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How to do a paternity test in France?

Updated: Mar 26


Is it legal to do a paternity test in France?

Contrary to beliefs, paternity tests are not prohibited in France. It is therefore entirely possible and legal to use the DNA of a father and a child to enable genetic identification, also known as a genetic fingerprint. However, it is important to understand that the use of DNA is highly regulated in France, and all requests must be authorized by a judicial decision.

What does French law say about paternity testing?

According to articles 16-11 and 16-12 of the Civil Code, identification can only be sought in the execution of an investigative measure ordered by the judge hearing an action seeking either the establishment or the contestation of a filiation link.

Genetic analysis can only be carried out by laboratories authorized to perform identifications through genetic fingerprints, which have been approved under conditions set by decree in the Council of State.

Thus, it is conceivable and entirely legal to conduct a paternity test in France during a judicial or administrative procedure with a laboratory on French soil. The analysis will allow you to compare the DNA of the father, the mother, and the child to determine the filiation link.

Can a paternity test be done outside of a legal procedure?

Yes, it is also possible to conduct a paternity test at home from France without going through a legal or administrative procedure. This analysis is considered recreational and takes place exclusively within the private sphere of the family circle.

To perform a paternity test from France, you need to order from laboratories located abroad, such as in Belgium. Generally, the order is placed through the laboratory's website, allowing you to collect samples at home.

The procedure for a home paternity test:

Receive the testing kit at home

Collect saliva samples following the instructions

Send the samples by mail

Receive the results by email within 3 to 5 days

The home paternity test has no legal value in France. Despite the result being as reliable as a legal test, a private analysis will not allow you to prove the filiation link between a father and a child before a judge in France.

Is it illegal to do a paternity test at home?

Since the implementation of the bioethics law, individuals can only use their DNA within the context of a legal procedure. Therefore, it is still considered illegal to perform a paternity test at home through private laboratories.

But what is the reality?

Today in France, nothing is done to prevent and control individuals who want to undergo a paternity test for private purposes. The order can be placed online to receive a kit at home before sending the samples abroad.

Moreover, it is not uncommon that, during the preparation of a legal case, the participants' lawyers advise them to undergo DNA tests in advance with private laboratories before initiating lengthy and costly procedures in France. Although the result has no legal value, it can still serve as supporting evidence in the legal case. Upon request, the judge may still order a new analysis in France.

After more than a decade of laboratories offering genetic services in France and no convictions related to the analyses, no conclusive decision has been reached in France.

Professionals and associations are mobilizing to advocate for the legalization of genetic tests in France, as an increasing number of people want to undergo testing and believe that access to information about their DNA is a right that everyone can have, whether out of curiosity or for genealogical purposes.

Can one do a paternity test abroad?

After examining the specifics of French legislation, we can observe that, in principle, nothing prohibits a French national from undergoing a DNA test in a foreign country.

Therefore, there is nothing preventing the purchase of a DNA test in a country where the legislation allows it. One can then return to France with the results to assert them since the scientific method related to accreditation is the same for all laboratories. DNA Kit

What can happen if I order a DNA test from France?

Most often, the penalty will not occur because customs do not focus on intercepting sample kits to determine whether your situation involves a legal test or not. As a result, the possibilities of prosecution are almost nonexistent because the investigative procedure requires too much involvement for sanctions that can often be acquitted.

Thus, the seizure by customs services of a kit addressed to your location may, in rare cases, lead to a simple fine.

In practice, DNA tests ordered from France or conducted abroad do not face strict scrutiny from the French state. Since this exception in Europe may prompt the state to possibly revise bioethics laws soon to align with the standards applied in all neighboring territories with France.

Moreover, today, it is very common to be directed towards a private test to be done outside of France before initiating a legal procedure on French soil. Indeed, the speed of the process and the more affordable cost allow for establishing a filiation link before starting procedures that can be lengthy and costly with the administration. You can use this document as information but not as proof since it was analyzed abroad. Of course, in this case, you did not do it on French soil but during your trip to the respective country.

How to do a paternity test?

A paternity test can be conducted by comparing the DNA of a father with that of a child to establish a filial relationship. To do this, the laboratory requests a saliva sample from both the father and the child to compare their genetic profiles.

The paternity DNA test allows for a highly accurate determination of the biological relationship. The analysis defines a negative result with a reliability of 100% and a positive result with a reliability of 99%.

The consent of one parent is sufficient to perform the test if the child is still a minor. Additionally, the mother's DNA is not mandatory for the analysis.

If the child is not yet born, and the mother is still pregnant, there is the option of a prenatal paternity test that can be conducted during pregnancy. For more information, visit our page: Prenatal Paternity Test.


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