Common Health QuestionsBack
Can I get a paternity test on the NHS?
No. Paternity tests aren't available on the NHS. You'll need to pay for a paternity test from an accredited laboratory, with consent from someone with parental responsibility.
If you're considering a paternity test, it's important to think carefully about the issues involved, for example:
- whether testing is in the child's best interests
- the impact of the test result, including its effect on family relationships
If the result is unexpected or not the result you want, it can affect everyone involved for the rest of their lives.
It's a good idea to discuss the issues with your GP. They can help you consider what's involved and may be able to arrange counselling.
If you do decide to have a paternity test, you will have to pay for it. The cost varies depending on the test provider you use. It's important to use a company with high quality service and standards.
DNA and paternity tests
A child inherits DNA from both its parents. Paternity tests can identify whether a man is the father of a child by looking at DNA from:
- the man
- the child
- the mother
All 3 individuals - the man, the child and the mother - provide a sample containing their DNA so it can be analysed accurately. The sample can be cheek cells from inside the mouth or a blood sample.
Some companies offer paternity tests that only require samples from the child and the man (sometimes called motherless testing). Results from tests like this are less accurate.
Consent for a paternity test
Each person must give written consent to their sample being taken and tested.
For a child under 16, a person with parental responsibility may give consent on their behalf.
If a child or young person can understand the issues involved, their opinion should be taken into account when deciding whether the test is in their best interests.
GOV.UK has more information about parental responsibility.
Court-directed paternity test
If a paternity test is ordered by a court for legal reasons, the court will expect the samples to be taken under strict conditions by a test provider accredited by the Ministry of Justice.
Read a list of accredited testing laboratories on GOV.UK.
Child Support Agency (CSA) (or Child Maintenance Service) paternity test
If the Child Support Agency (CSA) needs a DNA test as evidence to confirm whether someone is a child's parent, they will tell you which laboratory to use.
The fee for arranging a CSA test is currently £239.40. The test fees will be higher if more than one child is involved. If you're not the child's parent the fee will be refunded.
Read more about getting a DNA test on GOV.UK.
Read the answers to more questions about NHS services and treatments.
No. Paternity tests are not available on the NHS.