What is a Bitcoin address?

Bitcoin address is a virtual location where Bitcoins can be stored.
Address illustration

A Bitcoin address consists of 26-35 alphanumeric characters. For example, 1NTMjrMoT15yd4GsNuJ3NDPPgAgQaVafjX. To receive Bitcoins, you need to create an address using any Bitcoin wallet and give it to the sender.

Different types of Bitcoin addresses

There are 3 types of addresses and all of them can be used:

  • 1FgwtBz9UjVX3USqxq6FuBtjpgiibfmBok old
    Old format with the highest fees. It always starts with a 1. Also known as legacy bitcoin address. Not recommended for use due to the higher fees.
  • 3M45T3jSvsJEPAQLDYMkSHcwtUTa65gFJm new
    Newer format with ~30% lower fees than the older type of addresses. It always starts with 3 and it is mentioned also as Segwit address. Segwit reduces the transaction’s data size and thus, the transaction fees.
  • bc1qlss4safn4jaapkr3v4lfzvfcyhzp94yzg6pucr newest
    Newest address format with the lowest fees. Always starts with bc1 and is referred as native Segwit. Some exchanges still doesn’t support this address format.

How to create a Bitcoin address?

To make one you first need to get a Bitcoin wallet. The wallet allows you to send, receive, create and store your Bitcoins. Here is a list of the different wallet types:

How addresses are created?

The Bitcoin address is created by a Bitcoin wallet. To create the address the wallet randomly generates a string of 26-35 numbers and letters. One wallet can make multiple addresses.

There is no need to be connected to the internet when creating an address. Creating a new address doesn’t require you to sign-in or register to the Bitcoin network. The internet connection is required only when sending Bitcoins.

How to view information about a Bitcoin address?

You can view the balance of any Bitcoin address online using block explorers sites. The Bitcoin network is transparent and all of its transactions can be viewed online using these block explorers. For instance, BitRef.com. Enter the site and paste your address.

Example of BitRef.com blockchain explorer where you can view your Bitcoin balance and its latest transactions.

Safety considerations

Always double check if the address you share is full and valid! If one character is missing or wrong the sender will send it to someone else address and the Bitcoins will be lost. Check the first and the last 3 letters of the address are the same when sending Bitcoins.

Remember, if you send your Bitcoins to the wrong address there is no customer support to help you.

You can freely share your address as the worst thing that can happen is someone could send you Bitcoins.

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