I have been trying to import a public key into my bitcoin[1] node, but it keeps saying that it isn't valid.

The address '18uLJohita1yWTAcDpoLPpd2vNAtnsLW4E' publishes front-pages of the New York times into the BSV ledger and I want to add its public key to my bitcoin server so I can see new UTXOs. The key must be in HEX, per the command.

bitcoin-cli validateaddress 18uLJohita1yWTAcDpoLPpd2vNAtnsLW4E

{ "isvalid": true, "address": "18uLJohita1yWTAcDpoLPpd2vNAtnsLW4E", "scriptPubKey": "76a91456aea08d8feaefb18222fcef953366da2a7f200588ac", "ismine": false, "iswatchonly": false, "isscript": false }

bitcoin-cli importpubkey 76a91456aea08d8feaefb18222fcef953366da2a7f200588ac error code: -5 error message: Pubkey is not a valid public key

It accepts that I have sent hex, but it doesn't like it. This is clearly more than just the public key, I can see that from a vout:

"asm": "OP_DUP OP_HASH160 56aea08d8feaefb18222fcef953366da2a7f2005 OP_EQUALVERIFY # OP_CHECKSIG",

So maybe it wants me to remove the OP_DUP, OP_HASH160 and OP_EQUALVERIFY:

bitcoin-cli importpubkey 56aea08d8feaefb18222fcef953366da2a7f2005 Pubkey is not a valid public key

Hmm? Maybe it wants the checksum at the end...

echo 18uLJohita1yWTAcDpoLPpd2vNAtnsLW4E | base58 -d | xxd -p 0056aea08d8feaefb18222fcef953366da2a7f200559461147 bitcoin-cli importpubkey 0056aea08d8feaefb18222fcef953366da2a7f200559461147 error code: -5 error message: Pubkey is not a valid public key

I them write a bigendian reversal script and tried it, didn't help either.

I am official stumped.

Thanks in advance.

[1] I currently run bitcoin.sv and digibyte and have the same problem on both.

  • I was considering to close this question as off-topic because the user was asking about problems using altcoin software. However, since the question appears to have been based on a usage error that also applies to Bitcoin Core, I voted to reopen it.
    – Murch
    Mar 27, 2022 at 12:44

1 Answer 1


importpubkey imports a public key, not a scriptPubKey.

A public key in this context is a 66 character hexadecimal string starting with 02 or 03, or a 130 character hexadecimal string starting with 04. It encodes a secp256k1 public key. A scriptPubKey is any hexadecimal string, and encodes a locking script. These are distinct things; you can't use one in place of the other.

In this case, it appears you want to import an address. You can do so directly using importaddress.

  • 1
    and a scriptpubkey for P2PKH as in this Q includes the address (in binary or hex rather than base58check) but from the address (in any form) you can't backtrack to the pubkey Mar 27, 2022 at 5:48

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