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How to transfer your Animal Crossing: New Horizons save file to a new console

Whether you’re moving your entire island or just one character, you’ll need both Nintendo Switches on hand to transfer

An Animal Crossing character stands on the small, secret beach area, facing the ocean Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon
Julia Lee (she/her) is a guides producer, writing guides for games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Genshin Impact. She helped launch the Rift Herald in 2016.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons players can now transfer their islands and residents without using the island backup feature.

You can move an entire island to a different switch, or you can choose to move specific players off your island on to a different console. Depending on which you want to do, there are different steps.

Note that both of these steps require you to have the two consoles on hand. They both use local wireless connections to send data, so you won’t need an internet connection.

How to move your Animal Crossing: New Horizons island to a different Nintendo Switch

Note that this will delete the data off the first Switch and move it on to the second Switch.

  1. Download the Animal Crossing: New Horizons Island Transfer Tool from the eShop on both Nintendo Switches.
  2. Make sure Animal Crossing: New Horizons is updated to the latest version on both consoles.
  3. Launch the Island Transfer Tool on both consoles and follow the on-screen instructions.
  4. Once the transfer finishes, launch the game on the new Switch.
  5. When asked about using existing resident data, select “Existing data.”
  6. Select the villager name that matches the villager you were playing as on the previous Switch. Make sure it matches up with the Switch user account you were using on the previous Switch for that character.
  7. If you brought over more than one character in the save transfer, make sure that people’s characters match the Switch user account when logging in. They’ll only need to do this the first time they sign into the new Switch for the first time.

How to move your Animal Crossing: New Horizons villager to a different Nintendo Switch

You cannot move the Island Representative (the first person to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons on your console) to another island, as the island is tied to that character. If there are other characters you’d like to move — for example, if you got your kid their own Switch and you want to move them over to that while keeping your island — you can do that. If you move a player to a Switch with no Animal Crossing: New Horizons save data, they will become the Island Representative and become the owner of their new island.

To move other players, complete the following steps:

  1. On the source Nintendo Switch, launch Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
  2. Press the - button to access the settings on the title screen.
  3. Select “move to a new island” and “move me off the island.”
  4. Confirm the details by selecting, “yes” multiple times.
  5. On the new Nintendo Switch, launch Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
  6. Open the game as the Nintendo user account you want to be linked with your New Horizons character.
  7. When you see Timmy and Tommy at the airport, say “I’m moving,” “Yes, I have!” and “Start the process.”
  8. Confirm the island and resident name.
  9. On the source Switch, select “I want to move” to pick the Switch you’ll be moving to.
  10. The data will move. Once it says “Everything is ready!” you’ll be able to close the game and start playing.

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