy course with y’all

    Reply
    • Diahan Southard

      Elizabeth, yes, I think YDNA can always be helpful. Remember you can use it to investigate any male on your family tree, you just need to find the right person to be tested.

      To tackle endogamy, it is helpful to have lots of people tested. It sounds like you are well on your way to that, so just keep going. The more known cousins you have tested, the easier it is to sort out endogamy. And it sounds like you have already taken the best next step! You are enrolled in my course!

      As for the Huguenots, that is an interesting theory. I am actually not sure how they are showing up for others in their ethnicity.

      Reply
    • Laura

      Like you I have unknown Basque ethnicity of 1.2%. Also, all my ancestors came to the colonies between 1613 and 1774 from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. They came to Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. As far as I know while I have Quaker ancestry I don’t have Huguenot ancestry. It was LivingDNA that listed me as having Basque ethnicity. Was it Ancestry that said that you have Basque ethnicity? Ancestry didn’t mention that I had any Basque ethnicity. I also had descendants of my ancestors who moved to GA. I’m also trying to cross the pond for research.

      Reply
  5. Teresa Outley

    Loving the information on this site, you have done great job on the content.

    Reply
  6. Sarit

    Thanks for the very informative article, do you happen to know if there are any companies that provide home ancient DNA tests?
    I took the Bronze Age DNA test (GenePlaza), which was a lot of fun, but I want to learn more.

    Reply
    • Diahan Southard

      Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) does dabble a bit in that ancient DNA stuff. Have you tried YDNA or mtDNA testing at FTDNA? That can delve into the ancient as well as the modern.

      Reply
  7. S.E

    I am currently 16 years old and was born in Morocco by an unknown father, my mother doesn’t remember anything about him, although it was a one-night stand, she said that his name was Abdekrim, but he may have lied about it. I really want to find him just to stop all the popping questions in my head, I know nothing about him, but I hope there’s a way I can find out who he is. Furthermore, I don’t know if your DNA service works in Morocco too, and I really hope it does. And if there is any other way it could be really helpful.

    Reply
    • Danielle Francis

      Hi! Thanks for your comment. You can check the table above to see which DNA tests are offered in Morocco, we don’t provide any of the DNA tests ourselves, but we do offer education and consultation on how to understand your DNA results after taking a DNA test. I would recommend checking out this article: https://www.yourdnaguide.com/ydgblog/how-to-find-birth-father-without-his-name

      Reply
  8. John D Rhoades

    I did my test with crigenetics but it only tells me ancestry way back . I’m looking for my father. My mother is deceased. I really need help

    Reply
  9. Angela Allard

    Are there any companies that do blood spot testing? My son has passed away but I have blood spot cards available.

    Reply
    • Diahan Southard

      There aren’t many companies that offer services like this, and those that do are pretty pricey. AND many of the major testing companies won’t let you upload these types of DNA results into their database. If you are really interested you can check out To the Letter DNA (https://www.totheletterdna.com/). Usually what we recommend is to test another relative if they’re available.

      Reply
  10. Deborah D Northrop

    Hi there! I enjoyed your presentation at the RootsTech Virtual conference. I have connected with a few savvy cousins. They have been very helpful to me. Two of my siblings have taken the 23 & Me test. I have chosen to take the Ancestry test.

    I am looking forward to you DNA seminar

    Debbi Morgan Northrop

    Reply
    • Diahan Southard

      So glad you could join us at RootsTech this year, wasn’t it such a great event?! We can’t wait for you to join us in the webinar 🙂

      Reply
  11. John Greenfield

    I think my 3x great grand parents were brother and sister, can this be determined from my DNA results?

    Reply
    • Diahan Southard

      If you have enough descendants of those specific 3x great grandparents, then it is likely that you will be able to confirm that they were brother and sister. What you’ll be looking for is a higher amount than normal of shared cM between their descendants due to the multiple relationship/ pedigree collapse situation. For a more detailed walk-through of what to do, I would recommend our Endogamy Course (which also addresses pedigree collapse) or a Coaching session.

      Reply
  12. Laura

    Diahan, To answer your question as to why I selected to be tested at Ancestry and LivingDNA was that the head of my local Family History Center would bring back DNA Kits from RootsTech. She attended RootsTech every year and brought back DNA Kits for people who had requested them. She would often have a suitcase full of them. I’d been following the Paper Trail for decades going back to the 1970s and was hoping DNA would help me break down my Brick Wall. I have maternal 3rd great-grandparents, John and E. Smith, who were born around 1800 in Virginia. I haven’t been able to find them on any record except listed on the Marriage Record of their son. Also, as I knew that I had at least two maternal lines from England I chose LivingDNA which at that time didn’t allow uploading of DNA. My maternal grandmother’s maternal lines were both from England. Her ancestor, John Clay, was at the Muster at Jamestown and arrived in Virginia in 1613. Her ancestor, David Wheelhouse, and his family Emigrated from Kingston on Hull, England to Norfolk, Virginia in 1774. They were my earliest and latest immigrant ancestors. While I’d expected to learn where my ancestors came from in England I was surprised to find that I had over 85% UK ancestry. Besides England it showed that I also had Ireland, Scotland, and Wales ancestry. I plan on figuring out which of my lines were from the over a dozen different locations that LivingDNA listed for me in the UK. I’ve also downloaded my DNA and uploaded it to MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA, Geneanet, etc. I’d like to find someone on my paternal line who could take a YDNA test. In the meantime I’ve ordered a mtDNA test.

    Reply
  13. Eliena Sagasti

    I first took a FamilyTree DNA test. I got my father and husband tested there. When Ancestry started tested I then tested myself and my husband. My father had passed by then. I have since uploaded mine and my fathers dna to My Heritage. And since watching your turorials i intend to upload to living dna

    Reply
  14. Annette

    The majority of my family has chosen to test with Ancestry, so that makes it easier to see matches between them.

    However, my father is deceased and my brother is the last male in our branch of the Nettles line. He agreed to Y-DNA testing at Family Tree DNA (currently at 111 Markers). I also tested there for mtDNA. Just seemed logical.

    Have also taken advantage of free uploads at Family Tree DNA, My Heritage and GEDmatch.

    Reply

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