Introducing Relative Finder: The Newest Feature from 23andMe

Get ready — there’s a whole new way to do genealogy.

You may have already heard about a new feature 23andMe is offering its customers, called Relative Finder. With the launch of our new Ancestry Edition, we wanted to tell you more about it.

Picture 210Don’t just settle for two branches of your family tree…

Relative Finder is a breakthrough feature that uses autosomal DNA to help you find relatives from all parts of your family tree. With Relative Finder, you can grow your family tree like never before, and discover relatives you never knew you had.

Relative Finder is available to people who buy the Ancestry or Complete Edition of the 23andMe service.

How is Relative Finder Different?

Until now, DNA genealogy tests could only tell you about a small part of your family tree, because they only used DNA from the Y chromosome and mitochondria. By using autosomal DNA, Relative Finder can trace any ancestor, no matter where they are in your family tree.

What’s so special about autosomal DNA? The autosomal chromosomes, which make up most of our DNA, have the unique property of randomly mixing in specific ways when passed down from parent to child. The result is that we are a mosaic of DNA segments that we inherited from our ancestors.

Picture 211…With Relative Finder, find relatives from all branches of your family tree!

To give an example of the benefits of using autosomal DNA for learning about your ancestors, let’s consider your four grandparents. When looking at the Y chromosome (if you are male), you can trace your lineage through your paternal grandfather. When looking at the mitochondria, you can trace your lineage through your maternal grandmother. But this is only half of your grandparents! By using autosomal DNA, you can trace the lineages through all four grandparents. Extending this back 10 generations, instead of two ancestors detectable via Y and mitochondria, autosomal DNA can give you access to over 1000 ancestors and their descendants.

Relative Finder in Action

Relative Finder takes advantage of autosomal DNA by looking for shared segments with other 23andMe customers, which indicate a common ancestor. We list your closest matches first, but also let you sort and filter on other criteria you find important. Interested in relatives living abroad, or a particular Y or mitochondrial haplogroup? We can help you find them.

Take your time — users with European ancestry often have more than 100 matches, and users with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry often have more than 1000! As the 23andMe database grows, you’re likely to get even more matches.

Once you’ve found an interesting match, you can take the next step and contact them directly. Go ahead: Introduce yourself to that fifth cousin who lives in Macedonia, or your ninth cousin who lives just down the street. With Relative Finder, you can discover more about your ancestry than you ever thought possible!

We Want You.

Up to now, we’ve been testing and tweaking Relative Finder extensively, both internally and with feedback from genealogy enthusiasts. Starting today, we are opening up that testing to all 23andMe customers who want the opportunity to experience Relative Finder. During the remainder of this beta period, participants can instantly contact any potential relatives also participating in the beta.

By participating in the Relative Finder Public Beta, you will get early access to this revolutionary new feature. In return, we hope that you will send us feedback, suggest improvements and — most importantly — share your success stories.

We hope you enjoy taking your family tree to a whole new level with Relative Finder. After all, you never know who you might find.


  • Dirk

    Hello 23andMe:

    Thank you very much for developing this exciting new feature: “Relative Finder.” I hope many people will want to explore their ancestry, and to reconnect with, maybe not too distant, relatives. Hopefully, wealthy people will form funds supporting the testing of people who can’t afford it.

    Also, the “Advanced Family Inheritance” feature is very useful, allowing us to easily locate the exact position of our shared “monochromosomal identical fragments” (MIRs).

    Overall, I am very positively impressed by your pace of innovation. :)

  • pamela johnson

    I am looking for a test that will verify my native american ancestry. Can you help me??

    If so how much?? and what do I need to do.

  • http://www.23andme.com ErinC

    While 23andMe cannot prove that at person is or is not Native American, our Native American Ancestry Finder can look for distinctive DNA signatures that indicate a Native American ancestor.

    Native American Ancestry Finder takes into account all of a person’s DNA, including their maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA and (if applicable) their paternally inherited Y chromosome DNA.

    Native American Ancestry Finder is a Lab feature that is available to customers who purchase either the Ancestry Edition ($399) or Complete Edition ($499) of our service. To learn more or purchase, visit our website at http://www.23andme.com.

    Learn how 23andMe works here : https://www.23andme.com/howitworks/

  • Carol Clark

    I am looking to find my biological birth mother, father and or two brothers

  • http://www.23andme.com ErinC

    Hi Carol,

    It is possible to find close relatives like a mother, father or sibling through Relative Finder.

    However, keep in mind the following:
    1) Relative Finder finds only people who are also 23andMe users. If the family members you seek are not 23andMe users, this tool won’t be of help. Of course, finding more distantly related relatives could eventually help you find the people you are looking for.
    2) To see matches with people predicted to be first cousins or closer, both you and the potential relative must have opted in to view close relatives. We do this because while for some people finding a close relative could be welcome news, for others it might be surprising or uncomfortable information.

  • Lisa

    Is it possible to import autosomal results from another test, e.g. Family Tree DNA, for the relative finder?

  • http://23andme C Dianne Thomas

    please let me know the cost of the relative finder – I believe that I have native Indian heritage and want to prove my ancestry for the last 400 or so years

  • http://www.23andme.com ErinC

    @Lisa:

    Unfortunately there is no way for you to import Family Tree DNA information into a 23andMe account.

    We do, however, offer a way for customers of the Ancestry.com DNA service to import their maternal and/or paternal ancestry results into a free 23andMe haplogroup account. More here: https://www.23andme.com/about/press/20080909a/

  • http://www.23andme.com ErinC

    @ C Dianne Thomas

    Relative Finder is a feature that comes with both the Ancestry Edition ($399) and the Complete Edition ($499) of the 23andMe service. To learn more or purchase, visit our website at http://www.23andme.com.

    While 23andMe cannot prove that at person is or is not Native American, our Native American Ancestry Finder can look for distinctive DNA signatures that indicate a Native American ancestor.

    Native American Ancestry Finder takes into account all of a person’s DNA, including their maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA and (if applicable) their paternally inherited Y chromosome DNA.

    Learn how 23andMe works here : https://www.23andme.com/howitworks/

  • Shirley

    I am interested in tracing my ancesters through your DNA testing. Since I am a female will I only be able to trace paternal lines by submitting a sample from a male relative (such as a brother) and paying an additional fee to have his DNA tested?

  • http://creatingmotherhood.com/ Calliope

    This weekend my Mother, my son, and I met a cousin we found on 23andme via the relative finder. She was in town for the weekend from Australia. We spent the day going over our genealogy and family trees and laughing about how our arms have the EXACT same kind of freckle patterns! So so so cool! We already have plans to meet again when she is in town in the fall.

  • http://www.23andme.com ErinC

    @ Shirley

    Pretty much. Since us females don’t have Y chromosomes, the only way to learn about our fathers’ lines is through a paternal male relative. See this blog post for more:
    http://spittoon.23andme.com/2008/05/07/whose-y-to-use-paternal-ancestry-for-ladies/

  • Asa

    What I you are from an orphanage in Russia and you have no records of anything. We looked my parents say they have no records.

    so can I still find who my parents were even if we don’t know what my last name and ect is?

  • http://www.23andme.com ErinC

    @ Asa

    Technically you could find your parents using Relative Finder. But a few things would have to come together all at once. First, your birth parents would need to also be 23andMe customers. Second, they would have to be participating in Relative Finder. And third, you and they would all have to set your Relative Finder settings to enable showing close relative matches (parents, siblings, etc.).

    Probably much more likely for you is that through Relative Finder you would find cousins of various closeness. Making contact with these people and sharing what you each know about your family histories could help you track down the family you wish to find.

  • Jim Box

    Is it possible to take your 23 and me information and import it directly into the ancestry.com data base. They have a way to do it manually… but need a guide as to how to do it

  • CarolineV

    My mother was adopted. I found her mother and the entire genealogy on her mother’s side, but I have never found her father (they were not married). He would not be living now so wouldn’t be part of the 23andme database. Would it be possible with my brother’s DNA to find out who my grandfather was, or at least determine a surname. I do know what state and town he was in. With even a surname, I might well be able to find out who he was from people in the community.

    Also, my brother wants to know about the privacy of his DNA information if he does this. What personal information is open for all the world to see in the database?

    • http://23andme.com Shwu

      Hi Caroline,

      It’s possible that your brother’s DNA could help uncover some clues about your maternal grandfather, though it’s not clear how much as it depends on whether anyone in the 23andMe is closely related enough or has enough genealogical details to fill in the relevant branches. Your own DNA could also help but again, one can’t say definitively beforehand whether you would find the piece you’re looking for.

      As far as privacy, you have complete control over your own genetic data and no one else can see any of it if you choose to 1) not share with anyone and 2) not participate in Relative Finder. If you participate in Relative Finder, matches will be able to see your haplogroups (a label designating your maternal lineage based on genetics and, if you’re a man, your paternal lineage) and your listed sex, but no other identifying information.

      Good luck!

  • CarolineV

    Thank you, that is very helpful. Now, I happen to think, I have a lock of my mothers hair that I took years ago before she died. Can a DNA test be done on that to find her paternal links? If so, where would one get this type of test done? Would this be better than my DNA test? Or would my DNA test add anything to the test done on her hair.

    • http://23andme.com Shwu

      Hi Caroline,

      There may be companies that test DNA from hair; we cannot comment on what services you should use. Your mother’s DNA would be best to help determine some information about her paternal lineage, but yours would also provide some (limited) information. But, there are no guarantees. Genealogy often requires quite a bit of luck!

  • Brian Stuy

    In the past, sibling DNA tests looked at 27 alleles and assigned a “probability” (for lack of a better word) of relationship. My understanding is that 23andMe’s test definitely determines whether two individuals are biologically related. Can you explain to me how that is done?

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