Learn everything you need to know about transferring island save data in Animal Crossing: New Horizons between different Nintendo Switch systems.
Can You Transfer Animal Crossing: New Horizons Save Data?
Unfortunately, it’s not currently possible to transfer Animal Crossing: New Horizons save data with your island on Nintendo Switch right now. Unlike most other games, Nintendo has chosen to disable the save data transfer feature for Animal Crossing.
It’s likely this is due to cheating and duplication concerns, but it’s quite disappointing nonetheless. This means it’s currently impossible to move your Animal Crossing: New Horizons island save data to a new Nintendo Switch from an old system if you buy a new console.
The lack of a save data transfer feature also means that you cannot play the same Animal Crossing: New Horizons island on both a regular Nintendo Switch and more portable Nintendo Switch Lite if you own both. You’ll have to maintain two separate islands on each system.
Can You Just Move SD Cards or Cartridges?
While an obvious workaround to the disabled save transfer feature might seem like using an SD Card, it’s unfortunately impossible to put your Animal Crossing: New Horizons save on an SD Card. The Nintendo Switch automatically stores all game save data on the system’s internal storage and it cannot be moved.
This also means that owners of a physical cartridge copy of the game cannot simply swap the game cart between systems to move islands either. Each system will store its own separate save data file, regardless of the physical game cart.
Another side effect of this is that you can only have one Animal Crossing: New Horizons island per Nintendo Switch, even if you own multiple copies of the game. It’s a real pain sometimes!
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Save Data Transfer Coming Soon
There is some good news though — Nintendo has promised that an update to Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be released later this year adding the ability to move users and save data to another system! This will allow you to move your island between Nintendo Switches in the future.
Here’s the full announcement regarding future save data transfers for Animal Crossing: New Horizons from the Nintendo UK website:
This game does not currently support the ability to transfer your save file from one Nintendo Switch console to another. However, a function specific to Animal Crossing: New Horizons to move users and save data to another console is planned for later this year.
Furthermore, the game’s producer Hisashi Nogami elaborated on the upcoming feature in an interview with CNET:
So right now we’re trying to give users two types of function. The first thing is, when the users lose or break their Switch, then we will provide a backup save data that was saved on the server. And then the second one is when the user buys a new Nintendo Switch, then we will transfer that account for them. For the data transfer for new Switch purchases, there are two ways. The first one is to transfer the entire island data onto the new Switch. And then the second method is to extract one of the players that are living on the island, and extract that player’s save data onto the new Switch hardware. In your case, since you have two Switches, it’s basically considered that you have two separate islands and two separate save data on each of the Switch that you own.
Based on this information from the interview, it appears that Nintendo plans to both allow an entire island to be transferred to a new Nintendo Switch, as well as the ability to simply move a single player character off an island and onto a new island on another system. That’s pretty interesting!
And as Nogami outlined in the quote above, the ability to recover your save data from the server when a console is lost, stolen, or broken will be introduced later this year as well in addition to transfers. This will essentially function as a cloud save system, which currently does not exist either for Animal Crossing: New Horizons.