After months of fishing, shaking trees and putting up with Tom Nook’s endless demands for payment, the wait is finally over. Animal Crossing: New Horizons has finally made island transfers a thing – meaning that you can move all your save data over to another Nintendo Switch console.

This is particularly big news if you’re a Switch Lite player who wants to play the game on the main console for some reason – perhaps if you want to stream the game on Twitch. 

This feature is bundled in with another seasonal update for the game – this time for Winter, which also grants players access to two new in-game events (Turkey Day and Toy Day), new hairstyles, reactions, gameplay and storage extension. 

You can see the official trailer below:

If you want to transfer your island – or one of your characters – over to another Nintendo Switch console, then we have everything you need to know. You can also check out why Animal Crossing: New Horizons (and other games) can be beneficial to your mental health.

How to do an entire island transfer on Animal Crossing: New Horizons

If you want to transfer all your save data – including your whole island, villagers, custom designs and house – then this is the option to select. Note that once you transfer your island to your new console, you won't be able to play on your old one. 

Here's how to transfer your entire island:

  • Have access to both Nintendo Switch consoles – the old one your game is currently on and the new one you wish to transfer to
  • Have Animal Crossing: New Horizons installed on both consoles
  • Ensure that your consoles have a working internet connection
  • Transfer your Nintendo profile data to the new console
  • Go to the Nintendo eShop and purchase the free Island Transfer Tool app and open on both consoles
  • Follow the on-screen instructions until you select 'Let's begin'
  • On the current console, select and confirm as 'Source'
  • On the new console, select and confirm as 'Target' and then select 'Proceed'
  • Selected 'Transfer data' and then 'Proceed'
  • Once the transfer is complete, you'll be notified on both consoles and the save data from your previous console will be deleted
  • You'll now be able to play Animal Crossing on your new console

You can read further instructions on Nintendo's website, which is useful if you have multiple Animal Crossing players in your household. 

Island transfer tool

How to do a resident move (single player transfer) on Animal Crossing New Horizons

If you want to just move a single player (an island representative, not a villager) to another island, along with their home and items, then this is the best option. Note that island representatives cannot move, only additional players. 

If they move to a game with no existing save data, the player will move to a brand-new island and their house will take a few days to move over. If, however, the device has existing save data, the island representative will move onto the island as an additional player and their house will transfer over immediately.

Here's how to transfer single players on Animal Crossing:

  • Have access to both Nintendo Switch consoles – the old one your game is currently on and the new one you wish to transfer to
  • Have Animal Crossing: New Horizons installed on both consoles
  • Ensure that your consoles have a working internet connection
  • Transfer your Nintendo profile data to the new console
  • Head into Settings on the Animal Crossing: New Horizons home screen by selecting the minus button on your joy-con/keypad
  • Select ‘Move to a new island' and then either 'Move me off the island' or 'Move another resident' depending on who you're moving
  • Confirm and click through until you select 'Yes, I'm ready!'
  • On the new console, open Animal Crossing: New Horizons with the user profile you have transferred
  • When asked by Timmy and Tommy select the following: 'I'm moving' > 'Yes, I have' > 'Start the process' and confirm the resident and island
  • On the original console, select 'Let's do it!' to confirm the move
  • Once the transfer is complete, you can choose where you want the resident to live on the island

You can find additional details on Nintendo's help pages.

Move resident animal crossing

How to back up your island online and restore your game data

In the event of losing or damaging your Nintendo Switch, you can back-up your island online to move it across to another console. This feature has been available for several months already but isn’t the same as a standard island transfer as its strictly for those who have a faulty or missing console.

To back-up your island, head into Settings on the Animal Crossing New Horizons home screen, and then select ‘Island back-up'. You’ll need access to the internet for the island to be backed up and have the most recent update of the game (1.4.0 or later) installed.

If you do need to restore your island this way, here's the steps you need to take:

  • Have an active Nintendo Online membership
  • Contact Nintendo to manually move your island across