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Sending clinical samples

Updated: Mar 26

The home DNA test procedure requires participants to return their samples by postal services. Depending on your country, the procedures may be different, but generally you will have no difficulty in returning saliva samples. They can be slipped into an envelope and sent as a simple document.

Conversely, for tests requiring the sending of a blood sample, the shipping requirements become more complicated.

A blood sample is considered a clinical sample. It must therefore be sent by transport companies authorizing it such as DHL or Fedex. In addition, the packaging must also follow shipping formalities in accordance with government regulations, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The purchase of a DNA test that requires a clinical sample must include equipment that complies with its regulations.

Clinical specimens are defined as non-infectious human or animal material! You therefore have the right to send blood and blood products intended for a laboratory and approved by the authorities.

Material for shipping a liquid clinical specimen:

  • You must use airtight containers, equipped with a perfectly secure closing system. If you place several fragile tubes in the same container, you must wrap them individually or separate them to prevent them from colliding.

  • Have absorbent materials, making sure to provide enough materials to absorb all the liquid contained in all the tubes. Among the absorbent materials accepted: cellulose wadding, cotton balls, super-absorbent bags and paper towels.

  • Be sure to return your samples with the outer cardboard packaging made available by the laboratory, to withstand normal transport conditions, without the risk of leakage of the contents in the event of vibrations, changes in temperature, humidity or pressure.

  • To comply with current IATA and ICAO regulations, be sure to affix the appropriate statement (“Human Sample Exempt” or “Animal Sample Exempt”) on the packaging or shipping label.

DNA samples are not hazardous materials!

Dangerous goods designate objects or substances likely to represent a risk to health, safety, public order or the environment. These products require appropriate packaging, the adoption of certain precautions during their handling and real expertise during their transport in order to deliver them to their destination in complete safety. In addition, the laboratory must hold an accredited professional account with the transport service allowing it to circulate materials considered hazardous.

What dangerous goods are supported?

There are nine classes of dangerous goods listed in 2 classes:

  • Dangerous goods accessible by the cabin crew during the flight. Like explosives, flammable liquids, corrosive substances… Dangerous goods inaccessible to cabin crew: Gas, radioactive materials, toxic and infectious materials

  • Blood samples are standardly registered in class 6.2 of infectious substances. But in some markets and under certain conditions can be perfectly supported by the transport company.

If you are unsure whether the contents of your shipment are considered dangerous goods, do not hesitate to ask the carrier to check the package's safety data sheet. If a UN or UN number is indicated, it is indeed a dangerous good.

In this case, it is required to mark the package of organic products with the designation: category B (UN 3373). The words "Organic product, category B" must appear in letters on the outer packaging, next to the diamond accompanied by the UN 3373 marking.

For a shipment to a foreign country, it is also imperative to attach the customs invoices with the transport label. Generally under the name “commercial invoice” the sender must provide as many copies as there are countries concerned by the delivery of the product.


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