Getting started with native tokens


This section is for advanced users who are proficient with the Cardano-node command line interface (CLI).

This section describes how to:

  • create new currencies and assets;
  • submit and send transactions containing multi-asset tokens;
  • send and receive token bundles;
  • manage your addresses and values.

Note: Users who do not need to create new assets ('token holders') will be able to send and receive existing multi-asset tokens using a wallet such as Daedalus or Yoroi, and with no requirement to use any CLI commands.

To start, please ensure that you are familiar with setting up and operating the Cardano node. Alternatively, see instructions on how to start your node to submit the commands. You will not need to set up and start a full block producing node (“stake pool”), just a much simpler relay node. This node will need to connect to a Cardano network that is capable of processing native tokens (e.g., the native token pre-production environment (PPE), or the Cardano Mainnet once it has been upgraded).

Configuring cardano-node to run using cardano-cli

This document describes how to interact with the node from a bash command line, but it is also possible to download and run the node as a docker image, which will involve less system configuration. The docker image is input-output/cardano-node - please ensure you have the latest version of the node.

To configure cardno-node to communicate with the public testnet environment, first build and install the node as described in, and then set up its configuration:

mkdir -p testnet/config
cd testnet
# download and save the configuration files to the config subdirectory

You may then use the following command from the mary-ppe directory to start the relay node. Note that you do not need to configure and run the node as a “stake pool” (block producing node):

cardano-node run --topology config/topology.json
--database-path db --config config/config.json --port 3001

The latest configuration files can be found here. We recommend you download all the files that are associated with the pre-prod cluster and copy them to your config subdirectory.

Once you have started the node, leave it running in its own terminal window (or run it in the background if you prefer).

Using the Cardano CLI

Once a relay node has been set up, the cardano-cli command can be used to interact with the network as usual:

cd testnet
cardano-cli ...

Understanding values

cardano-node version 1.32.1 and later of the cli no longer supports ASCII token names, only hex-encoded format is supported. The result of running

$ echo -n "assetName" | xxd -ps

Lovelace values can be specified in two ways:

  • ${quantity} lovelace (where quantity is a signed integer)
  • ${quantity} (where quantity is a signed integer)
  • ${assetName} (where assetName is hex-encoded 61737365744e616d65)

Values for other assets can be specified as:

  • ${quantity} ${policyId}.${assetName}
  • ${quantity} ${policyId}

Where quantity is a signed integer and policyId is a hex-encoded policy ID [a script hash]), and assetName is a hex-encoded assetName.

Syntax of multi-asset values

The cardano-cli can specify multi-asset values in transaction outputs and when minting or burning tokens. The syntax for these values has been designed to be backwards-compatible with the previous ada-only syntax (address+lovelace):

  • ada values are defined as integer (INT) lovelace, e.g. 42 lovelace
  • multi-asset values can be defined as:
    • INT policyid.assetName, e.g. 42 $MYPOLICY.61737365744e616d65
    • INT policyid, e.g. 42 $MYPOLICY (No assetName specified)
    • policyid.assetName, e.g $MYPOLICY.61737365744e616d65 (This will mint only one of assetName)
  • Multiple assets can be combined in the same multi-asset value using the + operator, e.g:

100 lovelace + 42 $MYPOLICY.666f6f + -2 $MYPOLICY.626172 + 10 lovelace

Negating individual values

Any individual value can be negated using the - prefix operator. For example:

  • -42 $MYPOLICY
  • -72191 $MYPOLICY.666f6f
  • -100
  • -920 lovelace

Combining individual values

Values can be combined using the binary operator +. For example:

  • 42 lovelace + -1 (this would result in a Value of 41 lovelace)
  • 20 $MYPOLICY + 12 $MYPOLICY.666f6f + -2 $MYPOLICY.626172
  • 201 4$MYPOLICY.666f6f + 12 + -1 + 9 lovelace + 10 $MYPOLICY

Creating a Transaction

The native tokens syntax can be used in the following contexts:

  • cardano-cli transaction build-raw --tx-out="..."
  • cardano-cli transaction build-raw --mint="..."

The CLI command cardano-cli transaction build-raw creates the transaction body. The --tx-out option specifies the transaction output in the usual way (This is expressed as address+lovelace, where address is a Bech32-encoded address, and lovelace is the amount in lovelace), and the --mint option specifies the value to be minted or burnt.

Transaction outputs (TxOuts)

The syntax for TxOut values has been extended to include multi-asset tokens. These values can be specified in two different ways:

  • $address $value
  • ${address}+${value}

(where address is a Cardano address and value is a value). The second form is provided for backwards compatibility with earlier versions of the node.

To receive tokens, you just need to specify any address. It is not necessary to use special addresses to hold multi-asset tokens.

To inspect the values in an address, you need to view a UTXO value using:

cardano-cli query utxo --testnet-magic 1

This will show the content of any token bundles that you possess. You can choose to see a specific address using the --address $ADDRESS option:

cardano-cli query utxo --address "$ADDRESS" --testnet-magic 1

Token minting policies

Token minting policies are written using multi-signature scripts. This allows the asset controller to express conditions such as the need for specific token issuers to agree to mint new tokens, or to forbid minting tokens after a certain slot (if token locking is also used).

Here’s an example of a very simple minting policy, which grants the right to mint tokens to a single key:

"keyHash": "fe38d7...599",
"type": "sig"

This minting policy requires any transaction that mints tokens to be witnessed by the key with the hash fe38d7...599. More involved examples can be found in the multi-signature simple scripts documentation.

Example: minting a new native token


This section describes how to manually mint a new native token ('melcoin') using cardano-cli, and send a transaction of this newly minted token to a new address.


  1. Download the latest version of cardano-node from the releases page ( and config files for the public testnet from the Cardano World (

  2. Run the cardano-node:

./cardano-node run --topology ./lpconfig/testnet-topology.json --database-path ./state-lp --port 3001
--config ./lpconfig/testnet-config.json --socket-path ~/cardano-lp.socket
export CARDANO_NODE_SOCKET_PATH=~/cardano-lp.socket
  1. Generate a verification key and a signing key:
cardano-cli address key-gen \
--verification-key-file pay.vkey \
--signing-key-file pay.skey

The code should output something similar to this:

$ cat pay.skey
"type": "PaymentSigningKeyShelley_ed25519",
"description": "Payment Signing Key",
"cborHex": "5820aed07e0b1ddd946da278ffb1f671cc5b24c8453e6b47c24b0a6b15d818444fe8"
$ cat pay.vkey
"type": "PaymentVerificationKeyShelley_ed25519",
"description": "Payment Verification Key",
"cborHex": "582031752dd50ffe7ed90ba136ea775dacd5113ff67d13001a25aac953f719aa1f92"
  1. Generate the payment address:
./cardano-cli address build \
--payment-verification-key-file pay.vkey \
--out-file pay.addr \
--testnet-magic 1

This code produces the following payment address:

$ cat pay.addr
  1. Check the balance of the payment address:
./cardano-cli query utxo --address addr_test1vqvlku0ytscqg32rpv660uu4sgxlje25s5xrpz7zjqsva3c8pfckz --testnet-magic 1

The response should show no funds:

TxHash TxIx Amount
  1. Fund the address and check again:
./cardano-cli query utxo --address addr_test1vqvlku0ytscqg32rpv660uu4sgxlje25s5xrpz7zjqsva3c8pfckz --testnet-magic 1
TxHash TxIx Amount
b1ddb0347fed2aecc7f00caabaaf2634f8e2d17541f6237bbed78e2092e1c414 0 1000000000 lovelace
  1. Export the protocol parameters to a file for later use:
cardano-cli query protocol-parameters \
--testnet-magic 1 \
--out-file protocol.json

Start the minting process

  1. Create a policy:
mkdir policy
cardano-cli address key-gen \
--verification-key-file policy/policy.vkey \
--signing-key-file policy/policy.skey
touch policy/policy.script && echo "" > policy/policy.script
echo "{" >> policy/policy.script
echo " \"keyHash\": \"$(./cardano-cli address key-hash --payment-verification-key-file policy/policy.vkey)\"," >> policy/policy.script
echo " \"type\": \"sig\"" >> policy/policy.script
echo "}" >> policy/policy.script
cat ./policy/policy.script
"keyHash": "5805823e303fb28231a736a3eb4420261bb42019dc3605dd83cccd04",
"type": "sig"
  1. Mint the new asset:
$ ./cardano-cli transaction policyid --script-file ./policy/policy.script

Build the raw transaction

  1. Use this code to build the raw transaction:
$ echo -n "melcoin" | xxd -ps
./cardano-cli transaction build-raw \
--fee 0 \
--tx-in b1ddb0347fed2aecc7f00caabaaf2634f8e2d17541f6237bbed78e2092e1c414#0 \
--tx-out addr_test1vqvlku0ytscqg32rpv660uu4sgxlje25s5xrpz7zjqsva3c8pfckz+1000000000+"1000000000 328a60495759e0d8e244eca5b85b2467d142c8a755d6cd0592dff47b.6d656c636f696e" \
--mint="1000000000 328a60495759e0d8e244eca5b85b2467d142c8a755d6cd0592dff47b.6d656c636f696e" \
--out-file matx.raw

Calculate the minimum fee

Use this code to calculate the minimum fee required for the transaction:

./cardano-cli transaction calculate-min-fee \
--tx-body-file matx.raw \
--tx-in-count 1 \
--tx-out-count 1 \
--witness-count 2 \
--testnet-magic 1 \
--protocol-params-file protocol.json
180109 Lovelace

Build the transaction again

The transaction will now include the fee:

./cardano-cli transaction build-raw \
--fee 180109 \
--tx-in b1ddb0347fed2aecc7f00caabaaf2634f8e2d17541f6237bbed78e2092e1c414#0 \
--tx-out addr_test1vqvlku0ytscqg32rpv660uu4sgxlje25s5xrpz7zjqsva3c8pfckz+999819891+"1000000000 328a60495759e0d8e244eca5b85b2467d142c8a755d6cd0592dff47b.6d656c636f696e" \
--mint="1000000000 328a60495759e0d8e244eca5b85b2467d142c8a755d6cd0592dff47b.6d656c636f696e" \
--out-file matx.raw

Sign the transaction:

./cardano-cli transaction sign \
--signing-key-file pay.skey \
--signing-key-file policy/policy.skey \
--script-file policy/policy.script \
--testnet-magic 1 \
--tx-body-file matx.raw \
--out-file matx.signed

Submit the transaction:

./cardano-cli transaction submit --tx-file matx.signed --testnet-magic 1

No response, which is the expected result. Check the Utxo for


./cardano-cli query utxo --address addr_test1vqvlku0ytscqg32rpv660uu4sgxlje25s5xrpz7zjqsva3c8pfckz --testnet-magic 1
TxHash TxIx Amount
fd0790f3984348f65ee22f35480b873b4eb9862065514f3e3a9c0f04d0a6ad63 0 999821915 lovelace + 1000000000 328a60495759e0d8e244eca5b85b2467d142c8a755d6cd0592dff47b.6d656c636f696e

Send the new native asset to another address

  1. Generate a recipient address:

First, we need to generate an address to send the newly minted asset to.

mkdir recipient
  1. Generate the key pair:
cardano-cli address key-gen \
--verification-key-file recipient/recipientpay.vkey \
--signing-key-file recipient/recipientpay.skey
  1. Derive the payment address:
./cardano-cli address build \
--payment-verification-key-file recipient/recipientpay.vkey \
--out-file recipient/recipientpay.addr \
--testnet-magic 1
$ cat recipient/recipientpay.addr
  1. Send 1 melcoin to the recipient address:
./cardano-cli transaction build-raw \
--fee 0 \
--tx-in fd0790f3984348f65ee22f35480b873b4eb9862065514f3e3a9c0f04d0a6ad63#0 \
--tx-out addr_test1vp8s8zu6mr73nvlsjf935k0a38n8xvp3fptkyz2vl8pserqkcx5yz+10000000+"1 328a60495759e0d8e244eca5b85b2467d142c8a755d6cd0592dff47b.6d656c636f696e" \
--tx-out addr_test1vqvlku0ytscqg32rpv660uu4sgxlje25s5xrpz7zjqsva3c8pfckz+999821915+"999000000 328a60495759e0d8e244eca5b85b2467d142c8a755d6cd0592dff47b.6d656c636f696e" \
--out-file rec_matx.raw
  1. Calculate the minimum fee.

Use this code to calculate the minimum fee for the transaction:

./cardano-cli transaction calculate-min-fee \
--tx-body-file rec_matx.raw \
--tx-in-count 1 \
--tx-out-count 2 \
--witness-count 1 \
--testnet-magic 1 \
--protocol-params-file protocol.json
178393 Lovelace
./cardano-cli transaction build-raw \
--fee 178393 \
--tx-in fd0790f3984348f65ee22f35480b873b4eb9862065514f3e3a9c0f04d0a6ad63#0 \
--tx-out addr_test1vp8s8zu6mr73nvlsjf935k0a38n8xvp3fptkyz2vl8pserqkcx5yz+10000000+"1 328a60495759e0d8e244eca5b85b2467d142c8a755d6cd0592dff47b.6d656c636f696e" \
--tx-out addr_test1vqvlku0ytscqg32rpv660uu4sgxlje25s5xrpz7zjqsva3c8pfckz+989643522+"999999999 328a60495759e0d8e244eca5b85b2467d142c8a755d6cd0592dff47b.6d656c636f696e" \
--out-file rec_matx.raw

Sign the transaction

Sign the transaction using the keys generated earlier:

./cardano-cli transaction sign \
--signing-key-file pay.skey \
--testnet-magic 1 \
--tx-body-file rec_matx.raw \
--out-file rec_matx.signed

Submit the transaction

Submit the transaction to the chain:

./cardano-cli transaction submit --tx-file rec_matx.signed --testnet-magic 1

Note that we must send more than 1000000 Lovelace in the transaction. This minimum value is specified in the config file:

$ cat lpconfig/launchpad-shelley-genesis.json | grep minUTxOValue
"minUTxOValue": 1000000,

Check the UTXO for address addr_test1vp8s8zu6mr73nvlsjf935k0a38n8xvp3fptkyz2vl8pserqkcx5yz:

./cardano-cli query utxo --address addr_test1vp8s8zu6mr73nvlsjf935k0a38n8xvp3fptkyz2vl8pserqkcx5yz --testnet-magic 1
TxHash TxIx Amount
f90b8457a2cf6a1aba9c0001ae2c7084f653083c6108826115a0a64e862333a3 0 10000000 lovelace + 1 328a60495759e0d8e244eca5b85b2467d142c8a755d6cd0592dff47b.6d656c636f696e

The recipient address we created now has 10000000 Lovelace and 1 melcoin.

Check the UTXO for address addr_test1vqvlku0ytscqg32rpv660uu4sgxlje25s5xrpz7zjqsva3c8pfckz:

./cardano-cli query utxo --address addr_test1vqvlku0ytscqg32rpv660uu4sgxlje25s5xrpz7zjqsva3c8pfckz --testnet-magic 1
TxHash TxIx Amount
f90b8457a2cf6a1aba9c0001ae2c7084f653083c6108826115a0a64e862333a3 1 989643522 lovelace + 999999999 328a60495759e0d8e244eca5b85b2467d142c8a755d6cd0592dff47b.6d656c636f696e

The sender address now has 989643522 Lovelace and 999999999 melcoin.

Submitting a transaction

Before submitting the transaction to the network, it needs to be signed. We need witnesses from two keys - one to spend the input $UTXO, and one to satisfy the minting policy script:

cardano-cli transaction sign \
--signing-key-file "$SPENDING_KEY" \
--signing-key-file "$MINTING_KEY" \
--script-file "$SCRIPT" \
--testnet-magic 1 \
--tx-body-file "$TX_BODY_FILE" \
--out-file "$TX_FILE"

Here, $SPENDING_KEY is the key that allows spending from $UTXO, and $MINTING_KEY is the key that hashes to the value specified in the $SCRIPT.

To submit a transaction to the network, use the following command:

cardano-cli transaction submit --tx-file "$TX_FILE" --testnet-magic 1

The newly minted tokens will appear in the UTXO, and can be checked by:

cardano-cli query utxo --testnet-magic 1

The corresponding output shows the different types of asset that are embedded in the UTXO:

TxHash TxIx Amount
377eab...ad7 0 500000000 lovelace + 5 1cc8a9...a25.couttscoin
377eab...ad7 1 500000000 lovelace

Once tokens are minted, they can be communicated using ordinary transactions, without using the --mint field. Note that in order to be valid, a transaction has to be balanced, and you should also have a minimum value of lovelace in every transaction output.

Transferring tokens

Tokens can be sent just like ada by any token holder. There is a caveat: every transaction output must contain some ada. This is because there is a minimum value of ada that is needed per transaction output. This value is given by a protocol parameter. In particular, it is not possible to send only multi-asset tokens in a transaction, as some ada always needs to be included in each output.

For example, some couttscoin tokens could be sent using the following commands:

TXID=$(cardano-cli transaction txid --tx-body-file "$TX_BODY_FILE")
cardano-cli transaction build-raw \
--fee 0 \
--tx-in "$TXID"#0 \
--tx-out="$ADDR+$LOVELACE+5 $POLICYID.636f75747473636f696e" \
--out-file "$TX_BODY_FILE_1"
cardano-cli transaction sign \
--signing-key-file "$SPENDING_KEY" \
--testnet-magic 1097911063 \
--tx-body-file "$TX_BODY_FILE_1" \
--out-file "$TX_FILE_1"
cardano-cli transaction submit --tx-file "$TX_FILE_1" --testnet-magic 1

Buying and spending tokens

Token holders “buy” tokens from a token issuer. This will usually involve sending some ada to a specific address that has been set up by the token issuer and informing the token issuer about the address where the tokens should be sent. The token issuer will then set up a transaction that will transfer a multi-asset token to the specified address.

Tokens that have been issued to a token holder can be “spent” by returning them to a token issuer (i.e. by redeeming the tokens). This is done using a normal transaction. The token issuer will then provide the token holder with the agreed object in return (which may be an item of value, a service, a different kind of token, some ada, etc).

cardano-cli transaction build-raw ... --out-file txbody
cardano-cli transaction sign ... --tx-body-file txbody --out-file tx
cardano-cli transaction submit ... --tx-file tx

Destroying (burning) tokens

Tokens can be destroyed by a token issuer according to the token policy by supplying a negative value in the --mint field. That allows acquiring tokens in the UTXO entry in the input of a transaction, without adding them to one of the outputs, effectively destroying them. For example, tokens created in the previous section can be destroyed as follows:

TXID1=$(cardano-cli transaction txid --tx-body-file "$TX_BODY_FILE_1")
cardano-cli transaction build-raw \
--fee 0 \
--tx-in "$TXID1"#0 \
--tx-out="$ADDR+$LOVELACE" \
--mint="-5 $POLICYID.636f75747473636f696e" \
--out-file "$TX_BODY_FILE_2"
cardano-cli transaction sign \
--signing-key-file "$SPENDING_KEY" \
--signing-key-file "$MINTING_KEY" \
--script-file "$SCRIPT" \
--testnet-magic 1 \
--tx-body-file "$TX_BODY_FILE_2" \
--out-file "TX_FILE_2"
cardano-cli transaction submit --tx-file "$TX_FILE_2" --testnet-magic 1097911063

Note: Destroying tokens requires both the payment credential for using the UTXO entry with the tokens, and a credential for the minting policy script.