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Envelopes and dna testing

Scientists have been able to extract DNA from envelopes and stamps for some time. But it's been difficult, expensive and time consuming. Results have been used for forensic crime solving rather than genealogy. We are working to optimise our processes to extract sufficient quantity and quality DNA from envelopes from your loved ones.

We do not guarantee we will be able to extract DNA from the envelope/s our clients provide. Some people do not have sufficient DNA in their saliva. If the item has been exposed to moisture or sunlight the DNA will be impacted. The older the letter, the more difficult it will be, as DNA may degrade over time. You also can't even be sure who you think sealed the item did indeed lick the envelope, seal or stamp. There is also a very real risk of contamination of the DNA after years of handling by others. You can minimise this risk by using surgical gloves when handling your item.

Clients are welcome in the first instance to email a photo of the envelope, postcard with stamp/s or aerogramme (front and back) to us at We will do a visual assessment of the item. If it appears suitable for attempting to extract DNA, we will notify you via email. We will ask you to store the item in a paper bag in a cool, dry place until we are ready to process an order from you.

We do not always extract sufficient DNA from every item we test. You can view examples of items we've tested on our Examples page. From these examples you will see there is no way to determine 100% from a visual inspection whether the item will yield sufficient DNA - we have success and failure on items that appear pretty much identical in age and condition. Some items simply do not have sufficient DNA to enable progressing to the step of creating the file you need for genealogical purposes. You should be aware of this prior to placing an order with us.

You will pay for the extraction process regardless of whether we are able to progress your item. We will refund to you the remaining amount you have paid (with a handling charge for postage) if we are unsuccessful in obtaining sufficient quantity and quality DNA. More information is available about this on our buy page. As there will be some envelopes and stamps that are not successful in yielding sufficient DNA, we do not seek to make a profit on the extraction process. We charge you only the base price for this service. 

The funds will be returned to you through the payment method you used. Please note that if you are not making a payment in Australian dollars, the funds will be returned to you at the exchange rate applied by your payment gateway applicable on the day the funds are returned.

We will return your remaining envelope, postcard or aerogramme to you after testing is complete, unless you request otherwise.

Click here to check out our envelopes FAQs.