Fact Sheet - DNA testing

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DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) is the genetic material present in every cell of the body including blood, saliva, skin and hair. Everyone has DNA. We inherit our DNA makeup from our parents. Therefore, blood relatives share similar DNA.

DNA testing

To determine if people are biologically related DNA testing compares genetic material from two or more people. The genetic material for testing is usually taken from a mouth swab or blood sample.

The Department endorses DNA testing as one means of providing evidence of a claimed biological family relationship. DNA testing is a useful option when documentary evidence of a claimed biological relationship such as birth certificates and family books are unreliable or unavailable.

The Department may suggest that applicants undertake DNA testing as a means to prove a claimed biological relationship when available evidence of a claimed relationship is not satisfactory.

Applicants may be required to provide evidence of a family relationship to meet the criteria for the grant of a visa or Australian citizenship by descent. DNA test results can provide evidence of claimed family relationships, for example parent-child relationship or brothers and sisters.

DNA testing is not mandatory

DNA testing is not required by law and applicants do not have to undertake DNA testing even if it is suggested by the Department. DNA testing is another form of evidence—usually an alternative to a birth certificate.

If an applicant agrees to undertake DNA testing, the Department provides information on how to arrange a test that will meet the Department's requirements. Any test obtained outside the departmental requirements may not be accepted.
See: Form 1259i - Information about DNA testing for visa and citizenship applicants (51KB PDF)

If an applicant decides not to undertake DNA testing, a decision on the visa or citizenship by descent application will be made on the information available to the Department at that time.

Costs for DNA testing

Applicants for migrant visas or Australian citizenship by descent must pay the full costs for DNA testing.

The Department pays the full costs of DNA testing for refugee visa applicants. However, Special Humanitarian Programme applicants who are given the option of taking part in a DNA test must pay the full costs of the test.

Counselling

Applicants can seek counselling from a health professional or a panel physician before deciding to undertake DNA testing. Counselling is also available after the DNA test results are known.
Note: Applicants are responsible for paying the costs of any counselling undertaken.

What the DNA test results show

DNA testing of a parent and a child shows the biological link between them. DNA testing confirms or denies the claimed relationship. However, sometimes the DNA test does not give a clear result of a relationship for other family members. If a result is not clear, the laboratory will explain the results.

What the DNA test results are used for

The DNA tests results disclosed to the Department will be used strictly for immigration purposes only.

Privacy and confidentiality issues

The Department is bound by the Privacy Act 1988.

DNA testing laboratories must obtain the applicants written consent before they can disclose their DNA test results to the Department or to a sponsor.

Laboratories

If the Department suggests an applicant undertakes DNA testing, the applicant needs to choose a DNA testing laboratory that has been accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia (NATA).

More information

More information on the department's DNA testing process is available.
See: Form 1259i - Information about DNA testing for visa and citizenship applicants (51KB PDF)

Note: This form is available in other languages.
See: Forms in Other Languages - By Number