How Long Will Your DNA Test Take? (Fall 2018 Edition)

It’s autumn again, the time of year for fuzzy sweaters, pumpkin spice, and stocking up on DNA tests while they’re on sale!  (Click here for a list of sale prices.)

All the great discounts, though, have an unfortunate side effect:  so many DNA kits being returned to the labs at the same time cause bottlenecks, and individual tests take longer to process.

Right now, the labs are still chugging along smoothly, and most customers are receiving their autosomal tests results in just a few weeks, according to recent submissions to the DNA Processing Times Survey.  Over the past 3 months, Family Tree DNA has led the pack, averaging 19.4 days for their Family Finder test, followed by AncestryDNA (23.5 days), MyHeritage (23.8 days), Living DNA (36.7 days) and 23andMe (48.4 days).  Averages are from the day the test was mailed back to the lab to the day the results are available.

The processing times at 23andMe aren’t quite as dire as they look at first glance.  Remember that the figures reported above are averaged over 3 months.  Computer upgrades this summer caused major delays at 23andMe, and processing times reported for August and September are dragging down the average.  Two tests returned in October took only 10 and 8 days, respectively!

When we graph the processing times at the five major companies over the past 16 months, the holiday bump is obvious.


Last year, the delays extended into spring.  Of course, we really can’t complain, because the delays mean we’ll be getting lots of new DNA matches in the following months!  (We’ll probably complain anyway.  Haha!)

You can contribute to the DNA Processing Times Survey by clicking here.


yDNA and mtDNA

The DNA Processing Times survey accepts information about any of the testing companies and any kind of DNA test.  I don’t report on yDNA and mtDNA tests very often, because the survey doesn’t get many responses for them.  I wish it did.  With so few data points, we can’t make good predictions about how long a specific test might take.

The information we have suggests that Family Tree DNA will return full mtDNA results within about 29 days, Y-37 results in about 35 days, Y-67 results in about 27 days, and Big Y-500 results in about 69 days.  YSEQ takes about 35 days for SNP tests.  (Click here for an explanation of the different test offerings at Family Tree DNA.)


If you’ve ever taken a yDNA or mtDNA test at Family Tree DNA and would like to help the cause, you’re in luck!  Family Tree DNA gives you a complete order history, so you can fill out the survey even if you took the test a while ago and don’t remember the dates.  Simply log into your account, and click “Complete Order History” in the left-hand panel on the home page in your account.


The link will take you to a page that lists the dates when the each kit was received in the lab, each upgrade was ordered, and each set of results were completed. You can use that historical information to answer the survey and improve our tracking.  Thanks!

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