Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How are 23andMe's ancestry features different from other ancestry services?
A: Some ancestry services are records-based, which means that they help you search historical records such as birth, death and marriage certificates, to trace your lineage. 23andMe offers genetics-based ancestry reports and tools, which means that we analyze your DNA to trace your lineage.
With 23andMe, you can look deeper into your personal history to learn what percentage of your DNA comes from populations around the world, find your DNA relatives, learn about your maternal and paternal lineages and even see how much of your DNA comes from Neanderthals.
Q: How large is the 23andMe DNA database?
A: The 23andMe DNA database has more than three million genotyped customers worldwide. You will continue to find new relatives as our database grows over time.
Q: What should I consider when opting in to DNA Relatives?
A: Many people benefit from finding new family members – from those who fill in details of their family trees to adoptees finding their biological family.
If you opt in to DNA Relatives, you will be able to send and receive invitations to connect with other customers who share DNA with you. You can choose whether to respond to these invitations or not, and your DNA relatives have the same choice. We cannot guarantee that they will respond to your sharing invitations or messages. Regardless of whether you both agree to share, you will be able to see their birthplace, locations of their ancestors and surnames, if they have chosen to add this information to their profile. If you both accept sharing invitations, you will be able to see ancestry reports and overlapping chromosome segments.
In rare cases, participation in DNA Relatives may reveal that you are related to someone unexpected, or that you are not related to someone in the way that you expected. Consider this before you opt in to this feature.
Q: Do men and women receive different information from 23andMe?
A: Your ancestry results are based on a few different types of DNA—DNA inherited from both of your parents (chromosomes 1-22), Y chromosome DNA and mitochondrial DNA.
DNA that you inherit from both parents is called autosomal DNA. Since you inherit approximately half of this type of DNA from each parent, it reflects recent ancestry from both sides of your family tree. The vast majority of our features, including our Ancestry Composition report and DNA Relatives tool, are based on autosomal DNA.
Haplogroups are a different story. Your maternal line haplogroup assignment is derived from a separate piece of DNA called the mitochondria. Since mitochondria is passed on only by mothers to their children, your maternal line haplogroup assignment only tells you about your mother's side of the family. Similarly, the paternal line haplogroup assignment is derived from a different, separate piece of DNA called the Y chromosome. The Y chromosome is only passed from fathers to sons and only traces the paternal line.
Haplogroups are mainly used for doing anthropological research of time frames long before the adoption of surnames. Haplogroups are simply pointers to a large geographic area of the world where that haplogroup is found in high frequency.
Some genetic ancestry services only provide autosomal DNA analysis or charge you separately for the maternal and paternal haplogroup information. 23andMe includes all of these for a single price.
Q: How do I receive my reports?
A: Our service is exclusively online. You'll receive your reports through a password-protected account at 23andme.com, and you'll have access to additional web-based tools and features.
In order to receive reports and participate in the service, you need to have a valid email address that allows you to send and receive messages. You also need access to a computer or mobile device that connects to the Internet.
Q: Why do I need to register my kit?
A: You need to register your kit in order to link it to your 23andMe account online. Registration connects the barcode on your saliva sample to your account so we know your sample belongs to you. Our lab cannot process your sample if it is not registered.
Q: How does my DNA become a report?
A: Your saliva contains DNA from cells in your mouth. We send you a saliva collection kit and instructions for providing your sample.
Our CLIA-certified lab extracts DNA from cells in your saliva sample. Then the lab processes the DNA on a genotyping chip that reads hundreds of thousands of locations in your genome.
Your genetic data is analyzed, and we generate your personalized reports based on well-established scientific and medical research.
Q: How is my privacy protected?
A: You choose how your genetic information is used and shared with others. We tell you how those choices are implemented and how we collect, use and disclose your information.
- We will not share your individual-level information with any third party without your explicit consent
- We support the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) and other similar laws that protect individuals from being discriminated against based on their genetics and will not provide your information or results to employers or health insurance companies
- We have guidelines and policies in place to protect the personal information of children as well as incapacitated or deceased individuals
- We do not provide information to law enforcement unless we are required to comply with a valid subpoena or a court-ordered request
You can review 23andMe’s Privacy Statement at http://23andme.com/privacy