Pokémon Scarlet & Violet: How To Trade Pokémon 1
Image: Nintendo Life

Trading Pokémon has been an integral part of the Pokémon series ever since it started. With new multiplayer options in Pokémon Scarlet & Violet, there are new ways to play — and trade — your 'mons. And you'll need to, too, to get all of the version exclusive Pokémon!

PSA: You'll need a Nintendo Switch Online subscription to trade and play Pokémon online.

Here's how to trade Pokémon — with friends or with random players online — in Scarlet & Violet.

Pokémon Scarlet & Violet: How To Trade Pokémon

When do you unlock trading?

Trading Pokémon is unlocked at the same time as you unlock other multiplayer functions — when you reach the first Pokémon Center at Los Platos (East) Pokémon Center.

As soon as you've approached the Center and used it, you'll be able to use all online features — including trading.

How to trade Pokémon

Pokémon Scarlet & Violet: How To Trade Pokémon 5
Image: Nintendo Life

In the Poké Portal menu, there are two options you can select to start trading Pokémon online.

'Link Trade' allows you to pair up with another player and trade Pokémon directly with them. This is used to trade Pokémon with friends, usually.

'Surprise Trade' is where you select a Pokémon to trade online randomly with another trainer. You won't know what you're getting until you get it, and it's a good way of getting rid of duplicate Pokémon, or simply just being generous and sharing version exclusives with people you don't know!

How to trade Pokémon with Surprise Trade

Surprise Trade returns from Sword & Shield is a really fun mechanic that's similar to Wonder Trade from previous generations. It's really easy to do, too.

Make sure you're connected to the internet by pressing 'L' (or the game will do it automatically for you when you select the Trade option). Select Surprise Trade in order to access your boxes. Then, search for the Pokémon you want to trade online. Once you have, the game will save and you'll be able to carry on playing the game while you wait for your trade to be completed.

You'll know the trade is complete when you get a little notification at the top of your screen. Press 'Y' when you see it, and select Surprise Trade again to get the trading animation — and your surprise Pokémon!

There are multiple ways you can trade Pokémon online and locally, but if you want to trade with friends, then Link Codes are your best option.

In the Pokémon Portal, select 'Link Trade' and you'll get a brand new menu screen. Select Set Link Code and insert an eight-digit number that you and your friend will be using to trade with — you'll both need to enter the same number in order to trade with one another.

Then, make sure you confirm the code, press +, and then go up to 'Begin Searching' and select it. You and your friend should pair up, and then you can each select the Pokémon you want to trade with each other.

How to trade Pokémon in Union Circle

You can also trade Pokémon while you're visiting friends, or while friends are visiting you. However, it's done in exactly the same way as you would trade with friends online when you're not visiting each other's games. Approaching your friend in the overworld doesn't activate a trade.

Simply go into the Poké Portal, go into Link Trade, and then set up your Link Code again. Then, once you've both entered the code, go to Begin Searching. You and your friend should pair up, and the rest is the same as trading online (or locally) as normal.

Get ready to start swapping online, then! Let us know if this guide was helpful below, and be sure to check out our Pokémon Scarlet & Violet walkthrough guides for more hints, tips, and tricks!