Creating keys and addresses

In the Shelley era of Cardano, every stakeholder can have two sets of keys and addresses:

  • Payment Keys and addresses: To send and receive transactions

  • Stake Keys and addresses: To control protocol participation, create a stake pool, delegate and receive rewards.

Payment key pair

To generate a payment key pair:

cardano-cli shelley address key-gen \
--verification-key-file payment.vkey \
--signing-key-file payment.skey

This creates two files (payment.vkey and payment.skey), one containing the public verification key, one the private signing key.

Legacy key

To generate Byron-era _payment key:

Payment key files use the following format:

    "type": "PaymentSigningKeyByron_ed25519_bip32",
    "description": "Payment Signing Key",
    "cborHex": "hex-here"

Where the hex-here is generated as 0x5880 | xprv | pub | chaincode

Stake key pair

To generate a stake key pair :

cardano-cli shelley stake-address key-gen \
--verification-key-file stake.vkey \
--signing-key-file stake.skey

Payment address

When including both verification keys payment.vkey and stake.vkey to build the address, the resulting payment address is associated with this stake keys and address.

cardano-cli shelley address build \
--payment-verification-key-file payment.vkey \
--stake-verification-key-file stake.vkey \
--out-file payment.addr \

Stake address

To generate a stake address:

cardano-cli shelley stake-address build \
--stake-verification-key-file stake.vkey \
--out-file stake.addr \

This address CAN’T receive payments but will receive the rewards from participating in the protocol.

Query the balance of an address

NOTE: Ensure that your node has synced to the current block height which can be checked at If it is not, you may see an error referring to the Byron Era.

To query the balance of an address we need a running node and the environment variable CARDANO_NODE_SOCKET_PATH set to the path to the node.socket:

cardano-cli shelley query utxo \
--address $(cat payment.addr) \
                            TxHash                                 TxIx        Lovelace

Note--mainnet identifies the Cardano mainnet, for testnets use --testnet-magic 1097911063 instead.