Can you trace the physical location of a Bitcoin address?


The short answer is no.

The long answer is that; it depends on the crypto service that the BTC address uses.

A bitcoin address is often referred to as a wallet address, wallet public address or a deposit address. They all mean the same thing. It is generated by a cryptocurrency wallet or a crypto exchange.

In other words, if a crypto exchange generates the bitcoin address, there are commercial blockchain forensics & analytics tools that can tell you which exchange it came from. From there, within your means, you can contact the exchange for more information on the BTC address. In addition, cryptocurrency exchanges keep connection logs (IP addresses), activity logs (e.g. login date/time) and customers’ personal information as part of their KYC compliance. So you may have a chance to find out their identity and physical location in this way.

To fully understand why we cannot trace and track the physical location of a Bitcoin address, we need to know;

  • How the wallet or exchange generates it, and what is stored inside the long string of characters.
  • What does the Bitcoin blockchain contain, and if it has any location data

How a bitcoin address is generated

When a bitcoin address is generated, it is based on the public-key cryptography function. It is generated by the cryptocurrency wallet you are using or provided by the cryptocurrency exchange.

The result is having;

  • One Public key, i.e. your bitcoin address, that you can share with those who need to send you funds;
  • One Private key, i.e. your password to your wallet and full access to your funds. Do not share this with anyone, and keep it physically in a secure location.

A bitcoin address is a long string of alphanumeric characters that starts either 1, 3 or bc1. It is typically between 26 to o35 characters long. However, for bc1 addresses, it can go up to 90 characters long.

An example of a bitcoin address is bc1qhysgue0m9dks7rrnargkkygdqfxe978h9uzwnc. You will notice that it begins with bc1.

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What does the Bitcoin blockchain contain?

The bitcoin blockchain does not contain any data on location information.

When you perform a Bitcoin transaction, no matter if it is sending or receiving, the following details are captured into the blockchain;

  • Date and time of the transaction in UTC-0 timezone
  • Amount of bitcoin transacted
  • The miner fees involved in the transaction
  • The sender’s bitcoin address
  • The receiver’s bitcoin address
  • The transaction hash
  • The size of the transaction is typically in bytes.

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