GEDCOM versions

GEDCOM Versions
dateversionstatusbrief notes
19841.0proposed standardFirst Version
1985-122.0standardPAF 2.0
1987-022.1standardPAF 2.1
1987-10-093.0standardlineage-linked form
1989-08-044.0standard 
1991-09-255.0standardlineage-linked structures
1992-09-185.1draft
1993-11-045.3draftUnicode, multimedia, name parts, schema (abandoned)
1995-08-215.4draftcitation-source-repository model, more name parts, submission record (obsolete)
1995-12-115.5standardstructured addresses, more name parts
1996-01-025.5standardGEDCOM 5.5 with errata
1996-01-105.5errataGEDCOM 5.5 errata sheet
1999-10-025.5.1standardUTF-8, email, URLs, geographic coordinates
2000-12-185.5.2unpublished draftno more escape sequences, GEDXML
2018-05-105.5.1 AEspecial releaseAnnotated Edition; annotations & corrections.
2019-10-025.5.5standardMaintenance release. Quality. Simpler & Stricter.

notes

best information

The above table presents the best information available.
GEDCOM was originally created by FamilySearch, but FamilySearch is unable to provide early specifications, or even an overview of GEDCOM versions.

draft confusion

GEDCOM 5.3 is a draft that has been used, by Family Tree Maker for Windows version 1.0 through 3.40 and by Family Origins version 1 through 3. GEDCOM 5.3 is also the basis of CommSoft's Event GEDCOM, an alternative to the lineage-linked form only ever supported by Roots IV, Roots V, Family Gathering and Ultimate Family Tree. Event GEDCOM files are rare, and backward compatible with lineage-linked GEDCOM files. GEDCOM 5.5.1 was never a draft, but was and remains incorrectly labeled as such.

Later versions of FamilySearch GEDCOM claim that GEDCOM version 1 and 2.0 were merely drafts, but that is not true. FamilySearch proposed GEDCOM 1 as a standard, and when the Family History System (FHS), an MS-DOS application created by Phillip Brown, implemented it, FamilySearch did not protest. FamilySearch did not only GEDCOM 2.0 forward as standard, FamilySearch themselves implemented GEDCOM 2.0 in Personal Ancestral File (PAF) 2.0 and later.

GEDCOM 2.x

Additional GEDCOM 2.x versions seems to correspond with PAF releases, i.e. GEDCOM 2.1 corresponds with PAF 2.1, GEDCOM 2.2 corresponds with PAF 2.2, and so on. There are GEDCOM-L messages about GEDCOM 2.3 and 2.4 that conflicts with the table presented here; according to these messages, 2.3 and 2.4 would have been released before 2.1.

GEDCOM 4.x

There are GEDCOM-L messages that indicate the existence of GEDCOM 4.1 and 4.2. Nothing definite is known.

GEDCOM 5.5.2

GEDCOM 5.5.2 (18 Dec CE) is better known as GEDCOM 5.6. GEDCOM 5.6 was never released and only leaked more than a decade later.

GEDXML, GEDCOM XML, GEDCOM X

FamilySearch created and published several other specifications. The names of these specifications suggest that these may be newer versions of GEDCOM, but they are not. GEDXML, GEDCOM XML and GEDCOM X are not versions of GEDCOM, but GEDCOM alternatives.