Specimens collected for official purposes must be provably authentic. That is easily accomplished by careful supervision of the specimen collection process and documentation thereof. The latter is called the chain of custody and so, not surprisingly, we often refer to these as “chain” tests in the DNA testing industry. Whereas Home tests are generally unsupervised so there is no way to prove that the name on the test report is actually the person that was tested.

You may be surprised to learn that the AABB permits specimens collected for official purposes to be self-collected, that is, the services of a 3rd party specimen collector are not required. What is required is that the specimen collection process be witnessed by a competent individual and that the testing supplies never be in the possession of any of the tested parties either before or after collection. This is common sense so we won’t belabor the point.

We include precise and easy to follow instructions for performing the specimen collection along with carefully sealed testing supplies. In fact, we provide two copies: one for the purchaser and one for the witness. What must be emphasized here is that the ship-to address MUST be that of the competent witness. This means that you must select your witness prior to placing your order. We offer suggestions for selecting a competent witness here however, as always, we recommend that you seek the advice of an attorney licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where your case will be heard.

The technical aspects of sample collection are the same regardless of the purpose of the test. We provide written instructions on how to conduct a simple Buccal (cheek) swab in the specimen collection kits or by email if you are using your own testing supplies (home tests only). The basic procedure does not differ between Home and Legal tests: Insert swab in mouth, rub cheek 10-20 times, let swab dry, place it in an envelope, then seal. Simple stuff.

The AABB does not permit most alternative sources of DNA, such as used tissues and toothbrushes, for Legal tests because it would difficult, if not impossible, to prove the chain of custody. Postmortem specimens from deceased persons are permitted and we will provide the necessary forms to establish chain-of-custody.

In our opinion, the Philippines and other ASEAN countries would be better served if the AABB did not require laboratories to put words on the test report regarding events which occurred outside the laboratory. In particular, specimen collection. We say this for two reasons: (1) Laboratories are held to high standards for their actions as they should be and simply cannot speak with authority about events that occur elsewhere and (2) AABB’s ideas about what constitutes a competent witness may conflict with local standards thus making test participants serve two masters.

AABB accreditation assures that our laboratories adhere to very high standards as to the processing of your DNA specimens. Whether DNA, fingerprints, fibers or bullet fragments, proper chain of custody is essential for evidence to be reliable. It is clearly the right and responsibility of each country to create and implement rules of evidence that they believe are fair and just and for the AABB to respect the authority of each country to do so.