26 February 2015

Apostille or certification of DNA Test results

I have received several private e-mail messages from Europeans asking me to provide an apostille for DNA test results. This question may come up more often as DNA testing becomes more common, but some may be using the test results in ways not intended or easily supported with our current handling methods for genetic genealogy tests.

Open Clip Art http://openclipart.org/, designed by Anonymous, modified by Debbie Parker Wayne, 2015

An apostille is a a certificate that authenticates a document for use in another country. Genealogists who do research for and in European countries often deal with the need for an apostille authenticating the documents they provide.

While I would be willing to attest to the contents of my own reports or proof arguments, I do so with many caveats. I cannot attest to who provided a particular DNA sample—and neither can any genealogical DNA testing company that receives the sample via postal service. I cannot attest to the validity of the test results—only the testing company can do that. I cannot attest to the interpretation of those results unless I do the interpretation myself.

Anyone who needs authentication of DNA test results should contact the testing company to determine if the company can provide such authentication and what rules for chain of custody might be required. It would be best to determine the needed authentication is available before taking the test as special circumstances may be needed to verify the sample came from a particular person.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Apostille or certification of DNA Test results," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 26 February 2015 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2015, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved


  1. An apostille is often used to attest to the legitimacy of a notary from another country. For at least that purpose - and perhaps others - there is an international treaty which make the process easier. Otherwise it can be a pain in the neck.

  2. Yes, thanks for the comment, Israel. I would understand someone I had consulted with contacting me to authenticate my work. I am surprised to be contacted by someone I have not talked to before who is asking me to authenticate the certificate they got from a testing company. That just isn't something I am willing to do no matter how many times I am contacted. I do think if genetic genealogy test results will need to be authenticated for court cases some process for the authentication may need to be put in place. I suspect the testing companies would need more stringent collection methods for the DNA and might need to increase the price to cover the extra work involved in authenticating the results. This might best be done through different channels similar to those GeneByGene has set up for the medical and research tests (http://genebygene.com).

    1. I understood that FTDNA deliberately stays away from authentication because that way the government cannot demand anything. Nothing is really verified. No way to know if I did the test with my name on it or if someone else did it - which is how the company wants it.

      Apostille or even notarization seems silly in this context.