Why is FamilySearch GEDCOM important?

Genealogical (family tree) data is important! It contains significant information that links family data together in an electronic format. With FamilySearch GEDCOM, your users will be able to import, export, preserve, maintain, and share their data.

How do I create and use a FamilySearch GEDCOM file?

The FamilySearch GEDCOM specification is used by genealogical software products to create a file that can be imported and exported by other programs to assist in sharing information. A GEDCOM file is created by using the procedures specified by the genealogical software product used. Software companies provide support for their own products, and the way they implement the GEDCOM specification may vary, including which version they support.

Are GEDCOM files still being used by FamilySearch?

FamilySearch Contributors can submit their trees to FamilySearch Genealogies using GEDCOM files to make information available to help other researchers. These submissions remain in the submitter’s control, and are preserved indefinitely, to review, edit, or remove as seen fit.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints copyrighted the first GEDCOM standard in 1984, and has renewed that copyright in various forms since then. The current copyright notice can be found on the second page of current PDF.

How can I use the published specifications?

You may refer to and build software informed by the specification freely. If you wish to copy text from the specification itself, please see the license described on the second page of current PDF and available in full in the github repository.

GEDCOM v5.5.1 was copyrighted in 2019, but I thought it was released in 1999?

A draft was released in 1999 and was widely circulated, but before it was made an official release, FamilySearch began work on unrelated software projects. Without a new released standard, and recognizing the advantages of 5.5.1 over 5.5, many in the genealogical community implemented 5.5.1 despite its draft status. In 2019, FamilySearch officially released 5.5.1 without the draft notice.

Can I use FamilySearch GEDCOM to share my family tree with someone else?

Yes, this is the primary purpose of FamilySearch GEDCOM. Sharing a file should work, assuming you both use a software product that supports FamilySearch GEDCOM. However, most software products add various extensions to GEDCOM to support their own export features, and it is possible that other software products might lack those features. In addition, extensions added that are outside of the GEDCOM specification are sometimes not imported correctly by other software products, even other products that have similar features, so some special features might be lost.

What’s the difference between FamilySearch GEDCOM and GEDCOM-X?

GEDCOMX has a distinct family history data format. It was also created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to address some perceived shortcomings in the original GEDCOM Version 5.5. GEDCOMX is more closely related to the FamilySearch Family Tree’s internal data model and is widely implemented by software that interoperates with FamilySearch Family Tree. However, GEDCOM remains more common as a file format for sharing files between software products. See more at GEDCOMX.

What’s New?

Because information about your family is important, FamilySearch is committed to the continuation of GEDCOM. FamilySearch GEDCOM version 7.0, announced at RootsTech Connect 2021, will allow your users to manage and share information more efficiently. FamilySearch GEDCOM version 7.0 incorporates the added ability to include valuable photos and other files when they download a FamilySearch GEDCOM 7.0 file from your software product. All of this information will be packaged in a Zip format called GEDZip. Future updates to FamilySearch GEDCOM will continue to expand the capabilities of the GEDZip file format.

This renewed commitment to GEDCOM will increase the use and exchange of genealogical data through file transfers. Preservation options will increase, along with many other valuable services. Barriers to entry will be lowered allowing for more innovators to participate. Software companies and developers will be able to address the needs of their users that may be restricted by the current GEDCOM specification so that changes can happen according to the collective voice of the marketplace. All of this will directly benefit those who rely on genealogical software products to organize and store their family tree information.

What is GEDZip?

GEDZip is an added feature of FamilySearch GEDCOM version 7.0. A standard Zip archive file is formatted to combine existing family tree data with external images and other files. The GEDZip file can be unzipped after transfer, making the genealogical data and associated external files available together in a different software product. The exact procedures for downloading or uploading external files will vary according to the individual software product’s implementation of the FamilySearch GEDCOM specification. The file extension for a GEDZip file is: “.gdz”.