APG Code of Ethics and Professional Practices

One of the principal objectives of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) is to encourage high standards of ethical conduct and professional practice in dealings with clients and other members of the public. To further that objective, all members of APG agree to adhere to the APG Code of Ethics and Professional Practices (hereinafter, Code of Ethics). If you believe that one of our members has violated the Code, please visit our Filing A Complaint page.

Purpose: The Code of Ethics serves to promote: (1) a truthful approach to genealogy, family history, and local history; (2) the trust and security of genealogical consumers; and (3) careful and respectful treatment of records, repositories and their staffs, other professionals, and genealogical organizations and associations.

Code of Ethics and Professional Practices

Published 1 July 2024; revisions approved by the APG Board of Directors 18 April 2024.

I agree to:

1. Communicate genealogical work in a clear, well-organized manner using evidence from reliable and fully cited sources, giving proper credit to work that is not my own, without withholding or knowingly misrepresenting sources or data;

2. Represent my abilities, credentials and services accurately, and avoid the use of misleading or exaggerated statements;

3. Engage in sufficient continuing education to maintain competence and comply with applicable requirements;

4. Prepare and abide by written agreements regarding scope, timeframes, deliverables, fees, expenses, payment structures, ownership and disclosure, while keeping the client informed of progress or delays;

5. Disclose potential conflicts of interest;

6. Take appropriate measures to safeguard information concerning living people, to maintain confidentiality of data, research, and client communications, and to obtain informed consent before using or publicly sharing information;

7. Comply with terms of service, privacy policies, laws and regulations, and applicable rules and guidelines, including those concerning copyright, privacy, data protection, and business practices, and refrain from encouraging others to violate them;

8. Refrain from mutilating or rearranging records, or removing them from their proper custodians;

9. Refrain from soliciting established clients of another researcher through denigration or other improper means;

10. Treat other genealogists, genealogical organizations, and the profession with civility and respect, engaging in fair criticism while refraining from statements that malign or purposely injure.

Background on Latest Changes

The previous code was last revised in 2016. Since then, the landscape of professional genealogy has changed, most notably in the proliferation of the use of DNA by genealogists to assist law enforcement investigations, greater interaction on social media between members with each other and the public, explosive growth in commercial genealogy, and more recently the rise of generative artificial intelligence and its use in genealogical work.

The Code of Ethics Review Committee sought to ensure through its recommendations that the Code be:

  • Meaningful and applicable to members wherever their country of residence
  • Clear to members and the public
  • Concise, with emphasis on simplicity over detailed lists of permissions or prohibitions
  • Practicable by members
  • Enforceable by the Professional Review Committee
  • Evergreen in its principles and wording
  • Evidence-type agnostic
  • Able to address current issues in the field affecting members

Learn more about the committee and its process for determining the revisions.