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Author Topic: What private key format to use to import a Bip-38 paper wallet into Electrum?  (Read 145 times)
LegalB
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February 14, 2019, 03:09:16 PM
Merited by bones261 (1), LoyceV (1)
 #1

I want to import a Bip-38 paper wallet private key into a new Electrum 3.3.3 wallet, of the type to do this.

But when I decrypt the Bip-38 paper wallet I'm provided with the Private Key in various formats and I don't know which to use.

They are:

    Private key WIF (51 characters base 58, starts with a "5"

    Private Key WIF Compressed (52 characters base 58, starts with a "K" or "L";

    Private Key Hexadecimal Format (64 characters [0-9A-F]);

    Private Key Base64 (44 characters); or

    Private Key BIP38 Format (58 characters base58, starts with '6P')

I tried the first starting with "5" but Electrum's IMPORT button remains greyed out so it can't be that. I tried the next format (the Private Key WIF Compressed starting wiht "K" or "L"), and the IMPORT BUTTON became clickable so I clicked it.

But no coin has shown up in the Electrum wallet after an hour.

Could someone please assist?
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February 14, 2019, 04:15:16 PM
 #2

Are you sure you decrypted the wallet correctly?

You should be able to import the decrypted "Private key WIF (51 characters base 58, starts with a "5")" in electrum just fine.

Maybe check if you've made any copy&pasting mistakes somewhere?

I tried the first starting with "5" but Electrum's IMPORT button remains greyed out so it can't be that. I
I just generated a BIP38 wallet, decrypted it, and imported this very key into electrum without any problems..? Maybe try to make a new electrum wallet instead of trying to import the key into an already existing one, i'm not sure, but perhaps that could be an issue..?

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February 14, 2019, 05:00:59 PM
Merited by bones261 (2), ETFbitcoin (1), LoyceV (1)
 #3

WIF keys are the only ones you should use. The uncompressed (begins with 5) and compressed private keys (K or L) correspond to different addresses. Look them up on a block explorer to find out if any coins were sent there and then import the corresponding priv key.

WIF keys have a checksum in them that detects typos. The reason you couldn't import the uncompressed priv key is because you made a mistake copying it or copied extraneous characters. That's why the next button was greyed out.

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February 14, 2019, 07:04:15 PM
 #4

What letter does the private key begin with there are one of three issues.
1. It could be without a checksum.
2. It could be decrypted with the wrong password.
3. It could just have been saved wrong.

Does the encrypted key begin with a U? If not add one and try again (if its in base58).

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February 15, 2019, 02:47:18 AM
Merited by bones261 (4), Abdussamad (2)
 #5

Both Compressed and Uncompressed WIF (Wallet Import Format) private keys will work on Electrum.

But since your compressed key worked but generated the wrong address, the problem should be the address' format.
Please tell us the first three characters of the address that you're trying to import.

Or follow this:
  • If it starts with "3", import it like this: p2wpkh-p2sh:YOURPRIVATEKEY
  • If "bc1", p2wpkh:YOURPRIVATEKEY
  • If it starts with "1", verify your Electrum's signature and the source/download url

But no coin has shown up in the Electrum wallet after an hour.
Sometimes, if you have a very slow connection, the required Block_headers file will take too much time to download.
Just check the address in any blockexplorer if it has a balance.

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February 15, 2019, 07:36:02 PM
 #6

WIF keys are the only ones you should use. The uncompressed (begins with 5) and compressed private keys (K or L) correspond to different addresses. Look them up on a block explorer to find out if any coins were sent there and then import the corresponding priv key.

WIF keys have a checksum in them that detects typos. The reason you couldn't import the uncompressed priv key is because you made a mistake copying it or copied extraneous characters. That's why the next button was greyed out.
much agree with Abdussamad's explanation and advise
since using compressed private key doesn't seem to import the correct address,
OP should definitely retry importing the uncompressed private key
if it still doesn't import the correct address, then try nc50lc suggestion
@OP you do know your actual bitcoin address, right?

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