Transfer DNA Results or Retest at Family Tree DNA?

confusionThe recent announcement by that they are discontinuing their Y and mtDNA products and associated data bases, combined with the opportunity to transfer your Y and autosomal Y DNA results to Family Tree DNA has raised the question of whether it’s best to transfer or retest.  Let’s look at the various options, pluses and minuses, for each product involved.  As it turns out, one size does not fit all.  In other words, it depends…


The cost of an autosomal test transfer to Family Tree DNA is $69 and you can transfer either’s autosomal test results or 23andMe’s v3 results to Family Tree DNA for that price.

However, the cost of retesting at Family Tree DNA, utilizing the Father’s Day sale, and yes, it’s valid for females too, not just men, is just $79.

So, should you transfer existing results or retest?

  1. If you retest at Family Tree DNA, you’ll have the added benefit of having your DNA archived there, available to you for other tests in the future. Archiving is free and is part of the service.
  2. If you retest at Family Tree DNA, you don’t have to deal with downloading files from Ancestry or 23andMe and then uploading them to Family Tree DNA. If you’re not a techie, this is a benefit.
  3. Ancestry has never been known for quality, so in terms of Ancestry, for a $10 difference, I would certainly retest.
  4. At 23andMe, if you tested either early (the v2 chip) or since November/December of 2013 (the v4 chip) you have no choice but to retest, because the results aren’t compatible.

In a nutshell, for a $10 difference, my vote would be to retest, unless, of course, the person isn’t available to retest then by all means, transfer the results.

If you’re going to retest, do it now while the price is still $79.  The sale ends on 6-17-2014.

Don’t forget, the Big Y, which is a nearly full sequence of the Y chromosome, is also on sale for Father’s Day for only $595.  The newly announced SNP matching in addition to the regular marker matching promises to add a second tool to those who are trying to determine family lineages.  I suggest that someone from each of your primary family surname lines take this test.  Mutations are being found every 90-150 years so this test holds great promised in combination with regular STR (37, 67 and 111 marker) testing.


You can transfer your Ancestry Y DNA results to Family Tree DNA for $19, and then upgrade to the Family Tree DNA standard marker test for another $39, for a total of $58.

If you transfer Ancestry’s 33 marker results, the $58 upgrade price buys you an upgrade to the 25 marker test.  If you transfer Ancestry’s 46 marker test, the upgrade buys you a standard 37 marker test.  Both of these upgrades include DNA matching to other participants.  The $19 transfer alone, does not, just the ability to join projects.

The standard 37 marker test at Family Tree DNA today costs $169 without the transfer, so transferring is definitely the way to go on Y DNA.  You save $111.  Plus, with the upgrade, you will have the added benefit of having your DNA archived at Family Tree DNA.

For Y DNA, a transfer with the upgrade is definitely your best value.  Don’t forget to do this before Sept. 5th because the Ancestry data base disappears that day.  In fact, the sooner, the better, because some of Ancestry’s DNA data base features have already been discontinued.

Mitochondrial DNA

Ancestry’s mtDNA test results weren’t compatible with Family Tree DNA’s, so you don’t have a transfer option.  The mtDNA plus at Family Tree DNA which provides you with your haplogroup and matches in the HVR1+HVR2 regions is $59, but the full sequence mitochondrial DNA test is only $199.  The full sequence test provides you with fully sequenced mitochondrial DNA results, about 10 times more locations than the HVR1+HVR2 regions, a full haplogroup designation and matching at the highest level.  It’s definitely the best value and then you’re done with mtDNA because there are no upgrades beyond the full sequence.

My recommendation would be to purchase the Full Sequence test for $199 as the best value.

The Net-Net

In short, here’s what we have:

  • Autosomal – you can retest at Family Tree DNA for $79, $10 more than the $69 transfer price, which has several benefits.
  • Y DNA – the transfer plus upgrade for $58 is your best value, saving you over $100.
  • Mitochondrial DNA – there is no transfer option, so retesting is necessary.

Click here to order.

48 thoughts on “Transfer DNA Results or Retest at Family Tree DNA?

  1. Roberta,

    I don’t disagree with your recommendation to retest atDNA, but for what it’s worth, for $5 you can order a “blank kit” from FTDNA and send it back to store your sample in their refrigerator. This is worth doing for elderly relatives even if you can’t afford to test them now. Or to stockpile more DNA in FTDNA’s fridge for future tests.

    Frankly, after losing a sample for a now-deceased relative to Ancestry’s recent decision to dump all their Y-DNA samples, I’m not inclined to trust any of them and will likely collect more than one sample of any elderly relative’s DNA and keep one in my own refrigerator in addition to sending one to FTDNA, Ancestry or 23andMe.


    • Dear Don,
      How do you order a blank kit on FTDNA? I’ve looked on the site and haven’t been able to find that option. Do you have to contact someone specific?

      • Kathryn,
        No, they don’t advertise the option. As I understand it, you call their phone order or customer support line and ask to order a “blank kit”. Basically, the $5 covers the shipping only so you are getting the kit and the storage service for free. Which is probably why they don’t advertise it! 🙂

  2. Note – for those transferring a 46 marker Y-DNA test (really a 43 marker for most men) with the retest of the 37 marker upgrade, the matches are only available at the 37 marker level and not at the 25 or 12 marker levels. I would imagine the same would apply with the Y33 transfer and upgrade to FTDNA’s 25 marker test, matches will only show for the 25 marker resolution and not at the 12 marker resolution.

  3. I tried to retest at FTDNA and they wont let me do it on the “deal” (I have already uploaded my ancestry results there so apparently am ineligible.????

    • If you have already transferred your results, you don’t need to retest unless you suspect there is a problem of some sort. Unless I’m misunderstanding what you mean.

  4. Also, if you transfer a 33 marker Ancestry test to FTDNA at the $58 option, and you cannot resample because the person is now deceased, you will only get 12 markers on the retest. That’s my situation – Not particularly useful.

      • I guess I should have said you can transfer the kit. It’s called a “retest” by FTDNA I think, but you can’t do anything with the sample they send you so you’re stuck at 12 markers.

        • If the person is deceased, wouldn’t you just do the $19 transfer. Did you do the “upgrade” so you would have matches even though you obviously can’t do the swab test?

      • The $19 “transfer” doesn’t accomplish much other than you can get into one of FTDNA’s surname groups. However, most of their test results are publicly available so I don’t need to be in the group to see whether I match anyone in the group. The main reason to buy the $58 “upgrade” is to be able to match people in FTDNA’s database that are not in a group. Unfortunately, if the person you tested at Ancestry is not around to give a new sample, then your 33 marker test at Ancestry turns into a 12 marker test at FTDNA, because the two companies only tested 12 of the same markers. A 12 marker test is good for demonstrating that two people do NOT match, but it’s not good for much else. I have already transferred my markers for all six Y-DNA tests I had at Ancestry into which is free (and I highly recommend using for anyone who took a Y test!). So I see no value in any of the FTDNA transfer/upgrade options.

        Also, I would love to be able to do an Autosomal test on that sample of the dead person – even at Ancestry. But (so far) Ancestry has said they will be discarding the samples. I think this is going to be a large PR hit for them if they stick to their guns.

    • Don:
      You would have to retest to get any matches. If you cannot retest because the person is deceased, the $58 option is moot – you’ll be paying for a retest kit that you will never use. Matches do not come at the $58 option until the new kit is processed. Your only option is to go the $19 route. Only a new sample will get you matches.

      • Hmm… this is the interchange I had with the FamilyTreeDNA community liaison earlier on the ISOGG FB page. Did I misinterpret what she is saying?

        Lisa Janine Cloud Actually, Craig H. Trout, we at FTDNA accept Y-DNA transfers from Ancestry. It’s $58 to go from either 33 markers to 25, or 46 to 37. We do have to send out a collection kit because we test for some markers they don’t use, but once you’ve gotten those and followed the adjustment instructions in the transfer process, you’re able to match and upgrade just as if you’d done the first 37 all with us. We do require that you email or fax documentation, which would be the certificate they give you that lists your STRs, but it is less expensive than starting over. Not that we mind taking your money, but we’d rather you spend those extra $$ on upgrading to 67.

        Don Worth Lisa – some of the people I tested are now deceased. Is there any way to transfer the kit if the tested person is not longer available to resample?

        Lisa Janine Cloud You can transfer for $19. The markers will be available for inclusion in group projects. You can order the transfer+upgrade for $58 and 33-marker transfers will have 12-marker matches, while 46-marker transfers will have 25-marker matches. You just wouldn’t be able to upgrade beyond that.

      • You cannot upgrade without a retest. She is a little confused with their products. I’ve done the upgrade transfer recently for one of my family members and he (after the retest) only has matches at the retest level of 37 markers. He has no matches at 12 or 25 markers when there obviously are as we have other family members he could match. It doesn’t matter what you pay, if you do not retest, you do not go into their system for matches. Nothing from the previous company carries over to their database until they process the DNA.

      • Well, isn’t that “special”… well, at least I have the Ancestry STR values (converted) and can manually compare them to other people’s STRs online and in YSEARCH. Just about $1000 down the drain. 🙁

        • I asked Janine Cloud at Family Tree DNA to clarify the situation about transfer kits and matches. Here is what she said.

          “My post in the ISOGG forum, as quoted by Don Worth, is absolutely correct. If you don’t buy the upgrade, even if you’re not going to get another sample, you don’t get the matching. If you buy the upgrade, the 33 marker test gets 12-marker matches because the markers we use that Ancestry doesn’t are in the second panel, and those for the 37 marker are in the third panel so you get up to 25-marker matches with the 46+37. For some people it’s not worth it. For others, it would be.

          I will have our transfer specialist review Mr. Owston’s transfer kit. I can’t give details about it, as you know, but there’s a reason that he has no matches at 12 and 25. I will make sure that everything was entered properly.”

      • Thanks Roberta. All of the markers that are reported in the first and second panels are correct. Not that I really need the 12 and 25 marker matches. I am satisfied with the 37 at this point. I just thought that was standard. I will be transferring about 10 more by the end of the year – most with the upgrade.

  5. Ancestry’s atDNA testing is alive and healthy, the tests themselves are equivalent. Ancestry’s atDNA is going nowhere, you do not need to retest, although everyone should download and backup all their raw data, no matter which test or which company you used. FTDNA has, however, owned the market for yDNA since it has been used in genetic genealogy and they host the surname projects. I have no idea why anyone would have tested yDNA with Ancestry in the first place, but if you have extra money and a candidate for testing, do FTDNA ‘s yDNA, as many markers as you can afford for any male line you feel you need. MtDNA, including the full sequence, is not as useful genealogically as either Y or autosomal, so set your goals and then choose. Personally, I am looking forward to the new atDNA tools Ancestry is rolling out since as it is their matching system is by far the best for the genealogist.

    • Unfortunately, Ancestry has no tools, such as the chromosome browser, so you really can’t verify genetic matches without utilizing a third party tool such as GedMatch.

  6. Is postage included in the quoted prices, please?
    If I have mtDNA results from 23andme will the Family Tree results
    be comparable? Thank you.

  7. I opine that FTDNA is best all around test site. 23’s analysis tools are awkward and “mickey mouse.” Just MO.

  8. My issue is that not everyone seems to think FTDNA is the right place to add their family tree information, they don’t always join groups, and you can’t very often get someone who actually tested to email you back when you DO get wind of a match. And finally, if you’re only interested in the autosomalDNA, ancestry seems to be the best because htey let you administer several DNA tests from one family tree uploaded (so you can order 3 tests for different people say for different branches, and administer them from ONE SINGLE account). Having to have a whole bunch of different FTDNA accounts for EACH test and having to upload different files to get your family history on there is painful to remember all those accounts! Why doesn’t FTDNA let us have one email account, with our family trees? And, FTDNA does not MATCH family trees or allow us to have that type of matching which more likely comes with since people actually go there to BUILD their family trees. I’m just totally unclear why for solely AUTOSOMAL DNA, you wouldn’t want to get it from for the most efficient way to manage more than one person’s DNA in the same family, or across familes and match with MORE trees, where the on-line system looks at those trees and helps identify or rule out people that match other people’s DNA and their family tree as researched! HELP!?

    • For serious researchers, there are a couple of very problematic issues with Ancestry’s autosomal. First, I have YET to have one reply from contact requests I’ve sent to matches on Ancestry. Secondly, just because you match on the tree does not mean that’s your genetic match, and Ancestry provides absolutely no tools such as a chromosome browser to allow you to confirm the genetic match is the tree match. It’s often not leading to false conclusions.

  9. I have been lucky at ancestry and most have responded to me. Apparently, the testers have not been educated by ancestrydna, and most/some do not understand that a tree match is NOT a dna match. Testers do not understand that a valid match is in most cases an overlapping numerical segment match. (we have to factor in the randomness of dna). Nowhere to my knowledge has ancestry dna put that in their “propaganda”.

  10. I think there is a common misconception that these companies all attempt to provide the same thing but some are better or worse and that you must choose just one of them. While you may want to choose one to test with FIRST, you really get very different advantages from testing with each.

    I had always tested autosomal DNA with FamilyTreeDNA only. But recently I ordered a test for my wife, Carley, at Ancestry. It was an entirely different (and surprisingly positive) experience.

    I went into this with very negative ideas about AncestryDNA. I had heard that even their own engineer admitted that fully 50% of their “matches” … weren’t. They have a very low threshold for calling a DNA match between two people so they get a lot of false positives. Also, they do not provide segment data so there is no way to do triangulation to prove that a match is valid or to find others who share the same common ancestor on the same segment. And, we all know how bad some of the Ancestry public trees can be! But I had heard from the adoption angels that I work with on DNAgedcom and others that they had a lot more luck in finding common ancestors at Ancestry. So I gave it a try.

    My wife had 800 matches at FTDNA. She has over 8000 at Ancestry. Partly this is due to the larger database at Ancestry and partly it’s due to the lower match threshold. But even if only half those matches are valid, that’s a lot more possibilities. So far I had only found three common ancestors at FTDNA – but it’s a lot of work and I can’t say I spent a ton of time on it. Ancestry applied their “shaky leaf” technology to comparing trees to the subset of trees that had a DNA match. This actually caused the weak DNA matches and the loosey goosey trees to reinforce each other. We found TEN!!! confirmed common ancestors in as many minutes when we first went into the test results! One was for a brick wall line we were researching with someone who did not match us at FTDNA (they threw out the match because the segment was too short – but obviously it was, in fact, IBD). And we could immediately see where the common ancestor sits in both Carley’s tree and the person she matched. I then contacted each of these matches and asked them if they had uploaded their raw data to GEDMATCH and several of them have gotten back to me and asked me how to do it. So I’ve been walking them through it. One lady already completed the upload, I found the matching segment in GEDMATCH, and then found other matches in FTDNA who triangulated on the same segment and will be contacting them with the information about the common ancestor.

    Overall, it felt like two very different, complimentary services – almost like two different types of DNA tests. I’m going to use them and GEDMATCH in concert as I just described above. I think there are some real advantages with Ancestry if you have filled out your family tree quite a bit (we’ve been working on ours for 38 years) because you’re more likely to find commonalities between your tree and others that way – a couple of the matches were because we had explored collateral lines a lot.

    My impression is that FTDNA really caters to the DNA hobbyist (those into the technical details) and Ancestry caters to the broader DNA dabbler. But there are advantages to both communities to using both. The point is… if you can afford it, fish in more ponds. I guess now I will have to try 23andMe too…


    • Definitely, fish in all 3 ponds. Each have their plusses and minuses, but the bottom line is that you may find relevant matches in each of them that aren’t in any of the other data bases.

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  12. I just took the Ancestry “spit” test last month. Am I hearing that the 1-month old results are no longer going to be valid? I understand that things change, but I would have appreciated being given the option to wait for the new test since the changeover was so close at hand.

    • The spit test that you took a month ago was likely for the AncestryDNA autosomal product because they stopped selling the other products earlier in the year. That test is still valid and not one being obsoleted. You still might want to transfer your results or test at Family Tree DNA and 23andMe so you can have matches in multiple data bases.

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  15. I had my test done at Ancestry and the composition was NOT as reported by my family. Specifically I AM SURE that my great great grandmother on my mother’s side was of Irish ancestry and equally AS SURE that my father’s father is a Cherokee! Well when I got my results from ancestry I was reported as less than 1 percent native american, and none of my european ancestry was Irish!

    Not convinced of accuracy I did the free upload and free 1st 20 matches from Family Tree DNA and VIOLA one of my first two matches is of total Irish ancestry, and a few down show North Carolina/Virginia area which is traditionally Cherokee Nation. Whilst DNA is DNA racial break down information was ALL WRONG for me!

    You can transfer your raw data to FTDNA using this link for FREE

    Please do tell if the ancestry information is more accurate with FTDNA that with

  16. I have tested with Ancestry, FTdna, and 23and me…I find them all complimentary to each other. I must add that I am a rank amateur as to Genetics compared to Roberta..
    My paper genealogy appears to be proven up by the results of all 3 testing companies.
    And require an expert at this point to prove me wrong in my thinking..
    It does seem that I never get exactly what I thought I was paying for, UNLESS, I pay more money for snp’s, etc., or records availability which seems to have the “bait and switch” tactic of conducting business.
    Where am I wrong and if so I will publicly apologise.

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  18. I heard it is possible to do a nuclear (Y DNA) on a woman and even if she has no male relatives living. I never knew my father, so I am very intrigued at this idea. I had my mitochondrial DNA done at 23andMe, but I guess that’s only on my mothers side….which doesn’t make sense to me because it’s all MY DNA which is a combination of both mothers and fathers. I am having some bad health issues also and I want to pass any information down to my daughter. What is your current most economical price to test my DNA? I understand 23andMe won’t be compatible. Thank you for your time and help,
    Ivy Daniels

  19. I hope you can help me. I tested with a company about 10 years ago. I did not know anything back then (still dont know much). I have taken Y (37) and mitochochondrial (HVR1 & 2) tests at FTDNA. A few years ago I transferred data to FTDNA (don’t know where it came from; I know, my bad). Now I can’t purchase FamilyFinder. Is there any way to “un-transfer” the uploaded data so that I can purchase FamilyFinder but retain all my Y and mitochondrial data and all my projects, etc? Thanks

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