Cardano Improvement Proposals

CIP 19 - Cardano Addresses



This specification describes the binary structure of addresses in Cardano, covering both addresses introduced in the Shelley era and the legacy format from the Byron era.


Document design choices for posterity. Most applications interacting with the Cardano blockchain will likely not have any need for this level of details, however, some might. This CIP is meant to capture this knowledge.



In Cardano, addresses are comprised of two parts, a header and a payload. Depending on the header, the interpretation of the payload varies.

In the header, bits [7;4] indicate the type of addresses being used; we'll call these four bits the header type. The remaining four bits [3;0] are either unused or refer to what we'll call the network tag. There are currently 11 types of addresses in Cardano which we'll divide into three categories: Shelley addresses, stake addresses, and Byron addresses.

  1 byte     variable length   
     <------> <-------------------> 
    │ header │        payload      │
        ╎          7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0  
        ╎         ┌─┬─┬─┬─┬─┬─┬─┬─┐ 
        ╰╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌ │t│t│t│t│n│n│n│n│ 

See also the more detailed ABNF grammar in annex.

Network Tag

Except for Byron addresses (type 8 = 1000), the second half of the header (bits [3;0]) refers to the network tag which can have the following values and semantics. Other values of the network tag are currently reserved for future network types. In the case of Byron addresses, bits [3;0] have a completely separate definition detailed in the section below.

Network Tag (. . . . n n n n) Semantic
....0000 Testnet(s)
....0001 Mainnet

User-facing Encoding

By convention, Shelley and stake addresses are encoded using bech32 with human-readable prefixes defined in CIP-0005. Byron addresses are however encoded in base58. Historically, Byron addresses were introduced before the design of bech32, which solves various issues of the base58 encoding format (see bech32's motivation for more detail). Byron addresses were however kept as Base58 to easily distinguish them from new addresses introduced in Shelley, massively making use of bech32 for encoding small binary objects.


Address Type Encoding Example
Byron Base58 37btjrVyb4KDXBNC4haBVPCrro8AQPHwvCMp3RFhhSVWwfFmZ6wwzSK6JK1hY6wHNmtrpTf1kdbva8TCneM2YsiXT7mrzT21EacHnPpz5YyUdj64na
Shelley bech32 addr1vpu5vlrf4xkxv2qpwngf6cjhtw542ayty80v8dyr49rf5eg0yu80w
stake bech32 stake1vpu5vlrf4xkxv2qpwngf6cjhtw542ayty80v8dyr49rf5egfu2p0u

Shelley Addresses

There are currently 8 types of Shelley addresses summarized in the table below:

Header type (t t t t . . . .) Payment Part Delegation Part
(0) 0000.... PaymentKeyHash StakeKeyHash
(1) 0001.... ScriptHash StakeKeyHash
(2) 0010.... PaymentKeyHash ScriptHash
(3) 0011.... ScriptHash ScriptHash
(4) 0100.... PaymentKeyHash Pointer
(5) 0101.... ScriptHash Pointer
(6) 0110.... PaymentKeyHash ø
(7) 0111.... ScriptHash ø

Payment part

Fundamentally, the first part of a Shelley address indicates the ownership of the funds associated with the address. We call it, the payment part. Whoever owns the payment parts owns any funds at the address. As a matter of fact, in order to spend from an address, one must provide a witness attesting that the address can be spent. In the case of a PubKeyHash, it means providing a signature of the transaction body made with the signing key corresponding to the hashed public key (as well as the public key itself for verification). For monetary scripts, it means being able to provide the source script and meet the necessary conditions to validate the script.

Delegation part

The second part of a Shelley address indicates the owner of the stake rights associated with the address. We call it, the delegation part. Whoever owns the delegation parts owns the stake rights of any funds associated with the address. In most scenarios, the payment part and the delegation part are owned by the same party. Yet it is possible to construct addresses where both parts are owned and managed by separate entities. We call such addresses mangled addresses or hybrid addresses.

Some addresses (types 6 and 7) carry no delegation part whatsoever. Their associated stake can't be delegated. They can be used by parties who want to prove that they are not delegating funds which is typically the case for custodial businesses managing funds on the behalf of other stakeholders. Delegation parts can also be defined in terms of on-chain pointers.


In an address, a chain pointer refers to a point of the chain containing a stake key registration certificate. A point is identified by 3 coordinates:

These coordinates form a concise way of referring to a stake key (typically half the size of a stake key hash). They are serialized as three variable-length positive numbers following the ABNF grammar here below:

            | VARIABLE-LENGTH-UINT ; transaction index
            | VARIABLE-LENGTH-UINT ; output index
                         / (%b0 | UINT7)
    UINT7 = 7BIT 

Stake Addresses

Like Shelley addresses, stake addresses (also known as reward addresses) start with a single header byte identifying their type and the network, followed by 28 bytes of payload identifying either a stake key hash or a script hash.

Header type (t t t t . . . .) Stake Reference
(8) 1110.... StakeKeyHash
(9) 1111.... ScriptHash

Byron Addresses

Before diving, please acknowledge that a lot of the supported capabilities of Byron addresses have remained mainly unused. The initial design showed important trade-offs and rendered it unpractical to sustain the long-term goals of the network. A new format was created when introducing Shelley and Byron addresses were kept only for backward compatibility. Byron addresses are also sometimes called bootstrap addresses.

Like many other objects on the Cardano blockchain yet unlike Shelley addresses, Byron addresses are CBOR-encoded binary objects. Conveniently enough, the first 4 bits of their first byte are always equal to 1000.... which allows us to land back on our feet w.r.t to the address type. Their internal structure is however vastly different and a bit unusual.

    │  root  │  attributes  │  type  │
      ╎        ╎              ╎ 
      ╎        ╎              ╰╌╌ Standard   
      ╎        ╎              ╰╌╌ Redeem
      ╎        ╎ 
      ╎        ╰╌╌ Derivation Path
      ╎        ╰╌╌ Network Tag    
      ╎                   ┌────────┬─────────────────┬──────────────┐
      ╰╌╌╌╌ double-hash ( │  type  │  spending data  │  attributes  │ )
                                     ╰╌╌ Verification Key
                                     ╰╌╌ Redemption Key

The address root uniquely identifies the address and is a double-hash digest (SHA3-256, and then Blake2b-224) of the address type, spending data, and attributes.

Then comes the address attributes which are both optional. The network tag is present only on test networks and contains an identifier that is used for network discrimination. The derivation path (detailed below) was used by legacy so-called random wallets in the early days of Cardano and its usage was abandoned with the introduction of Yoroi and so-called Icarus addresses.

Finally, the address type allows for distinguishing different sub-types of Byron addresses. Redeem addresses are used inside the Byron genesis configuration and were given to early investors who helped to fund the project.

A full and more detailed CDDL specification of Byron addresses is given in the annex to the CIP.

Derivation path

Historically, Cardano wallets have been storing information about the wallet structure directly within the address. This information comes in the form of two derivation indexes (in the sense of child key derivation as defined in BIP-0032) which we call derivation path. To protect the wallet's anonymity, the derivation path is stored encrypted using a ChaCha20/Poly1305 authenticated cipher.



Backwards Compatibility


Reference Implementation(s)

Test Vectors

All test vectors below use the following payment key, stake key, script and pointer:

        type-00: addr1qx2fxv2umyhttkxyxp8x0dlpdt3k6cwng5pxj3jhsydzer3n0d3vllmyqwsx5wktcd8cc3sq835lu7drv2xwl2wywfgse35a3x
        type-01: addr1z8phkx6acpnf78fuvxn0mkew3l0fd058hzquvz7w36x4gten0d3vllmyqwsx5wktcd8cc3sq835lu7drv2xwl2wywfgs9yc0hh
        type-02: addr1yx2fxv2umyhttkxyxp8x0dlpdt3k6cwng5pxj3jhsydzerkr0vd4msrxnuwnccdxlhdjar77j6lg0wypcc9uar5d2shs2z78ve
        type-03: addr1x8phkx6acpnf78fuvxn0mkew3l0fd058hzquvz7w36x4gt7r0vd4msrxnuwnccdxlhdjar77j6lg0wypcc9uar5d2shskhj42g
        type-04: addr1gx2fxv2umyhttkxyxp8x0dlpdt3k6cwng5pxj3jhsydzer5pnz75xxcrzqf96k
        type-05: addr128phkx6acpnf78fuvxn0mkew3l0fd058hzquvz7w36x4gtupnz75xxcrtw79hu
        type-06: addr1vx2fxv2umyhttkxyxp8x0dlpdt3k6cwng5pxj3jhsydzers66hrl8
        type-07: addr1w8phkx6acpnf78fuvxn0mkew3l0fd058hzquvz7w36x4gtcyjy7wx
        type-08: stake1uyehkck0lajq8gr28t9uxnuvgcqrc6070x3k9r8048z8y5gh6ffgw
        type-09: stake178phkx6acpnf78fuvxn0mkew3l0fd058hzquvz7w36x4gtcccycj5
        type-00: addr_test1qz2fxv2umyhttkxyxp8x0dlpdt3k6cwng5pxj3jhsydzer3n0d3vllmyqwsx5wktcd8cc3sq835lu7drv2xwl2wywfgs68faae
        type-01: addr_test1zrphkx6acpnf78fuvxn0mkew3l0fd058hzquvz7w36x4gten0d3vllmyqwsx5wktcd8cc3sq835lu7drv2xwl2wywfgsxj90mg
        type-02: addr_test1yz2fxv2umyhttkxyxp8x0dlpdt3k6cwng5pxj3jhsydzerkr0vd4msrxnuwnccdxlhdjar77j6lg0wypcc9uar5d2shsf5r8qx
        type-03: addr_test1xrphkx6acpnf78fuvxn0mkew3l0fd058hzquvz7w36x4gt7r0vd4msrxnuwnccdxlhdjar77j6lg0wypcc9uar5d2shs4p04xh
        type-04: addr_test1gz2fxv2umyhttkxyxp8x0dlpdt3k6cwng5pxj3jhsydzer5pnz75xxcrdw5vky
        type-05: addr_test12rphkx6acpnf78fuvxn0mkew3l0fd058hzquvz7w36x4gtupnz75xxcryqrvmw
        type-06: addr_test1vz2fxv2umyhttkxyxp8x0dlpdt3k6cwng5pxj3jhsydzerspjrlsz
        type-07: addr_test1wrphkx6acpnf78fuvxn0mkew3l0fd058hzquvz7w36x4gtcl6szpr
        type-08: stake_test1uqehkck0lajq8gr28t9uxnuvgcqrc6070x3k9r8048z8y5gssrtvn
        type-09: stake_test17rphkx6acpnf78fuvxn0mkew3l0fd058hzquvz7w36x4gtcljw6kf