Bitcoin addresses can be fairly complicated – sometimes even annoying for the average user. How do I identify bitcoin addresses, with a multitude of various address types and different Bitcoin forks, identifying how you should be sending your Bitcoin correctly can mean the difference between your coins reaching its intended recipient or, in the worst-case scenario, disappear into the darkness!

The Three Types Of Bitcoin Addresses

1. P2PKH or Legacy Format

Legacy format Bitcoin addresses are the original type of address used during the earlier years of Bitcoin. It’s also known as a P2PKH or Pay-to-Public-Key-Hash Address. Functionally, legacy format Bitcoin addresses are less convenient than the newer BTC address formats, as they have higher transaction fees, “bulkier” QR Codes and also check for case sensitivity (making it more complicated to record on a piece of paper or system). They also cannot interact with native Segwit (Bech32) addresses (as detailed later below)

A legacy address always starts with “1” and looks like the following examples:

1MrgPA5kpL5Xe9LvQvTzjKQFsPLqV1ekjy

14Lz6HhspXcRt5dLFR9YnbFurzFk2K8YYc

1MwMCjU1xULvZnhWFS4UqxNawKMjjjGyKS

2. P2SH Format, “Segwit” Addresses or Compatibility Address Format

P2SH, or “Pay-to-Script-Hash” Addresses, are the most widely supported format as they allow funds to be transacted to both P2PKH and bech32 addresses, as well as supporting more complex functionality such as multi-signature support. The transfer fees for Bitcoin sent using a P2SH address are lower than that of legacy addresses as well.

Most exchanges currently generate P2SH format addresses in order to provide maximum compatibility between legacy Bitcoin addresses and bech32 addresses. They can be identified by the “3” in front of the address and looks like the following examples:

324ZnMY86PxKmCVujzRms86iyEHwANFECm

3EuzoHp4mnZkwyNnTSYKkjsDYqyn79rHDL

3FgTDDhXqQjE7e7vm94EuCgHNqkRtEkD5j

3. Native SegWit Addresses or “Bech32” Format

SegWit stands for Segregated Witness and is a soft-fork of Bitcoin; a significant upgrade that addressed various issues of the Bitcoin network. Although its original aim was to address a potential exploit known as the “transaction malleability bug”, it was also designed to reduce processing and wait times and address the constant issue of Bitcoin scaling. It was activated on 24th August 2017 in a process known as a soft fork, which is backward-compatible with Bitcoin nodes running old software.

Functionally, Bech32 format addresses have the lowest transaction fees. The percentage of Segwit transactions has achieved roughly ~55% of the network, although majority of the wallets on the Bitcoin network are still not SegWit Bech32 addresses.

Most importantly, Bech32 addresses are NOT supported on all exchanges, nor are they compatible with legacy addresses. If you’re using a wallet that doesn’t support SegWit, you won’t be able to send Bitcoin to or from a native Bech32 address. Check with your exchange or wallet carefully before committing to a transaction made with or to a Bech32 address!

You can identify a Bech32 address by its first 3 characters, “bc1”. Here are some examples:

bc1qzn7xlaj0a5tmj6f3kjf3zaq8d9djdz5dz0s88f

bc1q7v72u8qp2vp4ram50v3gr52f67mh2fyhkn5d09

Bc1q3qus3t2sa5rkwg9x3h2q4gp3sutc982sx9qe6t

How Do I Identify Bitcoin Cash Addresses

In addition to the 3 address types shown above, hard forks of Bitcoin also exist which share addresses with Bitcoin! Due to conflict amongst the Bitcoin community about the implementation of Segwit, Bitcoin Cash, or BCH was created as a hard fork of Bitcoin that does not have SegWit implemented.

The hard forks of Bitcoin often look identical to the Legacy and Compatibility addresses, as hard forks essentially share the same wallet addresses up to the point of the hard fork. However, in order to help prevent mistakes when sending Bitcoin Cash due to the identical addresses in both networks, BCH-specific addresses or “cash address” format was created. BCH addresses start with the letter “q” or “p”.

Here are some BCH cash address examples:

qqn3dwykt8fzautvekaqp4w7qcnx02w6hcx9rza4xn

qphhrjnq9hz65n2fe4r6esjlvh640p0dvcs3nr7srg

qzpjnplydlg5x9xntq4ajqkvc93l7dns5ypwcyct24

Note, of course, that since BCH is a hard-fork of Bitcoin, addresses starting with 1 and 3 may also be BCH addresses.

Note that if you mistakenly send a Bitcoin from the Bitcoin network to a BCH address or vice versa, the transaction is irreversible and your coins will go to the equivalent address that may or may not be owned by your recipient. Even if its owned by the recipient, there is a significant difference in value between Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash – you will likely end up unable to get your coins back!

For other hard-forks of Bitcoin, you may refer to their respective documentation for any updated address types.

Addresses of other blockchain networks

Addresses of other blockchains such as Ethereum use their own address formatting, which may look similar or vary completely from Bitcoin. Here are some typical looking address examples of other blockchain networks:

Ethereum

0x8701d691716803d878868cb619Dc670Cd9bbBb23

0xbe71fa1E7bC0A4558f48354F006CF563E0bAbD3F

0x2A4D0e1EaA9C9CB60B774C531cfe94099d979f02

Litecoin

LiFfWg5twU5FZmMG8sh2DJdr5YKWbvLkUx

LV2t7SftCPvqzcRr9WuQBZKNJLVdFJJDeC

Ldyz9ebCFY2rjUNY8JEyxEziA3RRHrvWii

Monero

49VrSZAiMeYHihexwAWTnhCzayZaPxytLX3bTkUTaRdT3pRXrqXQ9PB5A28rnhwdBJHjPNDpEZMJJQHUVfPP88LZ6Enq72r

47qnXcPizU21T98YhyFrtEEGEaG51CUrhcL8GZRCk9Aq86XjjbuQsjGCRvEcWbDmki69m5FuWTVckV1DpeRQALhH1s9sj2p

43F3q1y2G2u6jj1QumCpLF3g9WBzjHkGNb1RNuusnQdWjUPu9vUuhoRQLbeJKQhP5x8etvKxcJ6L5YCM4jM8wo7XFzhay7q

Ripple

raKzG3zq5ojgBCeeqHNSoGrDEfBEYxPmwd

rNtP5CmvX8dM7QT3nY6wYeNVEg7bS9kXqc

rGAmZ2idxBRrzBRw7dZBL7LDhQgwKW778N

Stellar

GB6AEFBUY2TCESWHG6RAIWGSCCLG6NKYJU75OLHEYIAMTHPGUTNZ2TJM

GAQIQTHUX5LZ7UGQFZ7PPD3COQ375XQ63WOM652V4I3HF4DN4X7VLCDP

GAR7X7HBNXEAKWU6E6D2A66YUD4ZK6QU7MXI2EV5SVKUMJP6TGWJGYGR

Dash

XyDZDnXoBj9jvmWhAb1MMQEhStvmNUNe2B

Xd3Hh9WuahB51LDW4HFeNLAoUHa9HUMGPj

XgiVz8FCsgSQALG9xj7AHibMwpFGdnWgiT

Tron

TFHZRV4BEFdCHTpQiyAvFK5hT8KocTHBvz

TBwMrwcfjGqYbXfKZxSp7P3nqXDGmSxab3

TXAdy58y9GoM6TD3jtQjUox9aVmBvx1NY3

Binance

bnb1mrzd44jtw3sfhspn794dlvm932tte4makp2gtr

bnb1ad202s065atdxenderymnycl4sw3njkr84x3qu

bnb1z35wusfv8twfele77vddclka9z84ugywug48gn

(Please don’t send any cryptocurrency to any of these addresses as they are only for show!)

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