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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.

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

Payment key pair

To generate a payment key pair:

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

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

Stake key pair

To generate a stake key pair :

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

Payment address

Both verification keys (payment.vkey and stake.vkey) are used to build the address and the resulting payment address is associated with these keys.

cardano-cli 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 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


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 of the node.socket:

cardano-cli query utxo \
--address $(cat payment.addr) \