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How to transfer Animal Crossing save data to another Switch

In many cases you'll have to transfer your island, not just a villager.
By
December 6, 2022

To answer an important question upfront: no, you can’t simply copy/duplicate data from Animal Crossing: New Horizons to other devices, presumably because that would create chaos in multiplayer. But you can migrate either your villager or an entire island to another Switch — here’s how.

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To transfer an entire island, you'll have to download and run the Island Transfer Tool (found on the eShop) on both Switches. If you're just moving a villager, you can start by choosing Move me to a new island in Animal Crossing's Settings menu on the source console. You can only move an island representative by transferring the whole island.


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How to transfer Animal Crossing save data to another Switch

On an Animal Crossing New Horizons beach

If you want to move your save data, you’ll have to transfer your entire island, which will only be playable on the new Switch. Along with the island, you’ll be migrating the island representative, all items and customization, and all human and NPC residents. If you have the Happy Home Paradise DLC, you’ll need that installed on the new Switch before it can be played there.

Here’s what you’ll need to do to complete the transfer:

  • Make sure you’ve updated Animal Crossing to the latest version on both Switches.
  • Download the Island Transfer Tool from the Nintendo eShop on both systems, and launch it. Note that if you use the same Nintendo account to download the app on the two consoles, you’ll need to select an alternate user to open it on the source system.
  • Follow prompts, then select Continue > Let’s Begin.
  • On the source Switch, select Source, then Yes to confirm the island you’re transferring.
  • On the second Switch, select Target.
  • Choose Continue on the source console, then Proceed on the target.
  • When the option appears, pick Transfer data on the source Switch, followed by Proceed on the target. The transfer should finally get underway.
  • Once the transfer completes, launch Animal Crossing on the target system with the user account you plan to stick with there.
  • Choose Existing data when asked which data you want to play with.
  • If there are multiple residents to choose from, pick one. Be careful here, as whatever you choose will be linked to your user account.

The steps above assume you want to keep the original Switch playable in your household. If you’re planning to ditch it entirely, the steps are similar, except that you need to transfer user data between consoles before using the Island Transfer Tool.

How to move your Animal Crossing villager to another Switch

A villager in Animal Crossing New Horizons

If all you want to do is move an individual villager/resident over, the process is a little simpler. They’ll be living on a different island, but they’ll get to keep their home, most of their items, and any Happy Home Paradise save data you might have. You’ll need Happy Home Paradise on the second Switch to unlock related in-game content.

There’s a big caveat here. If you’re planning to move the island representative, you’ll have to transfer the entire island instead, following earlier steps.

Otherwise, to transfer a single resident:

  • Update Animal Crossing to the latest version on both Switches.
  • On the source console, launch the game, and choose the resident you’re going to move.
  • Open the Settings menu (the minus button).
  • Select Move to a new island, then Move me off the island.
  • Confirm three times to send a transfer request.
  • On the target Switch, launch the game and select the user account you want to play with. Note that you can’t choose a user that has already played Animal Crossing on that system, so you may need to add a new user account.
  • Pick I’m moving when asked by Timmy and Tommy.
  • Select Yes, I have when asked if you’ve sent a transfer request, then Start the process.
  • Select Yes, that is correct to confirm island and resident data.
  • Back on the source Switch, choose I want to move to confirm the Switch you’re moving to. The transfer will start.
  • On the target Switch, you’ll get to place your old house on the new island. If you’re the first person to play Animal Crossing on the console, you’ll become the island representative, and have to sleep in a tent the first night while your house is set up.

Read more: Buying a Nintendo Switch? Here’s what else you should buy