Trying to finalize importing BTC from a BIP38 Paper Wallet into Electrum wallet

About an hour ago I opened Electum 3.3.4, created a new wallet, set a password, saved a copy of the new wallet to a USB stick.

Then I clicked Electum's menu options for WALLET, PRIVATE KEYS, IMPORT, and pasted the decrypted private key for the BIP38 Paper Wallet into the box that opened, and clicked NEXT.

Nothing has happened: The blockexplorer shows the BTC balance is still in the Paper Wallet and not in the Electrum wallet. I closed and restarted Electrum, but same.

When I decrypted the BIP38 Paper Wallet to obtain its private key I used bitaddress.org offline, which provided me with a table containing a number of options re the decryted private key.

The specific key I chose, copied and pasted into Electrum was the one under the heading "WIF compressed format 52 character base 58 starting with 'K' or 'L' "

Would that be what needs to be corrected?

A second thing is that I see, when I click the Electrum server big green button (no idea what its called ha) that the Overview shows "Status" as connected to 10 nodes. Server is noveltybobble.coinjoined.com and Blockchain is 565750. When I initially checked this on importing the BIP38 Paper Wallet it was set to automatic not a specific server

I have read that Electrum servers can be an issue to processing transactions, and am thinking maybe that could be a problem here?

Any suggestions or help would be appreciated



The blockexplorer shows the BTC balance is still in the Paper Wallet and not in the Electrum wallet.

Here's my understanding of the relationship between wallets, keys, addresses, balances and explorers:

A blockchain-explorer generally shows total unspent amounts ("balance") associated with a bitcoin-address. Blockchain-explorers do not normally have any reliable notion of wallets.

Two or more wallets can contain the same bitcoin-address and therefore both wallets can be said to "contain" the same money (BTC).

Therefore if both wallets contain the same bitcoin-address, a blockchain-explorer won't be able to tell you that an amount is in one wallet but not in another.

A wallet can contain many bitcoin-addresses. A wallet that shows a "balance" is likely to be showing you the total of the spendable amounts or unspent amounts associated with all the bitcoin-addresses it knows of.

If your new Eelectrum wallet is not showing the same balance as a blockchain-explorer shows for a bitcoin-address, it suggests the wallet does not contain that bitcoin-address (or contains more than one bitcoin-address with unspent amounts, or is not fully synchronised)

A beginners guide to the Electrum wallet says

the Addresses tab ... will be hidden by default. To reveal it, select Show Addresses item from the View menu.

Perhaps this can be used to verify that your wallet contains the same bitcoin-address that you are examining using a blockchain-explorer.

You can also check the synchronisation status:

When the block count under “Blockchain” equals the height indicated for the servers you’re connecting to, Electrum will be fully synchronized

  • Hi. I'm still floundering about :( The Electrum wallet only shows one address when I click ADDRESSES, and it is not the address on the BIP38 paper wallet. However, when I use bitaddress.org to de-encrypt the paper wallet, it comes up with a table of various private keys and QR codes. And the address that appears on Electrum appears on that de-encrypted table (Sorry I pressed Enter instead of Shift-Enter while replying so had to go into Edit mode) – rifel Mar 5 at 16:34
  • To correct my original post - I see the BIP Paper wallet's private key starts with 6P (not a "K" or "L"). So I followed bitaddress.org BIP38 de-encryption process again & looked on its table of de-encrypted private keys for priv. keys starting with 6P and I found 3 alt. de-encrypted private keys 1 Hexadecimal Format (64 char...), 2 Base64, and 3 BIP38 Format (58 characters base 58 starts with "6P" and I chose this last one to choose . HOWEVER that de-encrypted private key on bitaddress.org table is exactly the same as the one on the actual private wallet?? – rifel Mar 5 at 16:53

What type of wallet did you create with electrum? Deterministic wallets i.e. the sort that come with a seed don't let you import private keys. You can only sweep private keys to a deterministic wallet. You can find out what wallet type you created via wallet menu > information. The wallet type, script type, seed available and keystore type options will tell us what we need to know.

The other thing is if you did import the private key (in a compatible electrum wallet type) then the coins would not have moved. The difference between importing and sweeping is that with importing the private key is added to the wallet and continues to control the coins while with sweeping the coins are sent to an address in the wallet in an on-chain transaction. When you sweep the paper wallet private key no longer controls the coins instead the electrum wallet, and it's private keys, do. So it seems like you want to sweep the private key but I strongly suggest you confirm that you downloaded a legit copy of electrum and that you have the seed/private keys of the wallet you created.

BTW deterministic electrum wallets come with 26 addresses by default and more are created as you start using addresses so the fact that you have just one address is also fishy.

  • The Electrum wallet kind I chose was the 4th in the list.. the one to import/sweep. Electrum menu WALLET | INFORMATION says - Wallet type - imported - Script type - address - Seed available - false - keystore type - imported When I click ADDRESSES it only provides 1 address, starting with 1, which is not the same as the BIP38 Paper wallet address. But both the BIP38 Paper wallet address AND Electrum address appear on bitaddress.org's table of de-crypted private addresses when I go thru the process of de-crypting de-crypting the private key printed on the BIP38 Paper wallet – rifel Mar 5 at 20:08
  • I specifically wanted to import not sweep BTC in the BIP38 Paper wallet into Electrum as I'm just moving it on to an exchange & didn't want to incur double fees. But if there is a way out of this rabbithole by sweeping instead, I'm happy to do that. I took lots of care ensuring I downloaded Electrum from a legit site. It was electrum.org/#home. I think there's only one address because I created an Electrum wallet to import, not sweep the BTC into. Does that explain why it wouldn't be fishy to only have one address? Thanks xx (PS I'm new here, where do I find format help? – rifel Mar 5 at 20:09
  • Ok I understand what's going on now. On bitaddress when you decrypt the private key it'll give you two addresses and two separate WIF private keys corresponding to each of those addresses. You just need to import the WIF private key corresponding to the address you originally sent bitcoins to. To import just create a a new wallet again in electrum via file > new/restore, enter a unique filename and click next. If you want to sweep then create a standard wallet first and sweep into that via tools > private key > sweep. – Abdussamad Mar 6 at 17:27

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