GEDCOM files (*.ged) Print button

gedcomGEDCOM is a widely used format for storing genealogy information. My Family Tree has support for importing and exporting GEDCOM files.

Transferring from other genealogy software

The easiest way to transfer information from other genealogy software to My Family Tree is via the GEDCOM format. My Family Tree supports all essential GEDCOM tags defined in the GEDCOM specification.  The original GEDCOM file is not modified during import.

Importing a GEDCOM file

Fig 1. Importing a GEDCOM file.

Transferring to other genealogy software

The easiest way to transfer information from My Family Tree to other genealogy software is via the GEDCOM format. You can select which individuals to export and optionally include any linked multimedia files.

Exporting a GEDCOM file

Fig 2. Exporting a GEDCOM file.

Selecting people to include

Fig 3. Selecting people to include.


You can use privacy options to remove personal details of living people or people who have been marked as private within My Family Tree.  Selecting the "Hide living people" option prevents export of all information about living people apart from their surname. Selecting the "Hide private information" option prevents export of any information marked as private.

GEDCOM versions and character encoding

It is strongly recommended that you use the default GEDCOM 5.5.1 version and UTF-8 encoding options which will ensure maximum compatibility with other genealogy software. In very specific circumstances, advanced users may wish to choose other GEDCOM version and encoding options. Be sure to have a good case for doing this and ensure you are fully aware of the potential for information getting lost in the transfer process.

Ensuring successful import

GEDCOM has been around for over 25 years and is still commonly used today as an almost universal method of exchanging genealogy information between different genealogy software. 

However many GEDCOM files do not follow the GEDCOM specification and often contain all sorts of ambiguities and customisations to work around limitations of such an old standard.  The result is that some information can inevitably get lost in the transfer.

Deciding whether the problem lies with a particular piece of software or a given GEDCOM file can be extremely difficult.  If a GEDCOM file is not importing correctly, please use our GEDCOM Validator tool to check for potential problems in the GEDCOM file.  Fixing these will ensure that the file can be imported successfully by My Family Tree.  Other potential issues encountered with importing GEDCOM files are summarised below.

Character encoding

When importing GEDCOM files My Family Tree will examine and detect the encoding of your file if it conforms to one of the 4 permitted encoding formats for GEDCOM. If your GEDCOM file is not encoded in one of these formats you can manually override the encoding type to select one which works successfully for your file.


Each record in My Family Tree is assigned a unique identifier.  This is a 32 character alphanumeric string which is guaranteed to be unique.  If the GEDCOM file uses the _UID tag, any valid _UID tag value will be used as the record's ID in My Family Tree.  You can search for individuals using this value in any search box in My Family Tree.  When GEDCOM files are exported, My Family Tree supports the _UID tag and exports the ID + checksum as a 36 character alphanumeric string.

Text concatenation

Some GEDCOM files do not follow the specification with regards to the concatenation of long text values.  Such files split long text values at the end of words which causes spaces to be lost.  If you import a GEDCOM file and longer text is periodically missing spaces, select the "Correct text concatenation" option during import.

Referenced files

GEDCOM files usually only contain links to files (e.g. photos). To successfully import all of these files in to My Family Tree place a copy of these files in same folder as the GEDCOM file or at the location referenced in the file.  Any binary large objects (BLOB) will automatically be decoded and imported.


My Family Tree can import all GEDCOM compliant dates. Date phrases or otherwise ambiguous / invalid dates are imported as a text date.  The most common invalid dates are of the from dd/mm/yyyy or mm/dd/yyyy.  These are not valid GEDCOM dates, owing to the fact that there are often multiple possible interpretations of dates.  For example 03/12/1995 - is this 3rd December or 12th March?

Living status

Often GEDCOM death tags are missing if nothing is known about an individual's death. During import, My Family Tree will mark people who have no death, cremation or burial tag as living unless their age is greater than 80. You can specify the life expectancy of living people in Options.