Creating Unique AncestryDNA Accounts

Diahan Southard

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AncestryDNA now requires every test-taker to have an account. For those managing relatives’ DNA tests, it sounds like a pain and maybe a deal-breaker. Here’s why you shouldn’t panic.

My 14-year-old, like many teenagers, is afflicted with a case of myopic-itis. At least, that is what I am calling it. You will recognize this condition: the ability to see every situation only from your own point of view. This is of course, how everyone of us reacts to every new situation.

Changes to AncestryDNA accounts

AncestryDNA recently caused an attack of myopic-itis when they announced a change to their policy on how DNA tests are registered. Previously, you could register anyone’s test under your own account. Say you were gathering the test for an aged aunt or disinterested cousin. You handle everything from the order to the test registration to handling all correspondence. Your aunt or cousin merely needed to spit in the tube.

However, effective July 18, 2017, that has changed. Each person who takes an AncestryDNA test will have to have their very own account at AncestryDNA.

A natural reaction is to immediately reject this as a terrible idea that will certainly slow—if not halt—your efforts to gather the needed genetic information from your less-than-enthusiastic relatives. Your myopic-itis flares up and threatens to cause you to throw up your hands in frustration and just forget the whole thing.

But don’t! Really, all that is changed is that you have to take just one more step in the administration of the DNA test for your friend or relative: creating them their own AncestryDNA account. Then, they can assign you as the Manager of their DNA kit. Doing so allows their DNA results to show up in your Ancestry account, just as if you yourself had registered the test under your account. Viola!

Why unique Ancestry accounts are good

Now, why would Ancestry decide to so inconvenience your life with another step? Well, to protect the rights of the cousin and the aunt that you are asking to take the test. It is that simple. Not that you would, but if the results are in your account, you can delete them, you can limit their access to them, in short, you have ultimate control. Causing each test to have its own account tries to put that control back in the hands of the test taker.

One of the criticisms that has come up from this announcement is that Ancestry is doing this just to make more people buy subscriptions to Ancestry. As stated above, I don’t think this is their primary motivation. In fact, a blogger in the UK, Debbie Kennett, suggested that it may be partially in reaction to a new law in the UK which, starting next year, will require this personal access for Ancestry to continue selling tests there.

The bright side of change

But even if getting more subscribers was their primary motivation for the change, how is more people looking up records on Ancestry a bad thing?! Think of it this way: If you look at your cousin and say, “I got this. Don’t worry about anything. I will do it all.” Then they will let you, and they won’t take any ownership of the process or the results. However, if you say, “I have created a login for you at Ancestry so you can view your own results. I will also be able to see them in my account. I would love to go over them with you, if you are interested. But you can go in anytime and look around.” Then wouldn’t it be great if they really did that and then they got so interested that they decided it was worth paying Ancestry to access records and they actually started helping you do research?!

DNA is one of the biggest hooks we have to get our friends and family interested in family history. I think this change is just one more way that we can spread our love of family history with our family, not to mention protect their privacy and their rights.

In addition to Debbie Kennett’s post I mentioned above, make sure to read the official post by Ancestry, as well as this post at this post at The DNA Geek and another at DNA Sleuth, which address some of the common questions you may have about how to actually make happen.

Explore your results at AncestryDNA

AncestryDNA offers tons of great DNA tools to help you make new discoveries about your family. Learn more about how to navigate your match list and make the most of your test results with our AncestryDNA Tour. The AncestryDNA Tour includes over 90 minutes of video instruction divided into 16 different segments, and comes with a printable, interactive workbook, so you can apply what you learn to your very own tree. With the Tour, you’ll be an AncestryDNA pro in no time!

Tell me more about the AncestryDNA Tour!

Originally published July 2017 on

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<a href="" target="_self">Diahan Southard</a>

Diahan Southard

As founder and CEO of Your DNA Guide, Diahan Southard has been teaching people how to find family history answers in their DNA for several years, and she's been in the genetic genealogy field since its infancy. Diahan teaches internationally, writes for popular magazines, consults with leading testing companies, is author of Your DNA Guide–The Book, and producer of Your DNA Guide–the Academy, an online learning experience.



    Will consent be grandfathered in for accounts currently in the system? What about kits managed by A for dead relatives, B, C, D?

    • Diahan Southard

      Kay, yes, any accounts that were in the system before the change will stay the same. Any managing that had been arranged before can stay. This is for new kits moving forward.


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