I received my MyHeritage DNA test in the mail after ordering it from Amazon for $75.
The MyHeritage test is cheaper than some other ancestry or family history DNA tests on the market.
(I also purchased an Ancestry.com test for $99 from Amazon. It arrived in the same shipment.)
Both my wife and I got MyHeritage tests, so we could take them together.
Important Things to Know Before You Start a MyHeritage DNA Test
Here are a few important things to note about the MyHeritage DNA test before I get to the “unboxing” and the step-by-step of how to complete your test.
First, the MyHeritage DNA test is focused on delivering you personalized genetic results to show your lineage. This can include the ethnic groups and the geographic origins of your ancestors.
In essence, the MyHeritage test will answer “Where in the world is your family from?”
For many people, this is an exciting possibility. Whether it is to confirm stories you’ve heard about your ancestors or to trace back your lineage to fill in “gaps” in what you may not now know, taking something as personal and scientific as your DNA to provide you these answers is fascinating.
It’s made at-home ancestry DNA kits one of the most popular holiday gifts in recent years. Millions of Americans have taken these tests and the industry is expected to reach $310 million in sales in 2022.
MyHeritage may not be quite as popular as Ancestry and 23andMe, but the company has been around since 2003. The data on their website says MyHeritage has 100 million users and has produced 43 million family trees.
Needless to say, I was excited to get the package from MyHeritage and unbox it to take my (and my wife’s) samples.
Here’s a step-by-step look at the process of taking a MyHeritage DNA test.
MyHeritage DNA Test Unboxing
The MyHeritage DNA test comes in a rectangular box. It’s actually more like 3 boxes, one on each side of the main box that holds the test.
You slide the two “side” boxes out to get to the middle.
The first step MyHeritage asks you to take before you do anything else is to activate your DNA kit. This reminder is printing on a card right on top when you open the box.
You can activate your MyHeritage kit by going to MyHeritageDNA.com/setup
The reason you have to activate your DNA kit as the first step is because MyHeritage needs to “link” the unique ID on the test kit you purchased to your own personal information.
I paused my unboxing and went right to MyHeritage.com to get an account setup. You have to register for a new account (unless for some reason you already have one, then just login).
Here’s a screenshot of the registration screen.
I entered in my sex, first and last name, year of birth and an email address and password to create the MyHeritage account.
One cool thing during the setup process of your online MyHeritage account is they offer an option to “build out your family tree”. This just means you can enter your parents’ names and birth years, as well as your grandparents’.
The information is then matched against their database to try and find a match to other data in the system. This is all available at no extra charge (unlike other tests that offer a family tree option, like Ancestry.com).
I entered my parents and grandparents information, and my grandpa on my mom’s side was in their system. I was able to add 57 people to my family tree with this one match. It’s cool to see, but for the moment I decided to just move on and not look at the data and connections of those 57 people.
Then, I returned to the box.
The next card I found inside the box was labeled “Instructions”. It has a bunch of flags from different countries on it. The important part of this step was the note that says “For best results, please do not eat, drink, chew gum, or smoke for 30 minutes before collecting your DNA sample.”
Good to know! My wife and I had just eaten lunch when we unboxed the DNA test, so we had to wait. We strategized to collect the samples later in the afternoon.
Here’s another look at the packaging, along with the Ancestry DNA kit we also purchased.
I continued unboxing the MyHeritage test. Included in the box are two clear plastic vials with red caps and a barcode on them. These plastic vials are where your sample will be stored and shipped to be processed.
MyHeritage’s collection of your DNA sample is done with a cheek swab.
Some DNA tests are different, and use a spit sample or even a blood test or sample. The MyHeritage kit includes two cheek swab “collection devices” from HydraFlock. They feel like something you’d see in a doctor’s office.
MyHeritage includes a pre-addressed padded envelope for you to mail in your samples to be processed. The MyHeritage test mailing envelope DOES NOT have postage included. You have to add your own stamp to cover the postage of mailing in the sample.
I thought this step was mildly annoying, given that I’d paid $75 for the kit. They couldn’t cover postage? The Ancestry.com test includes a pre-paid return envelope. Don’t forget your stamp!
The package includes a plastic back with a big “Biohazard” sticker on it. This is where you drop in your plastic vials before placing them into the envelope.
MyHeritage’s kit includes a folded cardboard set of instructions to complete your sample and send it in. There are 8 steps to complete. Each step is listed out with a corresponding number and a simple graphic to help explain.
I was able to quickly read over the 8 steps without much confusion. Before it arrived, I didn’t know that MyHeritage used a cheek swab. The process is pretty simple, though.
The one step that might be confusing for people is this.
After swabbing your cheek, you have to “break off” the sample area from the collection tool and into the vial. This is step 4 of the process.
It states: “Open one vial and insert the swab-end down. Once the swab touches the bottom of the vial, break the swab against the inside edge of the vial at the marked black line, leaving the swab-end inside the liquid in the vial. “
As you can see here.
That step seemed confusing when I first read it, but in practice it was not hard. I placed each swab with my DNA sample from my cheek into the vial and easily snapped it off.
Let’s walk through each step to help you better understand how it works.
MyHeritage DNA Test Kit Step-by-Step
Let’s go through each step in the MyHeritage DNA test kit.
Step 1. Activate your MyHeritage kit.
The first step to take, and the one I took, was to pull out my computer (You can just as easily use your phone) and got www.myheritageDNA.com/setup, as I outlined above. You enter your basic personal information (Name, gender, birth year, birth country) and create a username and password.
There are some terms to agree to, and then you get the aforementioned options to add in your parents and grandparents to extend your family tree.
Step 2. Open the test kit and lay out the swabs and vials. Don’t open them yet.
You get 2 swab tools inside of bags and 2 vials to store your samples in. Pull those out and double check that the number on the vials matches, and is the number you used when creating your profile on MyHeritage.com.
Step 3. Take your DNA sample using the cheek swab.
In Step 3, you take your DNA sample. Open the plastic bag for the first cheek swab tool. Be sure not touch anything with it. Place it inside your mouth up against one side of your cheek and rotate it for 30-60 seconds.
I used the stopwatch on my phone to make sure I went for about 40 seconds.
Step 4. Open one vial and insert the swab inside. Break off the swab against the edge of the vial.
Be sure to push the swab down into the vial during this step, and use a quick bending motion to snap off the piece in your hand to leave the swab in the vial. Then place the cap back on the vial and close it tightly.
Step 6. Repeat the process using the second swab, swabbing your other cheek for 30-60 seconds.
Self-explanatory here, swab the other cheek using the 2nd swab included in the kit. Then place the swab into the 2nd vial as you did before, press it down in there, and snap it off. Then close the 2nd vial using the cap. Remember to close it tightly.
Step 7. Place both vials into the plastic bag provided. Close the bag. Place the bag in the mailing envelope provided and secure it.
Ensure the caps on the vials are closed tightly. Then place both vials on the cotton pad inside the plastic bag provided. Close the ziplock on the bag, place the bag in the envelope provided and seal the envelope.
Step 8. Place a stamp and return address on the envelope. Place the envelope into USPS mailbox.
A few simple final steps. Write your return address on the mailing envelope provided. Then you have to put your own stamp (regular postage) on the envelope. Then place it in the mail.
The envelope is pretty small and fit nicely in our “outgoing mail” at our community mailbox.
As mentioned, it is kind of annoying that MyHeritage doesn’t cover the minimal cost of postage. I guess that’s why their test is cheaper than some of the others on the market.
Test results should arrive in 3-4 weeks.
In the meantime, you can login to your MyHeritage account and play with the family tree data provided!