As a family, we are expecting to spend the next few years traveling between the UK and the US, spending extended periods in each country.

My son has a birthday coming up and a Nintendo Switch seems like a great option, on the face of it at least. Being able to play the same games on a TV screen as on an aeroplane is a big attraction.

I'm concerned however, that international compatibility will be an issue. Personal experience has taught me its not always as simple as it appears... When I previously lived in Australia, I bought a PS4, which I later brought back to the UK. All the main features work fine in the UK, but the DVD player is region locked.

I've read that Switch games are not region locked, but I'm apprehensive about less obvious "gotchas".

What problems should I anticipate with a pond-hopping Switch?

2 Answers 2


I brought a Nintendo Switch with me from Europe to Japan and back again, and never noticed any problems.

Electrically speaking, the Nintendo Switch should work all over the world. While it is charged over USB, I've seen reports about incompatibilities with certain USB chargers (I haven't encountered any problems so far), so you should either buy the official charger from Nintendo, or do research beforehand.

The official charger from Nintendo, which is shipped with the Nintendo Switch (all models) supports:

  • Current: Alternating (AC)
  • Voltage: 100 - 240 V
  • Frequency: 50/60 Hz

Which should cover the entire world, unless there are places that use DC power instead of AC (Quora says there aren't). Of course, let's also not forget that different countries have different mains plugs, so you'll either need an adapter or buy a charger in said countries.

As far as software is concerned, the Nintendo Switch is not region locked (with one exception). According to Nintendo Support (America):

Are Nintendo Switch game cards region-locked?

With the exception of systems and game cards distributed in the Chinese region, Nintendo Switch game cards are not region locked.

Also relevant:

Can Nintendo Switch play games from a different region?

Although Nintendo Switch software sold in regions outside of the Americas may work with Nintendo Switch systems sold in the Americas, we have not tested all overseas software with systems from all regions and cannot guarantee full service and support. Therefore, we recommend that players purchase software that is specifically made for their Nintendo Switch system's region.

Can I use Nintendo Switch in another country/region?

Although it may be possible, there are different factors to consider such as voltage requirements, wireless communication requirements, warranty coverage, etc. To ensure proper performance, service and support, Nintendo recommends using the Nintendo Switch console in the country where it was purchased.

Can I use accessories purchased overseas?

Although some accessories may work, we cannot ensure compatibility between systems and accessories for all regions.

To ensure proper service and support, Nintendo recommends using Nintendo Switch licensed accessories in the same country where they were purchased.

Use of unlicensed accessories may void the system's limited warranty.

In other words: There is no reason why you can't use your Nintendo Switch worldwide, but Nintendo can't guarantee it will always work since they didn't test it.

I myself have bought a Japanese Switch game (with accessory) and have had no problems playing it (including using the USB accessory). Additionally, in order to redeem DLCs for the game, I had to create a Japanese Nintendo account, which also worked. The only downside being that I now receive news from multiple regions, with no way to disable news from one region or another.

This brings us to the Nintendo eShop. While you can visit the eShop from almost any region:

Also note that the Nintendo eShop for the Chinese region is not compatible with systems distributed in the Americas.

... the region is determined by the one you set when you created your account. You can create multiple accounts from multiple regions, but the Nintendo Switch supports up to 8 accounts per console.

Keep in mind that anything related to the eShop itself is (in a sense) region locked. While there is nothing stopping you from using a Japanese eShop account outside of Japan (though the same does not appear to be true for Chinese eShop accounts), any DLC you can download from it is only compatible with games bought in Japan or bought through the Japanese eShop. Also, prepaid cards for games, DLCs, or eShop funds can only be redeemed in an eShop of the same region.

Can I use a Nintendo eShop prepaid card from another country or region on my system?

Nintendo eShop cards are compatible only for the Nintendo eShop country or region where they were intended to be sold. If you purchased a Nintendo eShop prepaid card for a different country or region, we cannot replace it, exchange it, or offer a refund.

Can DLC for one region be used with the same software title from another region?

DLC will work with games that are released for the same region as the DLC.

Thus I recommend creating an account for the region of your permanent residence and buying your games digitally on the eShop, unless there is a game you absolutely want that can't be bought in your region of residence, or you find a really good deal. Keep in mind that you can change your region of residence, if needed:

Users who relocate to a new country can change their country of residence in their Nintendo Account settings after agreeing to the Nintendo Account User Agreement and acknowledging the Privacy Policy for their new country. This will change the country for the Nintendo eShop upon the next connection.

Please note that your Nintendo eShop account balance does not carry over if you change your Nintendo Account country.

Also note that the warranty is only valid in the region the console was bought in:

Can I get my system serviced under warranty in another country/region?

No, the limited warranty is applicable only within the country/region where the system was intended to be sold.

  • Thank you for an incredible answer! I wonder, do you have any experience with the Switch Docks? (My expectation is that I'd need different docks for each country due to PAL/NTSC and power differences.)
    – Tom Wright
    Jun 2, 2022 at 13:19
  • @TomWright, unfortunately I don't have experience with the dock, as I didn't take it with me. Power shouldn't be a problem, since the dock receives power from the same charger the Switch does. I'm not sure about PAL and NTSC, however.
    – Nolonar
    Jun 2, 2022 at 14:19
  • 3
    PAL/NTSC should not be relevant for the Switch, as I don't believe you can hook it up with analog connectors (PAL/NTSC only matter for RCA cables or other analog connection mechanisms). As long as you're using HDMI or similar, you're fine.
    – Joe
    Jun 2, 2022 at 17:04
  • 7
    @TomWright The Switch uses HDMI for video output, which is completely region agnostic and therefore should not care. The only case where you might have issues is if the display you’re connected to has a strange EDID or DisplayID that the Switch can’t parse properly (and therefore can’t figure out what resolution to use), but that’s an extreme edge case that has nothing to do with region, and it’s astronomically unlikely you’ll encounter an issue. Jun 2, 2022 at 17:13
  • 1
    @AustinHemmelgarn, the Switch being stupid about displays is not just a theoretical issue, but I wouldn’t expect it to affect TVs. gaming.stackexchange.com/q/313275/105204
    – Carsten S
    Jun 3, 2022 at 14:06

I would like to expand a little on Nolonar's answer. I too bought a Nintendo Switch while living in Japan and frequently took it to Europe. Last year, I moved back to Europe taking my Switch with me.

I prefer buying games physically rather than digitally (i.e. the cartridges in shops, not from the eShop). I have bought games in Europe and in Japan although off the top of my head I can't positively confirm that both work (although they should).

This won't directly affect your use case as both the US and UK are English-speaking, but the games auto-detect the console language and try to play in that language. Meaning that although I bought Pokémon Shield in Japan, it detected my Switch being set to German and I play the game in German. For games purchased in Japan where German is not available, it falls back to English (e.g. Tales of Vesperia, iirc) and finally there are some which only play in Japanese (Atelier Rorona, iirc).

I rarely use the official Nintendo-supplied charger on the go. I find that a simple USB-C cable plugged into any USB charger will do the trick just fine. Instead, the original charger is connected to the dock under my TV. As it takes 100–240 V and 50/60 Hz, I only bought a cheap passthrough adapter to be able to plug the Japanese plug into an EU socket.

The dock connects to the TV via HDMI. As far as I am aware, that is a worldwide standard. I have used the dock in Japan, Sweden and Germany on different TVs with zero issues.

You mentioned the PAL/NTSC difference in the comments under Nolonar's answer. This was important on older TV systems, especially CRT's which may have been only able to understand one set of colour instructions. Also, in the olden days the TV screen size was different on both sides of the pond. However, nowadays TV's have become much more like computer monitors, able to accept a wide range of input resolutions and framerates; furthermore, all modern standards are digital in nature rather than analog. Essentially, since HDMI you don't need to worry about those two.

  • Thank you for an additional perspective!
    – Tom Wright
    Jun 4, 2022 at 12:54

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