Ancestral File Number

The Ancestral File Number (AFN) is a unique identifier used primarily to link individuals listed in the International Genealogical Index to a specific genealogical record for that individual which is stored in Ancestral File, the International Genealogical Index and on the Church genealogical website FamilySearch.Org. While the original objective of the AFN system was that each Ancestral File Number would be unique, this is no longer the case today. In fact, one individual referred to in electronic genealogical records such as the IGI, may have several AFNs assigned, due to multiple genealogical information submissions by the same or many individuals. Submissions to which AFN´s have been or will be assigned are not vetted for correctness or to avoid duplicates prior to publication and entry into Church genealogical databases.

Ancestral File Numbers are being replaced by Personal Identification Numbers (or PIN#´s), which have been utilized in connection with the Pedigree Resource File since its inception. However, and Personal Ancestral File (PAF) applications continue to support the use of the AFN, in particular when referencing older genealogical records.

AFN Format

An Ancestral File Number will typically consist of four capital letters or digits followed by a hyphen which in turn is followed by two to three concluding digits or capital letters. An AFN will not contain A, E, I, O, U, or Y (vowels).

Ancestral File Numbers currently have the following format:

  1. AFN: 20V4-RND (example)


The Ancestral File Number was originally conceived of as an indexing tool for genealogical research, similar to other indexing systems such as the Dewey classification system for publications and subjects. It was first utlized in ???? by the Genealogical Society of Utah.

Best Practices for Usage During Transition to PIN

When a genealogical record has been located which after further scrutiny appears to be the most correct of all related records which have been assigned Ancestral File Numbers, it is good practice to include a reference to the AFN of that record or individual when submitting newer or more detailed genealogical records to the Pedigree Resource File or similar genealogical databases. This cross-referencing technique can help future genealogists and those using the new records to avoid relying on existing parallel submissions which are known to be less reliable.


This page was last modified on 20 November 2011, at 20:51.

Note: Content found in this wiki may not always reflect official Church information.