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About GEDCOM

GEDCOM is an acronym for GEnealogical Data COMmunication which was created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. GEDCOM has become a de facto specification and standard for exchanging genealogical data between different genealogy software and websites. A GEDCOM file is plain text (usually either UTF-8, ANSEL or ASCII) containing genealogical information about individuals, and meta data linking these records together. "ged" is a file extension used as a suffix to indicate the file has been formatted using the GEDCOM data specification



Frequently Asked Questions

Who owns the copyright to GEDCOM ?


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints copyrighted the GEDCOM Standards 1987, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2019

How can I use the published standards ?


The standards may be copied for the purpose of reviewing or programming of genealogical software, provided the below notice is included. All other rights reserved.

Copyright © 1987, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2019 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This document may be copied for purposes of review or programming of genealogical software, provided this notice is included. All other rights reserved.

Are GEDCOM Files still being used by FamilySearch ?


FamilySearch Contributors can submit their trees to FamilySearch.org Genealogies using GEDCOM files to make information available to help other researchers. These submissions remain in the submitters control, preserved indefinitely, to review or remove as seen fit. ( see FamilySearch.org/mytrees )

The GEDCOM 5.5.1 standard is copyright 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.

What's the difference between GEDCOM and GEDCOM-X ?


GEDCOM-X is a distinct family history data format, also created by the church, which addresses some perceived shortcomings in GEDCOM. GEDCOM-X is related to FamilySearch Family Tree's internal data models 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 platforms. See more at www.gedcomx.org/About.html .

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


This is the primary purpose of GEDCOM, and should work assuming you both use products that support GEDCOM. However, most software adds various extensions to GEDCOM to export features they have that other software might lack, and those extensions are sometimes not imported correctly by other software, even other software with similar features, so you might see some special features getting lost in transmission.



Versions

GEDCOM Versions
DateVersionStatusNotes
2019-11-15    5.5.1standardFinal version was released with updated email, dates, and copyright
1999-10-02    5.5.1draftUTF-8, email, URLs, geographic coordinates
1996-01-10    5.5errataGEDCOM 5.5 errata sheet
1996-01-02    5.5standardGEDCOM 5.5 with errata
1995-12-11    5.5standardstructured addresses, more name parts
1995-08-21    5.4draftcitation-source-repository model, more name parts, submission record (obsolete)
1993-11-04    5.3draftUnicode, multimedia, name parts, schema (abandoned)
1992-09-18    5.1draft
1991-09-25    5.0standardlineage-linked structures
1989-08-04    4.0standard 
1987-10-09    3.0standardlineage-linked form
1987-02    2.1standardPAF 2.1
1985-12    2.0standardPAF 2.0
1984    1.0proposed standardFirst Version



GEDCOM

The following GEDCOM specifications are provided as a reference.

GEDCOM 5.5

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GEDCOM 5.5.1

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