ACNH Island Transfer Tool: Communication Error by@woodrock

ACNH Island Transfer Tool: Communication Error

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Jesse Wood

Leave the world a better place you found it. Software Engineer, PhD student in AI

Image credit: Nintendo

Yesterday my partner and I spent over 5 hours trying to debug a cryptic error message given by the Animal Crossing New Horizons (ACNH) Island Transfer Tool (ITT). Hundreds of people had clearly experienced the same issue, as forums were flooded with questions on this, and there was a bunch of half-pie responses saying how people had fixed it, but they all lacked the sufficient detail to reproduce their fix. So, I decided to resolve the matter. Here is a comprehensive guide to fixing the communication error message for ACNH using the Island Transfer Tool.

The official method

First, before I start, please try all the steps given on the Nintendo forum here:\~/how-to-transfer-an-island-to-a-new-nintendo-switch-system-(animal-crossing%3A-new. Should this work, with no errors, and you have successfully transferred your island, stop reading here. But should you run into a mysterious “communication error” after multiple attempts, do read on.

When the Communication Error isn’t resolved

There are two main problems the forums were able to identify:

  1. The source and/or target console are not recognised by both systems.
  2. The transfer starts, but then you get a “communication error” message.

The best solution for (1) is to try using the Island Transfer Tool with one (or both) devices connected to a mobile hotspot. There are two devices: source - your old console you have the island saved on, and, target - the new console you want to move your island on to. The ITT can struggle to find the target or source device on some WiFi networks due to DNS settings. First, try with one device connected to the hotspot. Should that fail, try both connected to the hotspot.

Now to solve (2). The communication error is likely due to the fact you can’t run the same software on two devices signed in to the same account at once. This is a countermeasure to stop people from buying one copy of a game and giving that to their friends for free. But the developers of the ACNH Island Transfer Tool (ITT) didn’t consider that feature. This means you can’t open ITT on two devices both signed into the same account. There is a (very convoluted) solution to this. I will walk you through how to reproduce the solution I found for this error.

It says on the official Nintendo forum,

  • If the same Nintendo Account was used to download the Island Transfer Tool on both systems, use an alternate user to open the Island Transfer Tool on the primary console of the Nintendo Account.

This would be useful if the ACNH Island Transfer Tool (ITT) was a software that asked you what account you would like to run it on before it launched. However, this is not the case. What is missing from their instructions is how to run the ITT on an alternate user. To do this you must complete the following on the source device (the old switch with your island on it).

  1. Uninstall the ACNH Island Transfer Tool (if it is installed already).
  2. Open the EShop software.
  3. Select your primary account.
  4. Tap your profile icon.
  5. Scroll down to the “deregister” button.
  6. Click “deregister”
  7. Close the EShop software.
  8. Make a new profile for the alternate account.
  9. Connect that profile to Nintendo Switch online (this will require a separate email).
  10. Open the EShop software, but this time choose your alternate account.
  11. Install the ACNH Tool.

Now move to your target device (the new switch you wish to move your island on to), and register your account as the primary user. Following steps 2-5 above, make sure your desired account is registered as the primary account. You will also need the ACNH Island Transfer Tool downloaded on the target device.

Now you should be ready to go. But just be to safe, here is a checklist of things we have done.

  • [ ]Alternate account on the source device.
  • [ ]Primary account on the target device.
  • [ ]ACNH Island Transfer Tool is installed on both devices.
  • [ ]Both devices are well charged or connected to power.

If you can safely tick all those boxes you are ready to go. Follow the instructions given on the official Nintendo forums here -\~/how-to-transfer-an-island-to-a-new-nintendo-switch-system-(animal-crossing%3A-new#DT:t1-q1a2EP:t1-q1a2-c


I do truly hope that did work for you. I was not able to find any good resources that explained the whole process and had to solve this problem by myself, scraping together bits and bobs from YouTube, Nintendo Forums and Reddit. Hence the inspiration for this tutorial, this article is one single place for fixing the ITT communication error.

Jesse Wood HackerNoon profile picture
by Jesse Wood @woodrock.Leave the world a better place you found it. Software Engineer, PhD student in AI
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