The "Pokémon Sword and Shield" logo and characters.
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If you’re looking to complete your Pokédex in Pokémon Sword and Shield, your friends can help you out. Once you’ve reached Route 2, you can begin trading with your friends (or random players) via Y-Comm.

How to Trade Pokémon with Friends

There are over 400 Pokémon in the Galar Pokédex. If you want to catch them all, though, you might need a little help. That’s where Pokémon trading comes in. Some Pokémon will only change their forms once you’ve traded them to someone else.

Obviously, you’ll then have to get them to trade it back if you want that creature in your Pokédex. For example, the Pokémon “Pumpkaboo” will evolve into Gourgeist, a trade-based evolution.

Traded Pokémon also gain experience points in battle faster, but you can’t change a traded Pokémon’s nickname if you received it via trade.

You have two options when trading with your friends in Pokémon Sword and Shield:

  • You can trade locally with those who are physically nearby
  • You can trade Pokémon online with those who are farther away. This option requires a Nintendo Online subscription, though.

The Y-Comm menu.

RELATED: What's Included with a Nintendo Switch Online Subscription?

To trade locally, you don’t need an internet connection or a Nintendo Online subscription. To do so, open Pokémon Sword and Shield, and then press the Y button on your right Joy-Con controller to open Y-Comm. Select “Link Trade” at the top, and then choose “Set Link Code.”

Select "Link Trade," and then choose "Set Link Code."

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You and your friend will have to type the same eight-digit code to connect and trade with one another. After you’ve set an eight-digit code, close the menu and wait to be connected. Setting a code will often connect partners faster, but this is unnecessary if only you and your trade partner are trading nearby.

The eight-digit code you choose doesn’t matter—it can be entirely random. Once you’ve decided on a code, confirm it by pressing the A button on your Joy-Con controller.

Press the A button to select "OK" and confirm your eight-digit code.

You’ll be redirected to the Y-Comm menu. Be sure to share the code with your friend to start the trading process! If you want to cancel the trade, you can do so at any time by selecting another option from the Y-Comm menu.

Once the game matches you, the trade will commence. A window will appear for you to choose which Pokémon to send, and you’ll also see the Pokémon your friend is sending you. You can view its stats, as well as those of your traded Pokémon before confirming the selection.

When you’re ready, select “Trade it” from the menu to begin the trading process. Once it’s complete, you can choose more Pokémon to trade or finalize it and the eight-digit link code will expire.

Select "Trade It" to confirm.

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Again, if you want to trade online with friends who aren’t nearby, you’ll need a Nintendo Online subscription and an internet connection. To get started, press Y to open the Y-Comm menu. Next, press the plus sign (+) button on your right Joy-Con controller while you’re in the Y-Comm menu to connect to the internet.

Follow the same steps we outlined above to set up a trade. Again, you can cancel a trade at any time by selecting another option from the Y-Comm menu.

Surprise Trades in Pokémon Sword and Shield

You can trade with your friends to expand your Pokédex, but there’s another trade option in the game called “Surprise Trades.” These unique trades are a feature of Y-Comm.

You can choose any Pokémon from any box and put it up for trade. A random partner will be chosen, the trade will occur, and you’ll end up with a random Pokémon. Surprise trades also work locally.

To start a Surprise Trade in Pokémon Sword and Shield, you’ll need a subscription to Nintendo Online and an internet connection. Press Y in-game to open the Y-Comm menu. Next, press the plus sign (+) button on your right Joy-Con controller to connect to the internet.

The "Connecting" message in Y-Comm.

Wait for the connection notification to appear, and then select “Surprise Trade” from the Y-Comm menu. A display of your Pokémon party and boxes will appear on-screen, and you must choose one to trade.

Select "Surprise Trade."

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You can choose a Pokémon in your party (on the left) or any of those stored in your boxes. Press A on your right Joy-Con controller to select the Pokémon you want to trade, and then choose “Select” from the menu to confirm.

Your game will save and start searching for an eligible trading partner while you play.

A Surprise Trade in-game.

If you want to cancel the trade, you can do so at any time by selecting another option from the Y-Comm menu.

surprise trade searching

Eventually, you’ll be paired with a random player, and you can choose to accept or decline the trade. If you accept, your Pokémon will be traded to the other player, and you’ll receive one from them.

The "Trade Completed" message in-game.

When the process is complete, the “Searching ” message will change to “Trade Completed!” If your party is full, the Pokémon you received will be transported to the box. If you don’t already own that Pokémon, its information will be filled in on your Pokédex.

Additional Trade Options in Pokémon Home

If you’re on the go and don’t have your Nintendo Switch, you can trade in the Pokémon Home mobile app as long as your accounts are connected and you have an internet connection. Pokémon Home is available for download on Apple’s App Store or Google Play.

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Let’s look at the four types of trading you can do in Pokémon Home.

Wonder Box Trades

This method is similar to the Surprise Box option in the Pokémon Sword and Shield Y-Comm menu. You choose a Pokémon you want to trade and place it in your Wonder Box. Soon after, your Pokémon will be traded for one from another player’s Wonder Box.

You can place up to three Pokémon in the Wonder Box on a basic plan, or up to 10 if you have a Premium plan.

A character named Yamper in a Pokémon Home Wonder Box.

If you want to use the Wonder Box, tap “Trade” in the main menu of Pokémon Home. You’ll see a list of the different trade features. Select “Wonder Box,” and then tap the plus sign (+) to go to your Pokémon Home Wonder Box.

There, tap the Pokémon you want to place in the Wonder Box, and then tap the green back button at the bottom. You’ll be notified when these Pokémon are traded.

Global Trading System

The Global Trading System (GTS) should be your choice if you want to trade with others worldwide to get a specific Pokémon. Choose the Pokémon you want to trade and the one you want to receive, and then wait.

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Another player will eventually come along and trade you the Pokémon you want. You can also view the Pokémon other Trainers want, and trade those for the Pokémon they’re offering.

Room Trade

The Room Trade options in Pokémon Home.

You can create a Room Trade when you want to trade Pokémon with a group of people you know. A Room ID is a 12-digit code you can share with others.

To start trading, just share the 12-digit code of your Room Trade or join a room for which another player sends you a Room ID. You can also create or join a Room Trade with random players.

Friend Trade

Friend Trades are handy when you want to trade with Trainers you know on your Pokémon Home Friends List.

To get started, tap “Friends” in the Pokémon Home main menu.

Tap "Friends."

On the next screen, you can type a Friend Code to add someone or scan the code pattern of the person you want to add.

The "Add a Friend" menu in Pokémon Home.

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After you add the friend you want to trade with, return to the Pokémon Home main menu. Tap “Trade” at the top left.

Tap "Trade."

Next, tap “Friend Trade,” and then choose the person you want to trade with.

Tap "Friend Trade."

Trading Pokémon is the best way to complete your Pokédex in Pokémon Sword and Shield. You can also trade to help a friend who’s just starting his or her Pokémon journey.

Pokémon Home makes it easier than ever to trade Pokémon no matter where you are.

Joshalynne Finch Joshalynne Finch
Joshalynne is a freelance writer and lifelong learner who always loves studying new things. She enjoys checking out the latest grammar books and writing about video games more than anything else.
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