If you are used to DNA testing, you are aware that results are not always what they seem to be. Are you also aware that regulations vary from one country to another ? Do you know that in France, it was illegal to have your DNA tested ?
What’s the law in France ?
DNA testing is banned in France since 1994. The only way you can have your DNA tested is by a court order (for a paternity search for example), or for medical reasons.
if you are convicted of illegally using a DNA test you will be fined 3750 €.
Does the law stop French genealogists using recreational DNA ?
The answer is no. As a matter of fact, more and more French genealogists are ordering DNA kits. So are French genealogists being rebellious ? Maybe a little, after all, it’s in our genes. But as none of the companies that sell DNA are in France, there is nothing that a court can do.
Recreational DNA is doing its big debuts in French genealogy. To the extent that Geneanet, the leading genealogy company in France, has launch the debate. According to Christophe Becker, General Manager of Geneanet :
With these kinds of laws, our country is taking the risk of missing out on scientific advances in population knowledge that could be achieved by allowing such large-scale testing.Guillaume de Morant, La Revue française de généalogie, ADN généalogique interdit en France : Geneanet relance le débat, published April 10th, 2018 [online] https://www.rfgenealogie.com/s-informer/infos/nouveautes/adn-genealogique-interdit-en-france-geneanet-relance-le-debat
Could DNA testing be permitted in France ?
The answer is yes. On March 27th, 2019, a delegation of representatives of the French Federation of Genealogy, Filae (the second largest commercial genealogy company in France) and FamilySearch has been heard by a commission of the National Assembly On this occasion, Congressman Jean-Louis Touraine announced
A probable authorization via the three ministries concerned: Research, Health and Justice.Guillaume de Morant, La Revue française de généalogie, Vers une légalisation des tests ADN généalogiques ? published March 27th, 2019 [online] https://www.rfgenealogie.com/s-informer/infos/nouveautes/l-autorisation-des-tests-adn-genealogiques-serieusement-envisagee-a-l-assemblee
Will you find French cousins ?
The use of DNA testing in genealogy is still confidential in France, compared to the US or UK. So the results, that are based upon databases developed from tested DNAs, are not as precise as they could be for an American genealogist.
For instance, I had my DNA tested. 50% is from the British islands, which is correct as all my maternal ancestry line is from Brittany. The other half is said to be from Spain and Italy. Well, the most southerly where I went with my ancestors is in Lot-et-Garonne, 159 miles from the Spanish border. Maybe I have some Spanish genes. But it also means that there are not enough data yet to be more precise. We, as French genealogists, are a lot to have this answer that we are both Spanish and Italian.
Concretely, you may find matches with French genealogists, but do not be disappointed by the lack of French DNA trees online. It is a new process here.
If you do not find a match, it doesn’t mean you don’t have French cousins. Along with DNA testing, use the good old fashion online family tree !