Ancestry Testing

Updated On Feb 25, 2022

This information is meant to be used for educational purposes to inform providers, patients, and genetic service delivery stakeholders about genetics policy topics. Sharing of information, resources, or policy statements is no way an endorsement of stated positions by NCC.


Ancestry testing uses an individual’s genetic profile to estimate their ancestral origins or populations(s) of origin. Ancestry testing is done in many different settings, including on an individual basis by consumers, research, and forensics.

Ancestry testing has been controversial, with news articles detailing myriad unexpected outcomes beyond discovering the origins of one’s ancestors, including having DNA shared with law enforcement, finding unexpected relatives, and privacy concerns.

Ancestry testing can also have impacts on communities. For example, in the early 2000s, a research study was done on the Havasupai Tribe in Northern Arizona. Ancestry data gathered suggested that the Havasupai people did not originate in Arizona. This analysis challenged their origin stories and could have potentially posed a threat to their claims to their native lands. More information on the Havasupai people and how their ancestry data was used, can be found in this article.

Legislation and Regulation

At this time, there are no federal laws or regulations pertaining to ancestry testing specifically, other than those federal laws and regulations related to all genetic testing.

Are you interested in learning what your state’s government or the federal government are currently proposing for either legislation or regulation? Check out Legislative/Tracking system for up-to-date information and subscribe to our Twitter channel to get the latest updates in your pocket.

Policy Positions

Organizations working within the genetics community (national genetic organizations, advocacy organizations, etc.) have published positions on ancestry testing. Explore these position statements below.


Position Statements by Organizations
Ancestry Testing Statement
American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG)
Ancestry Genetic Testing Direct-to-Consumer Testing
November 13, 2008