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How to Use Ancestry Without a Subscription

Do you want to know how to use Ancestry without a subscription? How much can you do on Ancestry for free? In this post, find out the answer to these questions – and more.

Let’s face it. Genealogy research can be expensive. Subscriptions to sites with genealogy records can be pricey and they can add up, especially if you pay for access to more than one site.

Ancestry is a great website for those interested in genealogy. There are actually many ways to use the site that won’t cost you anything.

How to Use Ancestry Without a Subscription

If an Ancestry subscription just isn’t an option for you right now, find out free ways to use the site below. You can always get a subscription later on when you can, but you don’t have to.

Can you use for free?

Yes, you can use many features on Ancestry for free. Without a subscription, you can enjoy maybe aspects of using Ancestry, including building a family tree.

This means that Ancestry can be enjoyed by anyone, even if they don’t have a subscription. It is also important to know that if you currently have a subscription and then cancel it for any reason, your work on the site will not be lost.

While having a subscription does provide access to additional content and features, there are many ways to use Ancestry when you do not have a subscription.

Below, I will explain how to get a free Ancestry account and all of the ways that you can use it, even if you don’t have a subscription.

How to create a free Ancestry account

It’s easy to create a free Ancestry account, which is the first thing that you must do in order to get started using Ancestry. Fortunately, it only takes a few minutes.

Once you have created your account, you can get started using the site right away.

To get a free Ancestry account, simply visit the following link:

Simply fill out the form and follow the instructions.

Keep reading to find out all of the things that you can do with your free Ancestry account. I have included at least seven free activities.

What can you do with a free Ancestry account?

Most people find themselves using a free Ancestry account during some point or another during their time with the site. Some people never get a subscription, and others find that they only get an active subscription during months when they know that they will have extra time to spend researching their family tree.

There are many things that we can do with our free accounts that can help move our family tree research forward. This is great to know!

You can build your family tree for free

It’s always free on Ancestry to build your family tree. In fact, you can build multiple trees without upgrading to a paid account.

This is great to know, since lots of people find that they like to get an Ancestry subscription during times when they are actively researching. They may find that they don’t always need to have one, but their tree will always be there.

You can view other family trees that you have been invited to be a part of

While it’s true that we can’t view most public member family trees if we don’t have a subscription to Ancestry, we can always view trees – public or private – that we have been invited to be a part of by other Ancestry members.

For example, if you have a close relative who has been very active building a family tree, they can add you (i.e. invite you) to their tree in their tree sharing settings. Once you accept their invitation, you will be able to view the individual members of the tree and their associated facts and gallery items.

The only caveat to this free way to use Ancestry is that if you do not have a subscription, you will not be able to view photos and records that your relative (the owner of the tree) has attached to the people in the tree. Attaching records to the tree that belong to other Ancestry members is a different process than uploading documents and photographs to the gallery of the tree, which is why this works differently for those with and without a subscription.

You can search for Ancestry members and view their profiles

With your free Ancestry account, you can use the member search feature and search for other Ancestry members by first or last name, or their username. In addition, if you have done a DNA test, you will be able to click through to the profile of the Ancestry member to see if you are a DNA match to them if they, too, have tested their DNA.

In order to contact other Ancestry users through the messaging system on their profile, you must have an Ancestry subscription.

Those people who have done DNA tests will find that they can contact their DNA matches by using the button for messages available on the DNA match profile. Most people will recommend that those who have tested their DNA contact other Ancestry members through the DNA match interface and not on their main Ancestry profile page.

You can use the search feature and see search results

Even though we can’t access most records and documents on Ancestry without a subscription, we can still use the search feature in order to see which types of records are available. This can help you get an idea as to how many records there might possibly be on the site for the relatives you are researching.

Occasionally, you might be able to see certain details like names or cities on the search results without a subscription. This might be helpful every once in a while, but to really know if a record belongs to our ancestor, we need to examine it carefully.

You can view your DNA results

You can always view your DNA results on Ancestry, whether or not you have an active subscription. Your ethnicity estimate, DNA Story, and DNA matches are always visible to you, even if you never have a subscription.

In fact, your DNA results will go through regular updates and you will get new DNA matches even if you have a free Ancestry account. This is one of my favorite aspects about taking a DNA test with Ancestry, since it is a purchase that continues to be valuable over time, even years after the original test was taken.

You can view DNA results that you have been invited to view

With a free account, you can view DNA results from other Ancestry members who have invited you to view their results.

This is a free way to use Ancestry that not many people have thought of, but it’s kind of neat. If you have a sister, parent, or other close relative who has taken a DNA test, they can invite you to view their results under their DNA test settings.

Once they do, you will be able to log in to your Ancestry account and access the DNA Results Summary page just as you would if it were your own test. You will be able to see the ethnicity estimate and DNA matches, which adds an extra layer of functionality to the free account.

Of course, I hope that seeing your relative’s DNA results inspires you to take your own Ancestry DNA test. It’s really very interesting and helpful for learning about our ancestors.

You can upload (import) a GEDCOM into your Ancestry tree

You can always import a GEDCOM file into Ancestry made from a tree that you made on another site or with a software program on your computer. You don’t need a subscription to be able to access this feature.

Is there a way to get a free trial for Ancestry?

An Ancestry subscription can be very helpful to your genealogy research, and it can even help you build your tree faster and more efficiently.

For example, with an Ancestry subscription, you can add records and even people to your tree automatically, without having to type in their details.

There are many millions of records on the site that can only be accessed with a subscription. Additionally, those with paid accounts can view other people’s family trees on the site.

Other family trees can provide important clues about our ancestors.

Fortunately, you can get a free trial to Ancestry to try it out. This is a good way to do some research over the next few weeks and see whether or not it makes sense to have a subscription right now.


I hope that this post has helped you understand how to use without a subscription, and what you can do on the site for free.

If you have any questions, or if I missed something that you know you can do on Ancestry with a free account, please feel free to join us in the discussion below.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Share the knowledge!

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Tuesday 19th of July 2022

What happens to all of us who had a free account with Family Tree / My Ancestry / Ancestry? do we still have a free account? If so, how to access previously built Family Tree?

Were they bought by the Blackstone Group? is that why it is no longer free?

Ruth Hettig

Saturday 23rd of April 2022

Can I get more choices or info if I use a computer as opposed to a app on a phone?


Sunday 22nd of May 2022

@Ruth Hettig, I can’t imagine doing Ancestry on a phone. The scale is too small and the input clumsy. There’s no substitute for a large screen and a keyboard. The Ancestry app on my iPad may provide me with the same information, but the interface is different and not as user friendly. There are fewer glitches with a desktop or laptop. It’s hard to picture professional genealogists doing their main work with their thumbs and a comparatively tiny cell phone. As far as I can tell, the mobile app provides the same information. But the computer version lays everything out bigger and better. I believe it is graphically superior. I would avoid using a cell phone unless that’s all you’ve got.

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