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A trade (Japanese: 交換 exchange), also known as a Link Trade (Japanese: 通信交換 Link Exchange), is a process in which a Pokémon Trainer sends one of their Pokémon to another Trainer in exchange for one of the other Trainer's Pokémon. In every Pokémon game, trading is necessary to collect all Pokémon.
Starting from Generation II, items can be held by Pokémon, allowing indirect trading of holdable items. However, in Generation IV, the Griseous Orb cannot be traded, as it will automatically be put back in the Bag when a player with Origin Forme Giratina in their party enters the Union Room or Wi-Fi Room. Certain items, when held by the correct Pokémon, will cause that Pokémon to evolve when traded to another player. Mail may also be held to send a message.
Until Black 2 and White 2, all trading animations in the core series games used the standard Poké Ball, regardless of the types of Balls the traded Pokémon were actually caught in. This is corrected in Black 2 and White 2, in which trade animations show the correct Poké Ball the Pokémon was caught in.
Benefits of trading
Trading is necessary in order to collect every Pokémon in the Pokédex, as some Pokémon can only be found in certain versions. For example, because Meowth cannot be found in Red, the player must trade with someone who has obtained one from Blue, in which Meowth is readily found in the wild. Some Pokémon only evolve after being traded.
Drawbacks of trading
A Pokémon with an original Trainer different from its current Trainer is referred to as an outsider Pokémon, and will only obey a Trainer with the sufficient number of Gym Badges or Stamps. The friendship of a Pokémon is set to its base friendship when it is traded from one game to another, unless returned to its original Trainer. In addition, a traded Pokémon's nickname cannot be changed by anyone but the original Trainer, even if it hasn't been given a nickname (however, in Gen VIII, outsider Pokémon without nicknames can be nicknamed).
Traded Pokémon are identified by the Pokémon's Original Trainer name and a five- or six-digit ID Number. Starting in Generation III, even if two games have the same name and ID number, each Trainer also has a secret ID number. The odds of two Trainers having the same secret ID numbers is 1/65536 or approximately 0.002%, making it extremely unlikely that an outsider Pokémon will be treated as a regular Pokémon on a different cartridge.
While beneficial in their own right, trade-induced evolutions cannot be cancelled manually, requiring Pokémon that evolve when traded without a specific held item to hold an Everstone in order to stay in their current form. In Generation IV and onwards, however, the Everstone fails to prevent a traded Kadabra from evolving into Alakazam.
Limitations on trading
Trading between game generations
Pokémon can be traded between Generation I and Generation II games using the Time Capsule feature. For compatibility purposes, the Pokémon to be traded from the Generation II game must be a species that existed in Generation I and cannot have any moves introduced in Generation II. The Time Capsule exploit can be used to trick the game into trading Generation II Pokémon back to Generation I as well, but they will become glitch Pokémon like MissingNo.. Additionally, the trade evolution learnset oversight can also be used to trade a Pokémon with a Generation II move back to a Generation I game, though it will become a glitch move. This is the only instance in the series in which Pokémon can be sent back to games from a previous generation.
It is not officially possible to trade between Generation II and Generation III games.
Generation I and II
In the Generation I and II core series games, Western language games (English, French, German, Italian, Spanish) can all trade with each other without issue. Attempting to trade between Japanese and non-Japanese Generation I and II core series games causes corruption of both save files.
The Korean versions of Pokémon Gold and Silver can successfully trade with Western language Generation I and II games (but not Japanese games). However, due the character encoding differences, Hangul characters (i.e. in the names of traded Pokémon and their Original Trainers) will become garbled on Western language games, possibly including control characters which may have unexpected effects. However, unlike attempting to trade between Western and Japanese games, save data is not corrupted. Conversely, attempting to trade between Japanese and Korean games will corrupt both games' save files.
In the Virtual Console releases of the Generation I and II games, Japanese, Korean, and Western games cannot connect to each other at all. Different language Western Virtual Console games can still communicate, however.
In these games, a Pokémon is determined to be nicknamed if its name matches its species name. As a result, if an unnicknamed Pokémon is traded to a game in a different language where the Pokémon's species has a different name, its name will be treated as nickname. For example, in an English Generation I or II game, a foreign Pichu named "PICHU" will evolve into a Pikachu nicknamed "PIKACHU", but a foreign Charmander named "SALAMECHE" will retain the name "SALAMECHE" after evolving into a Charmeleon as if it were a nickname. Because these games do not track language of origin, if a traded Pokémon from Generation I or II is sent to the Pokémon Bank via the Poké Transporter, its language of origin is determined based on the game from which the Pokémon is transferred, not the game from which it originally came.
In the Generation III core series games, trading became possible between all versions of the games.
In Japanese, Pokémon and Trainer names have a 5 character limit, in contrast to the 10 character limit in Western language games. If a Pokémon whose name or Original Trainer is longer than 5 characters is traded to a Japanese game, in the Japanese game it will only display the first 5 characters.
In Generation III (except in v1.0 of English Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire), if a Pokémon originates from a different language to the current game, when it evolves its name will not be changed, with the old name treated as a nickname; thus, if a Pichu named "PICHU" from an Italian game is evolved in an English game, when it evolves it will be a Pikachu nicknamed "PICHU". In v1.0 of English Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, like in the Generation I and II games, if a Pokémon's current name is the same as its species name in the language of the game in which it was evolved, it will be treated as unnicknamed, so its species name will change upon evolution.
In the Generation IV core series games, with the advent of worldwide online trading via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, trading between different languages is better supported. All languages except Korean can freely trade with each other without issue.
Korean language games cannot trade with Generation IV games in other languages presumably due to non-Korean games not supporting Hangul. However, Korean language games can migrate Pokémon from Generation III games of any language.
If an unnicknamed Pokémon evolves, its name is changed to the name of its species after evolution in its current game's language (regardless of its language of origin). In these games, there is a separate flag to indicate whether a Pokémon is nicknamed.
Pokémon from foreign-language games unlock foreign Pokédex entries if traded to a game of a different language. In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, foreign Pokédex entries can only be obtained for 14 specific Pokémon; in Pokémon HeartGold, SoulSilver, and Platinum, foreign Pokédex entries can be unlocked for all Pokémon.
Generation V onward
Starting in Generation V, Pokémon can be traded between all games, regardless of language.
From Generation IV to VII, if an unnicknamed Pokémon evolves or a Pokémon hatches without being given a nickname, its name becomes the name of its species in its current game's language (regardless of its language of origin). For example, a French Bulbasaur without a nickname that evolves in an English-language game will evolve into an Ivysaur named "Ivysaur", but will still be flagged as a French-language Pokémon and will unlock the corresponding foreign Pokédex entries for Ivysaur and Venusaur as it evolves.
In Generation VIII, if an unnicknamed Pokémon evolves, its name will change to that of the evolved form in its language of origin. For example, a French Bulbasaur without a nickname that evolves in an English-language game will evolve into an Ivysaur named "Herbizarre".
Trading requires two game consoles and two Pokémon games of compatible generations. Nintendo's intention is that players trade with friends, although some serious players purchase multiple consoles.
Prior to FireRed and LeafGreen, trading required a Game Link Cable. FireRed, LeafGreen, and Emerald can trade using a GBA Wireless Adapter or a Game Link Cable. From Generation IV onwards, trading uses wireless communication and does not require additional hardware. Although the Nintendo DS supports Generation III games, it cannot be used to trade between those games as the DS lacks hardware support for the Game Link Cable. Also, Transfer Paks can be used to trade in Generation I and in Generation II, via Pokémon Stadium and Pokémon Stadium 2.
The Pal Park feature of Generation IV games uses the GBA slot of the Nintendo DS, so unlike other trading requires only one game console. However, it is not compatible with the Nintendo DSi, DSi XL, or 3DS, which do not have a GBA slot.
Pokémon HOME allows users to trade Pokémon directly between different save files, even on different accounts. This is because it is possible to take Pokémon from any save file on the console into any HOME box, and then into another save file, this makes it another way to trade that requires only one system.
Pokémon that cannot be traded
Starting with Generation IV, mid-generation releases started including new moves, items, forms, or even species of Pokémon. Since, prior to Generation VIII, they were impossible to trade to games that predate them, additional limitations have been put in place for them specifically. Most can be circumvented by altering the Pokémon's moveset, held item and/or form, and with the exception of the Spiky-eared Pichu-related limitation, all of them have been lifted in their respective following Generations:
- In Generation IV or V, new forms or items cannot be traded at all, even between games that support them. They include:
- Introduced in Pokémon Platinum:
- Introduced in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver:
- The Spiky-eared Pichu. Since it cannot change forms, it cannot be traded at all.
- Introduced in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2:
- In Generation VI and VII (3DS games only), Pokémon with new moves, as well as new forms, items, and species can be freely traded between games that support them, but cannot be sent back to those that predate them:
- Introduced in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, cannot be traded to Pokémon X and Y:
- Pokémon holding new Mega Stones or Colored orbs.
- The Cosplay Pikachu.
- While it can be traded to Pokémon X and Y, Unbound Hoopa will automatically revert to its Confined form.
- Groudon with Precipice Blades, Kyogre with Origin Pulse, Rayquaza with Dragon Ascent and Hoopa with Hyperspace Fury can only be traded to Pokémon X and Y if their respective moves are forgotten.
- Introduced in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, cannot be traded to Pokémon Sun and Moon:
- Introduced in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, cannot be traded to Pokémon X and Y:
Starting with Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!, the games stopped supporting direct trades between games that aren't paired releases entirely, rendering this matter moot. Also, starting with Pokémon Sword and Shield, they can receive support for new moves, items, forms, and species via updates, removing the need for such limitations as long as they are kept up-to-date.
Due to being tied to a significant number of game mechanics in their respective games, Partner Pokémon from Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! cannot be traded. Also, in these games, the currently selected walking Pokémon cannot be traded until it is deselected.
Requirements for trading
The player cannot trade Pokémon before transporting the Mystery Egg to Professor Elm. The Time Capsule cannot be used until the player has met Bill at Ecruteak City's Pokémon Center, and waiting until the next day when setup is completed.
In order for the player to be able to trade from Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald to Pokémon Colosseum or Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness; they need at least two Pokémon in their party. To be able to trade from Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen to Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, the player needs to help Celio upgrade the Pokémon Network Center to Link Level 2.
The player cannot trade Pokémon before getting a Pokédex from Professor Birch at Littleroot Town. To trade, the player must have at least two Pokémon in the party. Trading with FireRed, LeafGreen, or Emerald will automatically activate the National Pokédex.
The player cannot trade Pokémon before getting a Pokédex from Professor Oak at Pallet Town. The player must have at least two Pokémon in the party in order to trade.
In a departure from the main series' tradition, additional limitations on trades were put in place, which cannot be lifted before completing the game at least once:
- At the beginning of the game, trades are only possible with other copies of FireRed and LeafGreen. In addition, trades involving Eggs or Pokémon not in the Kanto Pokédex are blocked. Pokémon that evolve into a Generation II Pokémon by trading will stop evolving.
- Obtaining the National Pokédex unblocks trades for Pokémon and Eggs outside of the Regional Pokédex.
- Bringing the Ruby and Sapphire Key Items to complete Celio's Network Machine allows trades with Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald versions.
Restrictions similar to those in FireRed and LeafGreen also apply to this version:
- At the beginning of the game, trades are only possible with other copies of Emerald, as well as Ruby and Sapphire. In addition to that, trades that involve Eggs or Pokémon that aren't in the Hoenn Pokédex are blocked.
- Obtaining the National Pokédex unblocks trades for Pokémon outside of the Regional Pokédex, as well as Eggs, and allows trading with FireRed and LeafGreen.
The player cannot trade Pokémon with the GBA games in Colosseum until Evice has been defeated, while the player must have defeated Greevil in Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness to trade. Trading any unpurified Shadow Pokémon is completely prohibited, as data for Shadow moves doesn't exist in the GBA games, nor the ability to purify them.
It is not possible to directly trade between Colosseum and XD.
Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum
The player cannot trade Pokémon before getting a Pokédex from Professor Rowan at Sandgem Town. Also, the player has to have at least two Pokémon in the party. It is possible to obtain a non-regional Pokémon when trading Pokémon from another Generation IV game without having acquired the National Pokédex. In Platinum, the player is now able to press B to select the "CANCEL" button.
Hayley will only offer to trade with the player after they have completed a wanted request, and will only trade specific Pokémon and only if she has already brought one of them to the Ranch.
Similar to Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, trading cannot occur until the player has obtained their Pokédex from Professor Oak at Mr. Pokémon's house. The player must have at least two Pokémon in the party; but no additional prerequisite is needed to trade with the Sinnoh games: this can be done at the very beginning of the game.
The player cannot trade Pokémon until they have obtained the Trio Badge from the Striaton Gym and completed the C-Gear sub-quest for Fennel. This prevents the player from trading for a Pokémon that knows Cut in order to access the blocked-off section of Dreamyard early, as HM usage is not restricted by Badge ownership in Unova.
The player is also prevented from trading party Pokémon that know any HM move via Infrared Connection, most likely to prevent trading away a Pokémon whose HM move is needed in a certain area. An example of this would be trading away any Pokémon in the party who know Fly or Surf while on a patch of land surrounded by water.
Similar to Black and White, the player cannot trade Pokémon until they have received the Basic Badge from the Aspertia Gym and have received the C-Gear from Bianca. There is no prerequisite to trade with Black and White.
The player may trade Pokémon as soon as they have at least two Pokémon in their party, which is the minimum requirement for conducting a trade.
The player must wait to trade Pokémon until they gain the Quick Link option in their menu upon their first visit to a Pokémon Center, which will allow them to trade with someone nearby. In order to trade over the Internet (GTS, Wonder Trade, or Link Trade), the player must use Festival Plaza, which is unlocked at the same time. The player may require at least two Pokémon in their party.
The game's multiplayer features, including trades, are unlocked by delivering Professor Oak his Parcel and receiving Razz Berries from him. Trading requires having at least two Pokémon in the party and/or the Pokémon Box, Partner Pokémon and walking Pokémon do not count and cannot be traded.
The game's online features, including trades, are unlocked after completing Mission 5: "A Request from Mai".
The actual trading interface remained largely the same throughout the series's first four generations: Each player selects one Pokémon from their party to offer for trade; once decided, they can review the stats (and, when applicable, Ability or item) of the other Pokémon before confirming or cancelling the trade. The player may perform multiple trades in a row.
It is not possible to trade Pokémon stored in the PC in these generations, so they must be placed in the party prior to speaking with the receptionist at a Pokémon Center.
Generation IV's Global Trade System utilized a separate trading process, in which players deposited one Pokémon at a time (requesting another Pokémon in exchange) and other players searched and traded for them at their leisure. Once traded, the original player received the Pokémon upon logging in to the GTS. If the Pokémon was not traded, the original player was able to cancel the offer by withdrawing their Pokémon from the GTS. Due to the Wi-Fi shutdown, this feature is no longer officially supported as of May 20, 2014.
The trading process received an overhaul in Generation V: now called a Negotiation Trade (Japanese: ネゴシエーション交換 Negotiation Exchange), it allows players to offer and trade Pokémon from either their current party or directly from their PC's storage system.
During the trade, each player may select up to three Pokémon to offer the other player. Once decided, they may review the offered Pokémon (checking stats, Ability, etc.) and confirm one to be traded. Players may trade several Pokémon in a row if desired.
Players registered on each other's Pal Pad can communicate with live voice chat during the trade. A set of four emoticons (Smile Mark, Saddened Mark, Heart Mark, Surprise Mark) also allows for limited communication between players. In addition to showing the Pokémon on offer, the top screen also includes an abstract glimpse of the other player's Pokémon collection in the form of PC boxes with individual Pokémon represented by their Pokédex color.
The GTS, in addition to the deposit/search-based system introduced in Generation IV, receives a second trading mode ("GTS Negotiations") allowing two players to connect and trade Pokémon using this system. Like Generation IV, Generation V's GTS was shut down in 2014.
The trading process has been streamlined since Generation V, with each player showing only one Pokémon at a time (instead of three) before being prompted to make an offer. Chat emoticons have been removed, but voice chat is still available when the player trades with someone on their 3DS's Friends List.
The GTS has also been updated, now allowing the player to enter the species name of any Pokémon using a "What Pokémon?" option in the Pokémon selection list. This allows players to trade for Pokémon that they have not seen in the game.
A third trading method, called Wonder Trade, is introduced this generation: when performing a Wonder Trade, the player selects one of their Pokémon and it is immediately traded with another player using Wonder Trade, with no further confirmation or any communication between players, meaning that the Pokémon the player receives in exchange for theirs is a complete surprise.
The PSS has been replaced and split between the Quick Link and Festival Plaza options in the menu. Quick Link allows for players to locally trade Pokémon, while the Festival Plaza allows for trading through the Internet. The GTS and Wonder Trade are usable while in the Festival Plaza.
The GTS is similar to its Generation VI counterpart, though filtering has been adjusted and searching for a Pokémon by letter will now show that Pokémon's icon next to its name.
Pokémon that evolve when traded
Most of the Pokémon that evolve when traded can only do so while holding a specific Evolution item.
In other games
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series
- Main article: Trade (GO)
In the anime
Despite it being one of the key aspects of the games, trading is exceptionally rare in the anime. Only a few trades have been shown taking place, and only seven of them thus far have been significant. Many of them take place in episodes featuring the Magikarp salesman. Rather than simply exchanging Pokémon, most trades are carried out by placing Poké Balls into a specialized trading machine, with a monitor that displays silhouettes of the two Pokémon as they pass each other.
The trade machine used in the anime has seemingly been adapted into the game canon, with Professor Oak's Laboratory in both Pokémon Stadium and Pokémon Stadium 2 having this type of machine for trades. In the same way, when Game Link Cables were finally able to accept the data of two Pokémon being sent at once (rather than one at a time as in Generations I and II), the Pokémon are shown passing each other in the link space.
List of trades in the anime
|First Trainer's Pokémon||Second Trainer's Pokémon||Episode traded||Notes|
|Ash's Butterfree||A Gentleman's Raticate||Battle Aboard the St. Anne||Traded back the same episode.|
|Jessie's Lickitung||Benny's Wobbuffet||Tricks of the Trade|
|James's Victreebel||The Magikarp salesman's Weepinbell||Here's Lookin' at You, Elekid||Both released the same episode.|
|Ash's Aipom||Dawn's Buizel||Throwing the Track Switch|
|Bianca's Shelmet||Professor Juniper's Karrablast||Evolution Exchange Excitement!||Evolved into Accelgor and Escavalier respectively.|
|Jessie's Pumpkaboo||Count Pumpka's Mawile||A Festival Trade! A Festival Farewell?||Pumpkaboo evolves into Gourgeist.|
The trade is reversed the same episode.
|A Gentleman's Farfetch'd||A girl's Spearow||Trade, Borrow, and Steal!|
|Goh's second Pinsir||Kricketina Kylie's Heracross|
In the manga
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Reason: Trades in other mangas
Like the anime, Pokémon Adventures does not contain many trades despite being a major part of the games. Most are not shown to need a machine to complete them. Simply hand-exchanging Pokémon can count as a trade, though it is also possible to trade by placing Pokédexes opposite each other.
List of trades in Pokémon Adventures
|First Trainer's Pokémon||Second Trainer's Pokémon||Round traded||Notes|
|Red's Poli, Saur, and Pika||Blue's Charmeleon, Scyther, Golduck
Machoke, Pidgeot, and Porygon
|A Tale of Ninetales||Accident. Returned in the same round.|
Machoke evolves into Machamp from the trade.
|Red's Krabby||Misty's Gyarados||You Know... Articuno!|
(Holding King's Rock)
(Holding Dragon Scale)
|Ampharos Amore||Traded via Pokédex.|
Evolved into Politoed and Kingdra, respectively.
Returned in the following round.
|Red's Gyara||Blue's Charizard||Rock, Paper...Scizor||Returned in The Last Battle XIV.|
|Red's Saur||Blue's Charizard||Give It Your Best, Blastoise||Returned in Phew for Mew.|
|Silver (traded Pokémon unknown)||Prior to Raising the Stakes with Rhyperior||Traded via Pokédex.|
Rhydon evolved into Rhyperior.
Returned prior to PS582.
|Blake's Shelmet||Whitley's Karrablast||Abyssal Ruins||Traded via Pokédex.|
Evolved into Accelgor and Escavalier respectively.
In the TCG
The following is a list of cards relating to trades.
Cards listed with a blue background are only legal to use in the current Expanded format.
Cards listed with a silver background are legal to use in both the current Standard and Expanded formats.
|Pokémon Trader||T||Base Set||77/102||Expansion Pack|
|Base Set 2||106/130|
|Trade Please!||T||Unnumbered Promotional cards|
|Deck Exchange||T||Expansion Sheet 3|
|Bill's PC||T||Expansion Sheet 3|
- Satoshi Tajiri created Pokémon around the core concept of trading.
- Porygon is the only Pokémon to evolve twice via trading. Both evolutions require a held item, namely the Upgrade and Dubious Disc.
- In addition, Porygon2 is the only Pokémon to have evolved from trading that can evolve further.
- The Clamperl family is the only branched evolution in which both evolutions are achieved by trading.
In other languages
- Trade machine
- In-game trade
- Global Trade System
- Episodes in which a main character trades away a Pokémon
|Catching • Nicknaming • Battling • Evolving • Trading • Breeding • Releasing|