You have done a DNA test in a genetic genealogy laboratory (FamilyTree DNA, 23andMe, Ancestry.com, LivingDNA, MyHeritage, Igenea, 24genetics…). However, you only have access to the database of people who have been tested by the same laboratory. Your goal is to find as many genetic cousins as possible. Do you need to do a test in every genetic genealogy lab? No, you can transfer your data for free, but not to all laboratories. Here is a summary to help you.
Find the largest number of genetic cousins
You did a DNA test in a genetic genealogy lab hoping to find family members, but you were disappointed with the results. You only have one close match or genetic matches that are too distant to be usable.
Some of these genetic cousins will have transferred their data to GedMatch, but the majority, unaware of this alternative, will leave their data with the same genetic laboratory.
Unless you are Croesus, you are not going to buy yourself a genetic test in every laboratory. You can do the test in the lab with the largest database, but if one of your genetic cousins has chosen another lab you still won't find them.
To maximize your chances, you need to transfer your genetic data to as many genetic labs as possible.
Free genetic data transfers in general
With the exception of Ancestry.com, all genetic genealogy laboratories accept some raw data transfers from other laboratories. However, they have ulterior motives for doing this. All genetic genealogy laboratories sell your genetic data to medical laboratories for scientific research. This data is anonymous, with no indication of your name or contact information. So it's in their best interest to have as many DNA profiles as possible.
The MyHeritage case
From 1 December 2018, MyHeritage will charge for the transfer of raw data from other genetic genealogy laboratories. If you have transferred your data before this fateful date, you can and will continue to access ethnicity results, DNA matches and your genetic cousins. However, if you download after 1 December 2018 you will have to pay to access this information. The price for this has not yet been disclosed.
The LivingDNA case
You can transfer your data to LivingDNA, but for the moment you won't get any results. In theory, it will be possible to access your genetic cousins from the summer of 2018. As part of the One Family One World project, you can transfer your data from other laboratories.
LivingDNA uses your data to enrich its database, notably to improve its mapping of your European origins. Their objective is to be able to indicate regional origins for all European countries, the major flaw of other laboratories. Their program will last five years.
You will need to buy their test to access their database. For the time being, if you transfer your data you will not have access to any information. This is why I have excluded them from the comparison chart below.
The 24Genetics case
You can transfer your data from FamilyTree DNA and 23andMe to 24Genetics BUT it will cost you. You'll have to pay 49 euros to access your ethnicity estimates, without the option to connect to a genetic-cousin database. This is why I have excluded them from the comparison chart below.
The Wegene case
Transferring your genetic data to Wegene does not give you access to their database. This Asian laboratory has an English version, but the language barrier would soon become apparent when communicating with users from this continent.
On the other hand, you will have access to more accurate ethnicity results regarding Asian origins, since their reference panel is more elaborate. This can be useful for adoptees of Asian descent seeking information about their ethnic origins. This is why I have included them in the comparison chart below.
A table of data transfers between genetic genealogy laboratories
From left to right, we can see that FamilyTree DNA accepts transfers from 23andMe and Ancestry.com.
And on the next line, that 23andMe does not accept transfers from FamilyTree DNA and Ancestry.
And so on for every genetic genealogy lab.
The exception is Ancestry.com, which does not accept any data transfer from other laboratories.
| ||FamilyTree DNA||23andMe||Ancestry.com||MyHeritage||Igenea||Genographic||Wegene|
You'll find a more detailed table, including different labs' versions, on DNAexplained (thanks to Manu Manou of Facebook for the info :-)).
Here are links to the genetic genealogy labs you can transfer your raw data to:
Upload your data to FamilyTree DNA
Upload your data to MyHeritage (charges from 1 December 2018)
Upload your data to WeGene
Upload your data to LivingDNA (currently no access to results or their database)
Upload your data to 24genetics (charges)
Latest to offer a beta test: Geneanet. See article.
The picture is likely to evolve as the genetic genealogy laboratories change their commercial policies. MyHeritage began selling genetic tests in France as recently as April 2018. Who knows, Ancestry may one day allow itself to do the same. In the meantime, here's my tip on how to order an Ancestry test in France.