What do GEDmatch Kit Numbers Mean?

by Marc McDermott on

GEDmatch has been such a useful tool for many of its users since it first launched in 2010. It became very status quo for genealogical research rather quickly and, as such, the sleuths we researchers can be, often wonder what the significance of the kit numbers are.

How do I find my GEDmatch kit number?

When a new user uploads their data to GEDmatch, a bold red number flashes on the screen, and the user is then asked to make note of this number for future reference. This is their unique kit number which allows them to use the tools and databases on GEDmatch. Though these numbers seem randomly produced like license plates in state prisons, there is actually a particular way that the kit numbers are formed.

You will find your unique kit number after your upload is displayed on your screen. However, your kit number is also displayed on the home screen so, if you didn’t write it down, no need to worry. By navigating to your home screen, if you scroll down to “Your DNA Resources”, you will find your kits displayed in blue hyperlinks. There are a number of different symbols you will see alongside your kit number. A green checkmark indicates that your kit is ready to be used. To the left-hand side of the number, there is a badge with the word “police” through it. If you click this, you can opt in to share your kit with law enforcement accounts. However, your kit will not be utilized by default. You have to go in and opt-in yourself. To the right of this is a pencil symbol. This symbol allows you to go in and edit your settings.

What Is A GEDmatch Kit Number?

Your unique kit number is what you use to gain the most access to the many tools on GEDmatch. Larger testing companies like 23andMe began allowing their users to download their raw DNA into file types that are compatible with GEDmatch uploading and so, though GEDmatch has rolled with the tide of positive changes, the format for which the numbers are created has changed several times. However, the importance and meanings of those numbers still remain the same.

In 2017, GEDmatch began a major renovation of their website and ended up running two versions alongside each other. Eventually, they retired the old system and whenever you see the name “Genesis”, this is just the name of the newer system. During this renovation, there was a bit of a change to the naming convention for each unique kit number. To be clear, old numbers didn’t change. It was just the new uploads with the new system that would undergo a different naming system.

What do GEDmatch numbers mean?

Currently, each kit number contains nine characters. The first two characters are random letters and they are preceded by a seven-digit number.

GEDmatch Superkits are a bit different as they begin with two characters followed by six numbers and they end in the suffix “-C1”.

Before the update to the current site, Genesis, there was a different kit structuring system in place which entailed a certain prefix that would correlate with the site from which the user’s kit was uploaded. Ancestry kits began with A, 23andMe kits began with M, and so on. The letter was then followed by six numbers.

As stated above, GEDmatch didn’t change the already uploaded kit numbers on their site when they migrated to the new system, Genesis. So you will still see many kits with these prefixes.

GEDmatch kit number prefixes

The majority of these kits will begin with:

  • A – Ancestry
  • F or T – FamilyTreeDNA
  • H – MyHeritage
  • M – 23andMe
  • W – WeGene

There are many other kit prefixes you will find on the website. For example, there are kits that were uploaded specifically by a man named Felix Immanuel. He was working on uploading archaic DNA for the archaic tool and it was because of this that he was given the prefix “F” to all of his kits. He was the first to upload these types of files and so those who came after him, though uploaded by other people, were still given the “F”.

There are a plethora of other kits number prefixes you will see. Some of them are smaller companies that are used for different purposes. Therefore, if they’re out of the norm, you might have to do a little more research.

The update to the system was likely made in order to make room for a larger influx of users. When only using the same prefix and six random letters, only so much randomness can occur. By making the kits nine characters long allow for a lot more room for growth.

Your unique kit number

It is of key importance to understand that your kit number is, by no means, confidential. Do not mistake the word “unique” for “keep it a secret”. This will not benefit you or your research. Many of the tools on GEDmatch, including the one-to-one autosomal DNA comparison, requires you to copy and paste your unique kit number and the kit number of another match into the required fields. You can find these other matches and their kit numbers fully displayed from your one-to-many tool.

Sharing your GEDmatch kit number with other people who are collaborating on research with you is another very helpful way to access data without having to give away your login credentials. A lot of team-based genealogy teams operate in this way. Each has their own login but by using a kit number they are able to work side-by-side from their own respective accounts and sift through the data quicker.

Your matches

Knowing where your matches have been tested is oftentimes very helpful because you can reference them on another site that might have different cM thresholds in place. Therefore, the way in which you relate to them may be different than the way they are displayed in GEDmatch’s database (you can also change your default cM threshold in GEDMatch by going into your toolbar before populating your results). However, it will, most of the time, be within the same ballpark (this is particularly helpful in cases where you match with an individual on a defining line – exp. A high matching first cousin vs. low matching half-sibling). With the new system, Genesis, in place and the prefix letters for new kits being different, you might think this takes away the advantage. Quite easily though, this information can be tracked down by sending a quick and simple email to your matches and asking them yourself. All emails are displayed within the one-to-many too and other places when your matches are displayed. 

Final thoughts

Though Genesis has since replaced the older version of GEDmatch, it is still very important to know the evolution of these kit numbers and their structure. It is likely that, in the future, the evolution of the kit number system will continue to evolve and that is something we will keep you all updated on. As they say, “The more you know, the better off you’ll be.” After all, genealogy is all about knowledge and, by knowing what site your matches tested on, you are able to stalk them more in-depth (come on, you know we have all been there!). So next time you see crazy numbers mixed with letters that might intimidate you, just know they might not just be as random as you think!

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