Discover Your Ancestral Origins
The ancestry test from MyHeritage promises to reveal the ethnic groups and geographic regions you come from by analyzing your DNA from a simple cheek swab.
By drawing from reference populations from 42 ethnicities and 2,114 genetic groups, the ancestry test should be a good choice for you if you want an accurate and detailed breakdown of where you came from.
To find out if MyHeritage could back up its claims, one of our researchers took the ancestry DNA test themselves. We explored and evaluated the results reports, as well as looked at pricing, support, and more.
Overall, it’s a great ancestry test. It gives you a detailed breakdown of your ethnicity as well as delving a little deeper by identifying your genetic groups.
Plus, you’ll get DNA matches and excellent family tree software, which you can try out for free.
MyHeritage is good, but it’s not perfect. We were disappointed that you can’t use this test to trace your maternal and paternal family lines. If that’s what you’re looking for, you may want to try AncestryDNA or 23andMe instead.
A Single Test that Ships Across the World
MyHeritage offers a single DNA test – an ancestry DNA test, which I took for the purpose of this review.
Besides the UK and US, MyHeritage ships all over the world, with the exception of Israel, the state of Alaska, and a few French island territories.
The MyHeritage test analyzes your DNA to determine the geographic and ethnic origins of your ancestors, plus provides the opportunity to forge new connections with potential relatives.
The DNA test includes:
- Ethnicity Estimate – Discover where your ancestors came from with a percentage breakdown of your ethnic origins.
- Genetic Groups – Learn the specific geographical regions of your recent ancestors and how they may have migrated over time.
- DNA Matches – Find potential relatives through your shared DNA from a database of over 4 million DNA samples.
- Advanced DNA Tools – Understand your relationships to your DNA matches with the Chromosome Browser and AutoClusters.
Just A Quick Swab of the Cheeks
So, you know how at-home DNA testing with MyHeritage works and what to expect, I ordered the kit myself and it arrived in just a few days.
The DNA collection kit contains what you would expect: two cheek swabs, two vials (test tube) containers, a ziplock bag with a cotton pad to store your samples, and an unpaid return envelope, plus a set of instructions for registering your kit and for collecting your samples.
Before you take the test, you’re prompted to register your kit, which requires you to create an account and enter your test kit’s unique code. Don’t skip this step, it allows the lab to determine who the test belongs to. Plus, by creating an account, you can track the status of your kit, from the lab receiving your sample to completion.
I was also invited to enter the names and birth and death dates of my parents and grandparents if I knew them. This gives you a bit of a head start on your genealogy journey if you plan on building a family tree once you get your ancestry results.
An instruction pamphlet is included in the DNA kit, which thankfully, I found easy-to-follow. You’re warned not to eat or drink 30 minutes before taking the test, so take note of that and avoid potential contamination.
Providing the sample was easy. A simple 30-60 second swab of each cheek is all that’s required. Once I’d snapped off my swabs into the vials provided, I was ready to send them back to the lab.
I did have to pay the postage cost to mail my samples to the MyHeritage lab – which is an extra cost that you won’t pay for 23andMe or AncestryDNA – but it was less than the price of a coffee for express shipping.
5 Standout Features of MyHeritage DNA – Learn Where You Come From and Make New Connections
Your MyHeritage ancestry DNA results include an Ethnicity Estimate, which is a percentage breakdown of your ancestral origins from 42 ethnicities, including Irish, British, Jewish, Italian, Japanese, and more.
MyHeritage’s unique reference populations have come from people who have lived in the same region for many generations and were selected on the basis that their backgrounds were genetically representative of their region.
My Ethnicity Estimate shows that I’m 100% European, but it also includes a percentage breakdown of the countries from which my DNA originates. As you can see, the majority of my heritage is Scandinavian and Irish, Scottish, and Welsh.
Click on any of the regions highlighted on the interactive map to learn more about your heritage and how the genetic marker of an ethnicity may have found its way into your DNA. You’ll also see some of your DNA matches that share this ethnicity.
Although you do get to learn the origins of your DNA, it would have been nice to have some information on my maternal haplogroups, which is determined by analyzing mtDNA. This would show the migrational patterns of my maternal line going back thousands of years. However, you do get some information on the global movements of your ancestors with Genetic Groups.
Going one step further than the Ethnicity Estimate. Genetic Groups indicate the specific geographic regions from which your ancestors originated, from 2,114 genetic groups. They differ from Ethnicity Estimates, in that a particular group can be composed of more than one ethnicity.
The founder populations are groups of people who lived in the same area for centuries, only marrying within that group or migrating as a group. Over time this forms unique genetic signatures that can be detected by the MyHeritage DNA test. There are no percentages with Genetic Groups – you are either in a group or you aren’t.
My results showed that I’m part of four genetic groups and by clicking on them on the interactive map, I could learn more information about each one. This includes the top places the genetic group resided in throughout recent history, common surnames and given names, common ethnicities, and related groups.
Your Genetic Group can also give you an idea of how your family migrated from one location to another, over time. The interactive map features hotspots and a timeline, which you can play to see how a Genetic Group is believed to have moved around the globe, going back hundreds of years.
Each Genetic Group is assigned a confidence level – low, medium, and high – and even being a member of a group with low confidence is interesting, as it shows more distant ancestry.
Genetic Groups were introduced in late 2020, but if you took your MyHeritage ancestry DNA test before then, it has been added for free to your ethnicity results. It is also available to anyone who has uploaded DNA data from another provider.
Once your DNA has been analyzed, MyHeritage searches for other users in their database whose DNA matches yours. The DNA Matching technology reveals the percentage of DNA you share with your matches, indicating how closely related you are.
You are not limited to DNA matches just to MyHeritage users, but also those who upload their DNA data from other providers to the MyHeritage database. This widens your matching pool, making it possible to discover even more potential relatives.
My DNA matches showed that there were 9,583 people in the MyHeritage database that I share DNA with. You’ll learn how much DNA you share with each match, the number of shared segments, and the largest section of shared DNA. Using this information, MyHeritage estimates your relationship.
Advanced DNA Tools
MyHeritage has a number of DNA tools that allow you to better understand how you share DNA with your matches and how your ethnicities are spread throughout the world.
Use the chromosome browser to select some of your DNA matches and see a visual representation of where on the chromosomes you share DNA segments. This can help you determine if you have a common ancestor with any of your DNA matches.
If you’re interested in seeing how your ethnicities are distributed around the world, the Ethnicities Map shows you the most common ethnicities in each country and the top countries for each ethnicity.
The final DNA tool is the AutoClusters feature, which automatically organizes your DNA matches into color-coded clusters that are likely to be descended from common ancestors. However, to access this feature, you’ll need a subscription.
Upgrade for Health Insights
Existing MyHeritage customers use their raw DNA data to gain health insights for a reduced price without the need to re-swab. With the health upgrade, you get 48 personalized health reports based on the latest scientific research into genetics and disease risk. As no new DNA sample is required, your results will be ready in just two to three days.
Genetic Risk reports are currently available for 21 conditions. They will tell you whether you have a decreased, average, or increased genetic risk of developing certain conditions by analyzing certain genetic variants in your DNA. By knowing your risk level you can make better decisions about managing your health in the future.
MyHeritage also offers polygenic risk reports, which assess your risk for developing conditions linked to variants on multiple genes. By analyzing thousands of variants, MyHeritage can calculate your polygenic risk score for seven conditions, including breast cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
The health upgrade also includes 27 Carrier Status Reports, which will tell you if you’re a carrier for certain congenital conditions that you can pass to your offspring if your partner is also a carrier. If you’re planning a family carrier testing from MyHeritage can tell you your risk of passing on cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs, sickle cell anemia, and many more.
Family Tree Software & Historical Records
MyHeritage has excellent family tree software, which allows you to build a family tree of up to 250 members for free.
I tested it out for myself and was pleased to see the information on my parents and grandparents I provided when registering my kit was already formed into a family tree. No software download is required, it’s all done online in your MyHeritage account.
Adding new members to the tree is very simple, and you can add as much detail as you like about each new addition to your tree. Smart Matches to relatives that appear in other users’ trees or in historical records are marked with an icon, which you can investigate further.
However, while you don’t need a subscription to view matching relatives in other family trees, you need to pay for the Complete plan to view matches to historical records.
Pay for a subscription to the genealogy service and you’ll get a bunch of additional benefits, including:
- Smart Matches to other family trees and record matches between historical records and individuals in your family tree.
- Learn about your ancestors via SuperSearch, a search engine of over 14 billion historical records, 52 million family trees, and more.
- Instant Discoveries allows you to add entire branches to your family tree with a single click
Reading Your Results – Report Arrived Quicker than Expected
In the instructions leaflet, it says results can take between 4-6 weeks. In a little under 3 weeks, I received an email notification that my DNA was being extracted. A week later I had my results.
The online dashboard – or ‘Davison Web Site’ – is easy to navigate and makes great use of visuals to help you understand your results at a first glance. Upon signing in, you’re given a summary of your ethnicity estimate and DNA matches.
You can click on the ‘View’ tabs on the right of the screen to see your full ethnicity estimate or all your DNA matches. For example, clicking on ‘View full estimate’, takes me to the dedicated Ethnicity Estimate page, where I can see the percentage breakdown of my heritage, along with the Genetic Groups my DNA fits into.
Clicking on one of the ethnicities takes me to a page with more information on that ethnicity. However, I found this information to be quite basic. When I selected my Greek and South Italian ethnicity all I was provided with was a bit about the culture and origins of the Ancient Greeks.
It would have been nice to have some deeper information, such as the genetic predispositions or traits associated with my ethnicities.
Overall, I was happy with the ancestry results. It was fascinating to know that the majority of my DNA is Scandinavian, knowing that my family has lived in the North East of England for at least five generations.
This recent ancestry was picked up by the Genetic Groups analysis, as was my Welsh heritage from my maternal line.
A really nice feature of Genetic Groups is the timeline, through which you can discover how your groups migrated across the world. It wasn’t an exact trace of my maternal line, but it still gave me an idea of when and where my ancestors may have lived.
Returning to the dashboard, you can also see a summary of your DNA Matches and how they are related to you. My results revealed I have 9,583 DNA matches, all of which are distant relatives.
Click onto your matches and you’ll see a full list of all your DNA matches from the MyHeritage database, which contains over 4 million samples. Listed with each DNA match is:
- A percentage of how much DNA you share
- The number of shared DNA segments, including the length of your longest shared segment
- Your estimated relationship e.g third cousin
- If your match has a family tree and if you share any ancestral places.
By reviewing your matches, you’ll see some additional information, including ancestral surnames and on which chromosomes your shared DNA is found. However, if you want to view shared ancestral places, a full list of shared DNA matches and ethnicities, or their family tree, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid subscription.
What’s nice about MyHeritage is you get regular emails when new matches to your DNA are found. This is great if you’re building a family tree, looking to make new family connections, or are just interested in seeing how far around the world your DNA has spread.
That’s the entirety of my results. I would like to see more information about the migration patterns of my ancestors or more information about my ancestry from my maternal and paternal lines, but MyHeritage currently only analyzes autosomal DNA.
However, the ancestry report does provide some interesting insights into where my ancestors came from, as well as giving me a great start to my genealogy journey. Additionally, you can bet more with a paid subscription and there is a free 14-day trial of plans but bear in mind that it will revert to a paid subscription once the trial is over.
Low Starting Price, Until You Add a Subscription
The base price of the Ancestry test is well below the sticker price of many other ancestry tests and just $79.00. I’d also say they offer good value-for-money, with plenty of interesting ancestry insights, DNA matches, and the option to start your family tree for free.
However, the cost rises significantly if you add the cost of a genealogy subscription that allows you to build an extended family tree and access records for potential matches from MyHeritage’s historical database.
However, if you’re serious about building a family tree going back generations, you’re likely to benefit from a MyHeritage subscription, which gives you access to 14 billion historical records, 4 billion people profiles, and 52 million family trees
MyHeritage also offers affordable health insights from your existing DNA samples. You can use raw DNA data from other testing providers, but MyHeritage users get a significant discount on a health upgrade.
MyHeritage’s DNA tests are available worldwide, except for Israel, and you can pay for them in your local currency via PayPal, credit card, wire transfer, or check.
The Support is There
MyHeritage publishes a frequently asked questions page, which is pretty extensive, providing answers for any query I could think of, as well as plenty I couldn’t. Topics covered include DNA, family tree builder, discoveries and research, health, subscriptions, and so much more.
Plus, there is a knowledge base, which includes articles and webinars that are particularly useful to those, building family trees.
If you need a little more hands-on support, you can call the support phone number relevant to your location, toll-free. The phone lines in my region are open 24 hours a day six days a week (with Sunday as the only exception).
I called on a Saturday afternoon and was speaking to an agent within about 10 minutes, who was able to answer all of my questions about MyHeritage’s subscription plans in a friendly and informative manner.
There is also an online form for email support, but it isn’t easy to find, which I found strange as not everyone wants to talk to an agent on the phone. I eventually found it in the FAQ section, so fired off a question about how accurate the ethnicity estimate is and could any ethnicity have been missed?
It was two days before I received a response, but the support agent was friendly and provided a thorough answer to my question, as well as directing me to a video, which I may have found useful if I still had questions.
Overall, I was impressed with the customer support from MyHeritage, I have no questions that went unanswered, either by the knowledge base or customer support agents.
However, not all customers have been pleased with the service from MyHeritage. Some have complained of being automatically charged for a full year’s subscription (without their permission) when their free trial ended. But this seems to be a rare occurrence, with the vast majority of reviews from customers being very positive.
Ancestry Results at Low Cost, or Build a Family Tree with a Subscription
When it comes to determining your ancestry, MyHeritage has a lot to offer.
You discover a percentage breakdown of your ethnicity, as well as insights into which genetic groups you belong to, from 2,114 reference populations.
You also get matches to those in the MyHeritage database who share segments of your DNA. You’ll discover how you’re related and have the option to contact your newly found family members.
If you’re keen on learning more about your family journey, MyHeritage has excellent genealogy software, which you can test out for free to build a tree with 250 members.
To access its huge database of over 14 billion historical records and other premium features, you’ll need to sign up for a paid subscription, which can be pricey. However, you can take advantage of a free 14-day trial to see if it’s the right family tree builder for you.
The only thing missing from MyHeritage is a deeper ancestry analysis. As they only analyze your autosomal DNA, you won’t get insights into your maternal and paternal lineages. However, you do get an indication of how your ancestors may have migrated around the world over the last few hundred years with Genetic Groups.
That being said, MyHeritage does offer one of the best ancestry DNA tests available. It provides plenty of interesting insights into your heritage and provides a great starting point for your genealogy journey.
How do I take a MyHeritage DNA test?
The ancestry DNA test requires a cheek-swab sample, which involves rubbing a textured cotton bud on the inside of your cheek. It only takes around 30 seconds and is completely painless.
In my experience, it’s easier than spitting over and over into a tube – as you do with AncestryDNA – but you still need to avoid eating, drinking, and brushing your teeth 30 minutes before you collect your sample.
How accurate is MyHeritage?
In your ancestral Ethnicity Estimate, you’re given a percentage of DNA that derives from different regions. The higher the percentage, the more confident you can be in the accuracy.
However, it’s important to remember that, although your Ethnicity Estimate is generated by a highly accurate statistical algorithm, they are still estimates.
Also, DNA is not the same as heritage, and that the further back in your family tree you go, the less likely you are to inherit DNA from your ancestors.
Can you upload raw DNA data from other providers to MyHeritage?
If you have already taken a DNA test with another provider you can upload your raw DNA data to MyHeritage for free DNA matches, as well as matches to users who uploaded their data from other services.
MyHeritage has a wide international reach, with availability in 42 languages, giving you a great chance of being matched with potential relatives living in other countries. Plus, you’ll also get an ethnicity estimate which pinpoints your ancestry across 42 ethnicities.
How much do MyHeritage’s services cost? (Any discounts?)
An ancestry test from MyHeritage is competitively priced at $79.00, which is cheaper than most.
Keep up to the date with the latest deals and sales from MyHeritage, through our dedicated coupon page: https://www.dnaweekly.com/reviews/myheritagedna/coupons/
Who should consider taking a MyHeritage test?
If you’re interested in discovering your ancestry for an affordable price, MyHeritage DNA is one of your best options.
MyHeritage also combines its ancestry DNA test with a genealogy subscription service, making it a good choice if you want to build an extensive online family tree and watch it grow. These subscription costs are also more affordable than those of its chief rival, AncestryDNA.