What is a Second Cousin?

A relative is considered a second cousin if you and that person share a grandparent. For instance, your first cousin, who is one generation removed from you, is your father’s first cousin. 

Once removed, your second cousin is the person who shares a second cousin with your mother. You and your second cousins share unrelated grandparents, but you share great-grandparents. 

In other words, the parents of your second cousins are not siblings but rather your cousins themselves. Your second cousins are related to you through their parents. 

Your relationship with your second cousins is not as close as the one you share with your first cousins because there is an extra generation between you and your second cousins. 

Let’s take a closer look and learn how a second cousin is related to you.

So… What exactly is a second cousin?

Someone related to you and shares about 13 percent of your DNA is considered your second cousin. Even though you might not be as close to your second cousins as you are to your first cousins, you are still more closely related to them than you are to the majority of other people. 

This is especially true if you have more than one set of second cousins. Interestingly, people with different sets of first cousins can look remarkably similar. 

First cousins share approximately 25 percent of the same DNA, whereas second cousins only share around 13 percent of the same DNA. 

As a result, the degree of genetic similarity between two people who are only second cousins is roughly equivalent to that between first cousins. 

Despite this, second cousins can still be very close relatives and even have a physical appearance similar to one another.

5 Ways to find your second cousins

1: Ask your parents

In most cases, asking your parents is the most effective method for locating your second cousins. This is because they will typically have a reasonable understanding of who your cousins are and how you are related to them. 

If you’re fortunate, your parents will already have a family tree that you can use to locate your second cousins. You can use this tree to get in touch with them. 

If they don’t have one already, they might be able to put you in touch with other relatives who can help you build one if that’s the case. 

In addition, your parents might have old photographs and anecdotes about your second cousins that they can tell you, providing a clearer picture of who they are and what they’re like.

2: Ask your grandparents

Another method for tracking down your second cousins is to inquire about the individuals in question with your grandparents. There is a good chance they are familiar with your second cousins and how you can get in touch with them. 

There is also a good chance that they know how to contact your second cousins. Your grandparents may be able to enlighten you with information about your second cousins that you were previously unaware of. 

This information may include names, birth dates, and places of residence. One more approach you can take to find your second cousins is to search through old family photographs. 

If you find photos of your parents or grandparents that also include people whose faces you do not recognize, the people in question may be your second cousins.

3: Use an online genealogy tool like Ancestry.com

Utilizing an online genealogy tool such as Ancestry.com is yet another choice that you have. You can search the website’s database for matches after entering information about your ancestors on the accompanying website. 

You also have the option of contacting the genealogical society in your area. These organizations have access to a wide variety of resources, such as public records and family trees, which they can use to assist you in locating your relatives. 

Attending family reunions or events where members of your extended family are gathered, such as weddings or funerals, can also increase the likelihood of finding your second cousins. 

An additional helpful resource in this regard is an online genealogy tool such as Ancestry.com, which can be accessed online.

4: Use a family tree software program like Family Tree Maker

Family tree software programs such as Family Tree Maker are an excellent means by which one can keep track of their family history and share information regarding that history with other members of their family. 

The first thing you need to do is go through the program and key in every piece of information you have about your ancestors. 

This can include names, dates, and locations like births, weddings, and deaths. In addition to that, you can attach photos and notes. 

After you input all of the data, the program will allow you to generate several different reports to look over. 

For instance, you can make a family tree diagram or compile a list of all of your family members. You can also use the program to look up specific information about your ancestors and use that to build family trees.

5: Contact a professional genealogist

If you are interested in finding ways to get in touch with your second cousins, you might want to think about working with an experienced genealogist

A genealogist can assist you in researching your family’s history and locating any living relatives, even second cousins. You will need to provide the genealogist with as much information about your family before getting started. 

This information should include names, birth dates, and locations where family members lived. After gathering all this information, the genealogist will conduct research in public archives and then construct a family tree. 

There is always the possibility that the genealogist will be able to make contact with distant relatives whose names do not appear in public records. 

Suppose you are unable to pay for the services of a professional genealogist. In that case, there are several resources available to you on the internet that can assist you in locating your second cousins.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a first cousin and a second cousin?

First cousins are the children of a person’s aunt or uncle. Second cousins are the children of a person’s first cousin. 

The difference between first and second cousins is that first cousins are related to you by blood, while second cousins are only related to you by marriage. First cousins share about 25% of their DNA, while second cousins only share about 13%. 

This means that first cousins are more likely to have similar physical features, such as hair color and eye color. It also means that first cousins are more likely to have similar personality traits.

What is the relationship between first cousins once removed?

First cousins once removed is a term used to describe the relationship between two people who share a common ancestor but are not directly related. The term can describe either blood relatives or those related by marriage.

For example, if your mother’s sister’s daughter is your first cousin once removed, she would be considered your second cousin. Likewise, if your father’s brother’s son is your first cousin once removed, he would be regarded as your second cousin. 

The key difference between first cousins once removed and second cousins are that they do not share the same genetic kinship.

How common are marriages between first cousins

While it may seem like marriages between first cousins are common, they are pretty rare. For example, in the United States, only about 3% of all marriages are between first cousins. 

And in some parts of the world, such as China and South Korea, marriages between first cousins are illegal. 

For one thing, there is a higher risk of genetic defects when first cousins have children together. In addition, marrying a first cousin can lead to inbreeding and make it challenging to find suitable spouses for future generations.


Now that you know what a second cousin is, you can begin to search for your second cousin. If you cannot find them yourself, consider hiring a professional genealogist or using one of the many available online resources. 

Remember that while first cousins share about 25% of their DNA, second cousins only share about 13%. 

This means that they may not share many physical or personality traits. Still, second cousins can be close relatives, and they often share many family traditions and memories.

bryan rucker
Written by Brian Jackson

Brian is an expert in genealogy and family history tracing. He has traced his own family history for several generations and continues to trace as far back as he can. He writes guides to share his experience. Read more of Brian's articles.