Collective cell migration is essential for embryonic development, tissue regeneration and repair, and has been implicated in pathological conditions such as cancer metastasis. It is, in part, directed by external cues that promote front-to-rear polarity in individual cells. However, our understanding of the pathways that underpin the directional movement of cells in response to external cues remains incomplete. To examine this issue we made use of neural crest cells (NC), which migrate as a collective during development to generate vital structures including bones and cartilage. Using a candidate approach, we found an essential role for Ran-binding protein 1 (RanBP1), a key effector of the nucleocytoplasmic transport pathway, in enabling directed migration of these cells. Our results indicate that RanBP1 is required for establishing front-to-rear polarity, so that NCs are able to chemotax. Moreover, our work suggests that RanBP1 function in chemotaxis involves the polarity kinase LKB1/PAR4. We envisage that regulated nuclear export of LKB1 through Ran/RanBP1 is a key regulatory step required for establishing front-to-rear polarity and thus chemotaxis, during NC collective migration.