Abstract Benefit transfer uses research results from pre-existing primary research to predict welfare estimates for other sites of policy significance for which primary valuation estimates are unavailable. Despite the sizable literature and the ubiquity of benefit transfer in policy analysis, the method remains subject to controversy. There is also a divergence between transfer practices recommended by the scholarly literature and those commonly applied within policy analysis. The size, complexity and relative disorganization of the literature may represent an obstacle to the use of updated methods by practitioners. Recognizing the importance of benefit transfer for policymaking and the breadth of associated scholarly work, this paper reviews and synthesizes the benefit transfer literature. It highlights methods, trends and controversies in contemporary research, identifies issues and challenges facing benefit transfer practitioners and summarizes research contributions. Several areas of future research on benefit transfers naturally emerge.