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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 general public. To further that objective, all members of APG agree to adhere to a Code of Ethics and Professional Practices.

Purpose: The APG Code of Ethics and Professional Practices 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.

Consistent with these purposes, I agree to:

  • Present research results and opinions in a clear, well-organized manner;
  • Refrain from withholding, suppressing, or knowingly misquoting or misinterpreting sources or data;
  • Report appropriately qualified genealogical conclusions in writing based on the weight of the evidence with fully and accurately cited sources;
  • Represent my abilities, services, and credentials honestly, avoiding the use of misleading or exaggerated statements;
  • Engage in sufficient continuing education to maintain competence and comply with applicable requirements;
  • Prepare and abide by written agreements regarding applicable project scope, fees, charges, payment structures, and deliverables without concealment or misrepresentation;
  • Disclose potential conflicts of interest;
  • Maintain confidentiality of client communications and research, except as permitted in writing by the client or required by court or professional disciplinary proceedings;
  • Treat information concerning living people with appropriate discretion;
  • Refrain from violating or encouraging others to violate laws or regulations concerning copyright, rights to privacy, business practices, or other pertinent subjects;
  • Refrain from mutilating, rearranging, or removing from their proper custodians printed, original, microfilmed, or electronic records;
  • Give proper credit to the work of others and refrain from plagiarism;
  • Refrain from soliciting established clients of another researcher through denigration, violation of laws or regulations, or other improper means;
  • Refrain from behaviors or statements that malign or are maliciously calculated to injure the profession; individual genealogists; genealogical associations, programs, or educational organizations; or the Association of Professional Genealogists.

What Does This Mean for Consumers?

It means that any APG member you work with has voluntarily agreed to abide by our Code of Ethics and Professional Practices based on professionalism and protection of both the member and the public. If you believe that an APG member with whom you have a written agreement has violated one or more articles of the Code of Ethics, you can file an ethics complaint alleging a violation(s) through APG.

The complaint and disciplinary procedures accomplish five things:

  • Maintain a high professional standard
  • Increase consumer confidence
  • Provide a fair process for handling of complaints against members
  • Identify members who will benefit from additional professional development
  • Identify those committing serious violations of the Code of Ethics

Who can file a complaint?

  • Clients who believe an APG member has not performed as expected or has failed to complete a genealogical service (research report, seminar, etc.). The individual must have been a member of APG at the time the agreement was made. A client is any individual who has an agreement in writing (e.g. letters, emails, or formal contracts) with an APG member.
  • The APG Board or the Executive Committee when other claimed violations of the APG Code of Ethics are suspected.

What we won't review

  • Allegations concerning verbal agreements between a member and another party. There must be something in writing (contract, email, etc.) that demonstrates the scope of the agreement.
  • Allegations against a member for non-genealogical business agreements such as non-payment of rents or other general business not directly related to genealogical business.
  • Allegations of a personal nature not related to genealogical activity.
  • Allegations of activity that occurred more than twelve (12) months prior to the date of the complaint. The last contact between the two sides to the complaint should be no more than twelve (12) months prior to the complaint filing date.
  • Allegations against an individual based solely on his/her position in a corporation unless the complainant can show that the alleged problem is directly attributable to the action of the member.

If you believe an APG member has violated this code

  • Contact the office of the Executive Director (ED) by submitting the online Complaint Form. You will then receive instructions for submitting evidence in support of your claim, including copies of written agreements, records of payment, emails or other correspondence, and any other items that will help APG’s Professional Review Committee (PRC) understand your complaint against the member.
  •  The ED will convey the materials to the PRC who will determine whether the matter meets the criteria required for a review.
  • The ED will advise the complainant whether or not the PRC accepts the issue for formal review. At this point the member will be advised of your complaint and will be asked to respond through the ED to the PRC.

What to Expect

The investigation may

  • Come down in favor of the complainant and may include disciplinary action and/or how the member can rectify the situation.
  • Come down in favor of the member and set out why the complaint will not be upheld.
  • Reach no conclusion due to lack of concrete evidence or other extenuating circumstances.


  • All complaints brought to the APG Professional Review Committee are considered confidential. All parties (complainant, member, and APG's PRC and Executive Committee) are expected to not disclose any details of this complaint or its outcome with anyone other than through APG's Executive Director.