Quick tip – Not many Dutch DNA cousins

When you take a DNA-test for genealogical purposes, don’t be surprised if you don’t find many Dutch matches. Because DNA testing isn’t very popular in the Netherlands, there will be few Dutch people in the databases. So not finding many Dutch matches doesn’t mean that your paper trail that shows a Dutch ancestor is wrong.

Why DNA testing isn’t popular in the Netherlands

DNA spiral

DNA methulation. Credits: Christoph Bock, via Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA)

I think there are several reasons for this:

  • Many people are unaware of the possibilities that DNA can offer. If they heard of DNA testing, often it is just Y-chromome testing for the male line. Not many Dutch genealogists know about autosomal DNA testing and that women can test too.
  • Dutch people care about their privacy. Many do not feel comfortable that their DNA is out there because they don’t know what will be done with it. People worry that if their data falls into the wrong hands, the medical information in their DNA may be used against them.
  • It’s considered rude to ask people to test for you. Asking someone to take a DNA test to help you with your genealogy is like asking if you can read their private diary. It’s considered an intrusion of privacy and can harm the relationship with the person you asked, especially when asking people you don’t know when (distant cousins, for example).
  • There aren’t any Dutch companies to test with. The major DNA testing companies are Ancestry, 23andMe, and FamilyTreeDNA. FamilyTreeDNA was the first to ship to the Netherlands, and at reasonable rates, so was a favorite among early Dutch testers.  With choosing a testing company, privacy comes into play again: many Dutch people don’t trust the US with their personal data. The Snowden affair, which revealed just how much data the US is collecting, including data about European citizens in corporate databases, makes them wary of allowing an American corporation to have their data.
  • Most Dutch people have pretty complete trees and don’t feel a pressing need to do DNA testing to solve brick walls. Dutch records are excellent, so most brick walls are at least six generations ago while autosomal DNA testing is most useful for the most recent generations. Also, adoptions are rare in the Netherlands, so few people are looking for their biological family.

Personally, I decided that the benefits for my research outweighed the risks and I tested at all four companies. Have you done a DNA test? Were you worried about privacy risks? Did you find any Dutch matches?

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She holds the Certified Genealogist credential from the Board for Certification of Genealogists and has a post-graduate diploma in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee. She has been doing genealogy for over 30 years and helps people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. A large factor is absolutely the big prices of testing, Dutchies are cheap, very cheap, that is also in their DNA !!!!!

  2. I have tested with all 3 companies too, but the genealogical results have disappointed me. All show matches but when I contacted persons we couldn’t figure out the common ancestor. So I’m not convinced this dragnet kind of DNA testing is usefull. One intriging aspect is the fact that all 3 companies tell me I have ancestors in the UK, which until now hasn’t shown up in my genealogical research at all. Another method, which might offer more results, is when you want to establish if you are related to another person (niece/nephew of person with same lastname) and you both take a test, but I have no experience my self with this method.

    For Dutch and Belgians genealogists interested in genetic genealogy: on March 15 in Antwerpen, Maarten Larmuseau (of KU Leuven) will speak on the “50 jaar Familiekunde (in) Vlaanderen” congres. His presentation (in Dutch) is entitled “Hidden in DNA, the sense (and non-sense) of genetic genealogy”. For more info see http://www.familiekunde-vlaanderen.be/50jaar/zondag/sprekers

    • Hi coret sounds english… But i found is french… http://www.heraldrysinstitute.com/cognomi/Coret/France/idc/684801/lang/en/ here is the page where i found it.. The names alike this name are even more southern… It could have been from a family outside of europe… Perhaps its why you cant find easily information…

      A trail from france to Engeland is logical… Many french went to Engeland arount the same time many norman found Engeland as Well and fought from there many french/ english left the Islands to beter places in the north of europe… Holland Sweden and germany were common to go to…

      I found many of my dutch family members in Engeland but from around 1400 and earlier…

      Perhaps it helps you to find more alike names with variety to this name… Then you can track down more members that used the same name and are family but with different vowels etc to this name…

      Good Luck!

    • Pierre Goolaerts says

      Bob, We are more than 6 years later now.
      Do you still think so that DNA testing is not helpful for us Dutch?

  3. Bart Lenselink says

    I am one of those Dutchies who took DNA tests not too long ago. My DNA has been tested by both FTDNA and the National Geographic´s Geno 2.0 project. I uploaded the Geno 2.0 results to FTDNA and found a 3rd cousin, a 5th cousin and a 5th cousin once removed who now have a papertrail supporting a common ancestor or ancestor pair. But many more matches still have to be confirmed by a proper papertrail.

  4. I have tested at two companies and I had seven family members tested also. They all want to keep their privacy. So no one’s name is connected with their tests. The only time I gave my real name was when I paid for the dna kits. My sister’s are DC and VC and mom is VMCJ, their initials. But when the results came in, these initials were shown to be related to Ed C, me.

    Let me know if any Van Dien (s) get tested. Thanks for your blog, Ed

  5. Jack TAYLOR says

    I have tested at FTDNA with Y-DNA & the newer Autosomal. Results are interesting, but not easily understood. Of the two I recommend the Autosomal for fast results. It only goes back 2-3 hundred years, but for me it gets a lot of hits. When I first saw the hits in the 2-4 cousin range most did not correspond with any of my paper trail findings. But, over time, the ones I have been able to find paper trails prove to be just as the test predicted.

    My Dutch lines are through my mother’s side. I have 23 lines that trace back to New Nethrlands (NY, NJ of the 1600’s). They were Euroopean Immigrants, mostly from NL, before the English stopped immigration from NL in the late 1600’s.

  6. I have done DNA testing with Ancestry.com, and no, I have not found matches with anyone in the Netherlands. However, I was matched with a woman from Clymer, NY who descends from a common Huinink ancestor.

    I persuaded my uncle to contribute his Y chromosome data to FTDNA, mostly because I have a roadblock with my surname and would like to find people with a Y chromosome match who might know more about the ancestry of that line.

    I worry about privacy a bit more than my friends, but I’m more concerned that what I post online not always be able to be connected with other things I post in different contexts. I would rather that my customers not be able to find my fanfiction, for instance. When it comes to DNA, I feel like genealogists of the future will value our DNA data like we value photos of our ancestors. (Why, oh why, did Arend Freers never have his picture taken?)

  7. Virgil Hoftiezer says

    My wife and I have both just tested with Ancestry.DNA and are awaiting results. Just attended the NFGS and RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City and are very enthused about the potential Genetic Genealogy offers. We will test with the other two companies, as well as submit results to GEDmatch and family groups, etc. As more and more people test (as share results and trees) the more matches will show up. As expect more markers to be tested eventually. Of course there are three types of DNA testing and each provides different kinds of information. The reason you test decides which company to use as all three companies report the results differently, as well.

  8. Yvette, you say in the article that Ancestry does not ship to the Netherlands, but you also say you tested with all three companies. So how did you do that?

  9. Privacy concerns are nice but can you be 100% that the blood drawn at the hospital is secure from DNA testing? There are many ways to get DNA without you knowing it. Modifying DNA is already a reality. So what the heck go for it. I have tested with 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and FTDNA and won’t test with all the “me too” companies coming along now. I have a 1st cousin who tested so this helps with figuring out what comes from Maternal side (most likely). Sometimes I think the DNA is overblown for what you get unless you want to test a paper trail. But back into the early 1700s is alot of paper trails to test personally. DNA doesn’t overcome the problems with other peoples’ research.

    • Not all concerns are rational. And Dutch hospitals would be bound by Dutch law, including regarding information security and privacy.

      • Elizabeth lees says

        Hi my name is Elizabeth , I do not know my father only his first name. He was in the Dutch merchant navy. I would love to see if I have got any family in Holland . Do you think if I did a DNA test this would help? Regards Elizabeth

  10. Teresa Hartung says

    I had wonderful luck with the DNA testing for my Dutch ancestors. I live in the US and was tracking, what I had hoped, was the correct Dutch line in Michigan. Thanks to the testing I matched with a “cousin” that shared her tree and some awesome leads that I’m still working!!! She also is in the US and had not realized my great grandmother and her sister had migrated to the US as well as their brother, her ancestor (they had settled in different states). Her information validated my line and I was thrilled!

  11. This is a nice explanation. I have tested my great-uncle, who is the son of a first generation Dutch immigrant, and a German mother. I have a very extensive genealogy from his side of the family, but I suppose I was interested in “verifying” it with DNA. I only have German matches for him. I am not sure I’ve seen one single Dutch match. I guess I will have to be patient and wait for the DNA bug to catch on in the Netherlands 🙂

  12. Mary Ostrem says

    I did 23andme. My grandfather on my dad’s side came to the United States from the Netherlands with his parents and sister when he was 7 years old. I had my DNA tested after my dad had passed away. I was surprised not to see any Dutch on the report and found this article, which put me at ease. I like that the Dutch are private – it explains my grandfather’s personality perfectly!

  13. This is interesting to hear, Yvette – we’ve seen some really good results from people who’ve used our kits, including all around Europe. Would you be interested in potentially trying one out to see how we measure up on the Dutch matches from your perspective? Our research partnerships mean that we are generally considered the most detailed test on the consumer market so it would be great to get your opinion! Let us know if you’d be interested?


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