Unless you’re 100% Native American, you probably have some distant cousins living across the ocean. Maybe some of them have taken a DNA test, but you won’t find out unless you’re in the same database. If you’re looking to connect with people outside the U.S., it’s a good idea to find out if testing is even available in the country you’re searching.
Note: International laws may change and shipping policies are often vague. This post is based on the most current data available as of January 2019.
The top four DNA testing companies included in this comparison are AncestryDNA, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, and MyHeritage.
The largest of the top 4 personal genetic testing companies, AncestryDNA, has more than 10 million users in their database. They offer multilingual services and ship to 36 countries, as follows:
Albania, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany. Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Vatican City1
AncestryDNA was launched in the U.S. in 2012.2 In 2015, the company began shipping to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.3 The rest of the 36 countries weren’t added to the list until 2016. Although AncestryDNA’s popularity has steadily grown throughout Europe, international participants in the database are far outnumbered by American users.
It’s worth noting that AncestryDNA does not ship to France, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, or Spain, to name a few. There are ways for residents of these countries to obtain AncestryDNA kits, but the extra steps required would likely send potential customers to another testing company.
23andMe, with over 5 million users is the the 2nd-largest personal genetic testing company. They offer two different DNA test options:
Personal Genetic Service (heritage and DNA matches only) – available in many countries.
Personal Genetic Service + Health Reports – available in the United States and international markets where these tests are not prohibited.
23andMe ships to the following countries, but only offers health reports to those listed in bold:
Albania, American Samoa, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guam, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Mariana Island, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, Vatican City, Virgin Islands 4 5
Georgia and Turkey are the only countries Ancestry services that 23andMe does not. Also, 23andme’s lack of multilingual support deters many who don’t speak English. Some international customers have complained of prohibitively high shipping costs, which may be costlier than the test itself.
With about 1.5 million DNA samples, MyHeritage has a considerably smaller database of users than Ancestry or 23andMe. However, users from AncestryDNA and 23andMe may upload their raw DNA data and compare results. Like the top 2 companies, MyHeritage shows users a list of DNA matches but also generates matches based on uploads from other companies.
MyHeritage began offering DNA testing in 2016, the same year AncestryDNA expanded to reach 36 countries. MyHeritage, based in Israel, charges much lower shipping rates than AncestryDNA, making it an instant favorite among Europeans (Return shipping is included in the price of all DNA kits).
In June 2018, MyHeritage opened a distribution center in Tilburg, the Netherlands. This further lowered costs and expanded MyHeritage’s reach across Europe. The company’s blog explained:
MyHeritage DNA is offered in more languages than any other DNA service — and is sold in almost every country worldwide. MyHeritage is now known among family history enthusiasts as the leading DNA service in Europe and as the best choice for European DNA matching, enabling users to find relatives in Europe through shared DNA. It is the ideal DNA testing service for people seeking to find their relatives in Europe, and for people in the USA and the rest of the world whose ancestors originated from Europe.6
Although details on non-European countries aren’t very clear, it seems MyHeritage ships to every country in Europe except for Poland. They also cater to non English-speakers. MyHeritage won’t ship to Poland, but for a small fee, anyone can use a proxy shipping service in another country and still pay less than if they had purchased from 23andMe or Ancestry.
Why don’t they ship to Poland? Other than speculation on some message boards, I’ve found no reason why Poland is the only excluded country. While looking for answers, I found this video on Youtube.
Now I know 10 ways to say sad in Polish.
Common sense would suggest MyHeritage is a poor choice for those seeking Polish relatives, but experience has shown otherwise. I’ve encountered many Polish residents with DNA kits only on MyHeritage. Meaning, these are unique users who do not appear on Ancestry, 23andMe, or FamilyTreeDNA.
MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA each accept DNA uploads from the other three companies, but AncestryDNA and 23andMe do not accept DNA uploads at all.
With just over a million users, FamilyTreeDNA is the smallest of the top four companies. Like MyHeritage, FTDNA accepts data uploads from its three competitors (excluding 23andMe kits processed after August 2017, which, as of early 2019, are in an incompatible format).
Unlike the other companies, FamilyTreeDNA offers additional tests for paternal and maternal-line ancestry. It is also the home of many regional and surname-specific DNA projects, led by dedicated volunteer genealogists.
From the FamilyTreeDNA Learning Center:
We ship kits to most international locations … There are some countries where shipping requires special processing. These countries are Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. There are two countries, Sudan and Iran, whose customs restrictions prevent us from shipping to them. Due to the wide range of international postage costs, international shipments do not include return postage.
FamilyTreeDNA ships to every country in Europe, and many countries outside of Europe that Ancestry and 23andMe do not service. To sell kits in all of Europe, they must be fully compliant with each country’s regulations, including age restrictions. While the U.S. doesn’t currently impose age restrictions on DNA testing, American customers are subject to the same restrictions as international users. All participants between 13 and 17 years of age must have a parent or guardian sign a release form. FamilyTreeDNA will not process a test kit for anyone known to be under 13 years old.
Where Should I Test?
If you’re an adoptee or searching for someone of unknown parentage, I suggest testing with both AncestryDNA and 23andMe. Then, upload your raw data to MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA and GEDmatch. This will allow you to find matches from all the major testing companies. GEDMatch also accepts uploads from smaller companies like Geno 2.0, Wegene, and LivingDNA, which I plan to cover in future posts.
Below is a graphic comparing the top four DNA-testing companies and the countries they ship to. I’ve only included the countries specifically listed by Ancestry and 23andme. MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA ship to many other places outside of Europe that are not on this list.
What about privacy?
If you’re interested in genealogy and heritage, but worry about the security of your data, I recommend reading this article about DNA testing and privacy. Spoiler: 23andme is probably the safest choice among all the testing companies.
Meet thousands of distant cousins
If you have a few generations of ancestors born in America and want to meet a few hundred 3rd and 4th cousins, AncestryDNA and 23andme are good options. But, if you know your grandparents or great-grandparents were born in a particular country, you may find your closest matches on one of the smaller sites. Refer to the chart above to determine which company may best suit your needs.
Doesn’t 23andMe also ship to Canada?
They do indeed! Thanks for spotting my typo. I’ve update the list to show Canada.
Yes it does. I’ve been with 23 and me for over two years. Good luck. 😊
Dear Jane, thank you for a very informative post! Regarding the Personal Genetic Service + Health Reports of 23andMe, they do ship it to a handful of countries. These are: Canada, UK, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Netherland and Sweden. For delivering to these countries you must place your order on the Canadian, UK or EU websites of 23andMe, respectively.
Greetings from Denmark,
Thank you for letting me know. I’ve checked the most recent FAQs from 23andme and updated the information in this post.
Great update! Just a last correction: 23andMe also ships Health Reports to Ireland, so that country name should be also displayed in bold.
My cousin was adopted from an orphanage in Germany. I would like to buy her as a gift a DNA testing kit to see if she could find relatives. What kit would you recommend?
There’s no easy answer, but if you can only buy one kit, I’d suggest the following steps:
Purchase an AncestryDNA test. Once she gets the results, upload the data to MyHeritage (much more popular in Germany than Ancestry DNA) for free. Also, upload the data to FamilyTreeDNA (free, but costs $19 for advanced features), and GEDmatch (to compare against people from 23andme, LivingDNA, etc.) That’s probably the best way to cover all bases for <$75. Good luck!
My mother was adopted from an orphanage in Russia. She remembers having a brother and a sister, but wasn’t be able to find them due to name change. I want to buy her as a gift a DNA testing kit to see if she could find relatives. We live in US. What kit would you recommend?
Sorry for my delayed response. Ancestry has the largest database of users, so I would suggest that first. Then, upload your raw DNA to MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA, and GEDmatch. If you still have no close matches, try 23asndme.
I would imagine it’s because 23andme have simplistic regions based on socio-economic regions as opposed to autosomal genetic regions. Living DNA base their regions on autosomal PCA plots, therefore countries may be split into different regions.
I would not test with a company that places Finland in North-west Europe. Finns are genetically Eastern European. Although they are genetically isolated, they are still genetically closer to Russians, and Estonians than they are to Dutch, Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, Germans, and English etc.
I would not test with a company that lumps France and Germany into one sub region, based on the United Nations socio-economic region of Western Europe. Corsicans cluster with Tuscans and Sardinians, and should be in Southern Europe, East Austrians cluster with Hungarians, and Czechs, and should be in Eastern Europe, Italian Swiss cluster with Italians in general, and should be in Southern Europe, and French Basques cluster with Spanish Basques, and should be in Southern Europe. Living DNA gets this right, as autosomal genetics is not economics.
As someone of Ashkenazi origin, I would test with 23andme, as they do not know where Ashkenazi Jews cluster either. A quick study of PCA charts shows that Ashkenazim cluster among Southern Europeans, and people of the “Near East”. My Living DNA results confirm this. My Eastern European percentage (despite the fact that my family come from there) is much smaller than my Southern European and “Near Eastern” percentages. 23andme claim Ashkenazim are genetically Eastern European. Geneticists such as Behar have proved this to be incorrect.
A lot of mistakes in that chart. MyHeritage won’t ship to Israel (despite being an Israeli company). You should check out the comments on https://www.facebook.com/groups/tracingthetribe/permalink/10158457176955747/ to see other errors.
Hello Lisa! Thank you for bringing that to my attention. The information I used to create the chart was taken from an official MyHeritage blog post from 2018. Upon your advice, I checked the site again, but this time I attempted create an order. You are correct — the shipping locations are no longer the same. Israel was not on the list. I will update the chart as soon as I have a chance.
I am ready to do a DNA test. My problem is this: I was born in Hungary but I have been living in USA for many years. I most likely do not have any blood relatives in America, so have to concentrate on relatives in Europe, mostly in Hungary, of course.
I need your advice on what would be the best way to go, which company’s kit to order.
Depending on the part of Hungary you’re from, you may have more relatives in the US that you realize. I’ve tested and/or uploaded to all the sites and MyHeritage, by far, has the most matches who currently live in Hungary and other parts of central Europe. That said, if you want to find the most matches for the least $$, I’d suggest buying an Ancestry kit and then upload your raw data to MyHeritage and FamilyTree DNA. Let me know how it goes!
Hi! I want to give a genetic test to my boyfriend as a gift but we live in Spain. Also, he is Peruvian so his background I’m guessing is a mix of Indigenous (Andean), African, Spanish European and I don’t know else. Which would be the best test to purchase?
I’m so surprised by how few companies ship to Spain!
Thanks for the info. Your suggestion that adoptees test on both 23andme and AncestryDNA, and then upload to MyHeritage, FTDNA and Gedmatch may need revision. It does not factor in that FTDNA does not accept uploads from 23andme tests processed after Aug 2017 due to incompatibility, unless something has changed?
Can you please advise which company is best to find Latvian relatives etc. I live in Latvia now but born in Germany and spent most of my life in Australia. But we are living permanently now in Latvia b
I just got results from Myheritage, which I chose because they supposedly have the largest database of Europeans. I have a 100% French mother (at least 5 generations of northeastern French parentage) and an Austrian father of multiple origins (we know of German, Czech and Hungarian grandparents). The closest thing to France on my results is British! The closest to Austria is my 10% Italian/Greek result. They do not have categories for France or Germany! They call the Baltic “Southern Europe”!! What a waste of money. I would not recommend My Heritage.
We suspect we have could be a match to someone living in South Africa and would love to get a DNA kit sent to them. We live in Canada ourselves. Which service would be the best to use?
I have a separate question. What DNA companies do people who live in all of those myriad companies LIKE to test with? Last I heard (quite a while ago) I heard that they were leary of the DNA test companies.
Ancestry needs to get with it and promote in Southern Europe specifically Spain. They need to promote it the way they promote in Northern and Eastern Europe. I mean ancestry is not promoted in Italy, France and Spain? The founders of the colonial Americas are not covered? Really Ancestry? They are literally ignoring the majority of the America’s ancestry in Southern Europe. Just wow.
What kits would you recommend to see if we can find relatives in Spain?
Dear Jane ! I desperately need you help : I,m 73 years old women and was adopted in Poland after biological Mother return from Germany / with me 4 months old / and was kill n Poland.
Actually I live n Australia for last 35 years and now…I like to found mine relatives or cusins.
PLEASE advise me : from which Company order DNA kit / to many of them and…I,m lost 🙁
Looking forward for you answer and BIG THANKS
Grace from Australia
I live in Thailand, where none of the companies ship to.
What are my options to get a DNA Test ?
Thanks for your advice
Currently, it appears that AncestryDNA ships to Thailand, but 23andme does not. I need to update this blog post, so please excuse the outdated information.
The way to determine if a company ships to your country is simply to visit the site and place a kit in the cart. Begin the checkout process, and then see if your country is on the list.
I hope this helps
I believe I have a brother that was born in Germany where my father was stationed decades ago. I live in the United States. Which test do you recommend?
Sorry for my delayed reply. I suggest testing with Ancestry and 23andme, and then uploading your data to MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA. If you can only purchase 1 test, Ancestry would be my first choice.
I wanted to gift a kit for a Moroccan born friend (who currently lives in Belgium).
is there a kit that may show his heritage? All recent generations are Moroccan too
Thanks for your advice
I’d suggest testing with Ancestry because they have the largest database of users, and then uploading the data to MyHeritage, which is more popular among residents of northern Africa and parts of Europe.
I,m going to write a novel with main character the daughter of a woman who was stolen from her imprisoned birth mother at plotzensee prison in Berlin at the end of world war 2. No one knows this. She does a DNA test and finds these unexpected cousins. Would 23 and me be the best test for this and loads to the other tests. There will be many twists and one of the reasons Europeans don’t do these tests is because they,re afraid of ww2 results
Hi, thank you for publishing this. I would like to give some kind of DNA analysis to my mother for her 80th birthday. She lives in Serbia. I I just out of luck, as I don’t see it listed anywhere?
Did you ever write the updated blog that includes the smaller companies?
Sorry, I haven’t had a chance to write about that yet, but I hope to soon!
Which do you think would be the best test for someone of Turkish origin?