Is the Nintendo Switch Region-Free?

Nintendo has a long history of region-locking its consoles and handhelds

Man plays the Nintendo Switch in handheld mode.

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Despite its long history of region-locking, Nintendo has changed their approach to consoles with the best-selling console of 2018. The Nintendo Switch is region-free, which is great news for both developers and importers, but most of all, gamers. On the other hand, a region-free console raises a lot of questions. Here's what you need to know about the Nintendo Switch, how it operates, and what you can and can't do.

You Can Play Games Purchased Overseas

Physical Nintendo Switch game cartridges are also region-free. You can purchase a game in Germany, a Nintendo Switch in Japan, and bring both home to America to kick back and play. Of course, this doesn't mean the game will automatically translate to English, as it will still use the language it was developed for, unless specifically designed with multiple language options.

You Can Purchase Games From Other Region's eShops

Many gamers have switched their Switch's eShop to another region in search of the best deals, taking advantage of global arbitrage in the process. There's controversy surrounding this, with some consumers arguing it hurts the developer. However, at the time of writing, there are no terms and conditions preventing users from taking advantage of lower priced digital goods in other parts of the world.

Downloadable Content is Mostly Region-Free

Hardcore gamers know content isn't always released around the world at the same time. If you want to get that brand-new DLC a few hours ahead of time, you can purchase it in a different region and play it. However, this isn't always true. If content is only supported in the USA, New Zealand, and Australia, it will not work for a game in Canada.

eShop Cards Are Only Compatible in the Region They're Purchased

The Nintendo Switch may be region-free, but eShop currency cards are not. For example, a currency card purchased in Canada will only work on the Canadian eShop.

Accessories From Other Countries May Not Work

Accessories designed for the Nintendo Switch may or may not work with Nintendo Switch consoles produced for other countries. Variations in global voltage requirements can cause problems, and Nintendo recommends only using accessories designed in the same country where you bought your Switch. 

A screenshot of the Software Information screen on Nintendo Switch.
 Nintendo

You can check support regions by going into a game's software menu under Software Information > Support Information.

Nintendo Switch Warranties Are Region-Specific

If something happens to your Nintendo Switch, you'll need to have the repairs done in the area it was originally purchased. According to Nintendo's Regional Compatibility FAQ, "the limited warranty is applicable only within the country/region where the system was intended to be sold."

The Nintendo Switch's portability makes it a great companion for gaming on the go. Nothing makes a long flight pass as quickly as "Zelda: Breath of the Wild," and if you find yourself craving a new game while you're abroad, just log onto the eShop and purchase as normal. For the first time in many years, a Nintendo console is not region locked.