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Version: 1.3

IOTA DID Method Specification v1.0



The IOTA DID Method Specification describes a method of implementing the Decentralized Identifiers (DID) standard on IOTA, a Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). It conforms to the DID specification v1.0 and describes how to perform Create, Read, Update and Delete (CRUD) operations for IOTA DID Documents using unspent transaction outputs (UTXO) on the IOTA and Shimmer networks, introduced with the Stardust upgrade.

Data Types & Subschema Notation

Data types and subschemas used throughout this TIP are defined in TIP-21.


UTXO Ledger

The unspent transaction output (UTXO) model defines a ledger state which is comprised of unspent outputs. Outputs are created by a transaction consuming outputs of previous transactions as inputs. The Stardust version of the protocol defines several output types, the relevant ones for the IOTA DID Method are: Basic Outputs for value transactionsValue transactions either withdraw tokens from an address or deposit them to an address. Nodes verify these transactions to ensure that the sender owns the Shimmer tokens and that additional tokens are not generated. To do this, the following checks are performed: All Shimmer tokens withdrawn from an address are also deposited into one or more other addresses; the value of each transaction does not exceed the total global supply; signatures are valid., and Alias Outputs for storage of DID Documents.

All outputs must hold a minimum amount of tokens to be stored on the ledger. For output types that can hold arbitrary data, for instance the Alias Output, the amount of tokens held by the output must cover the byte cost of the data stored. This prevents the ledger size from growing uncontrollably while guaranteeing that the data is not pruned from the nodes, which is important for resolving DID Documents. This deposit is fully refundable and can be reclaimed when the output is destroyed.

Data stored in an output and covered by the storage deposit will be stored in all nodes on the network and can be retrieved from any node. This provides strong guarantees for any data stored in the ledger.

Alias Output

The Alias Output is a specific implementation of the UTXO state machine. Some of its relevant properties are:

  • Amount: the amount of IOTA coins held by the output.
  • Alias ID: 32 byte array, a unique identifier of the alias, which is the BLAKE2b-256 hash of the Output ID that created it.
  • State Index: A counter that must increase by 1 every time the alias is state transitioned.
  • State Metadata: Dynamically sized array of arbitrary bytes with a length up to Max Metadata Length, as defined in TIP-22. Can only be changed by the state controller.
  • Unlock Conditions:
    • State Controller Address Unlock Condition
    • Governor Address Unlock Condition

Consuming an Alias Output in a transaction may transition it into the next state. The current state is defined as the consumed Alias Output, while the next state is defined as the Alias Output with the same explicit Alias ID on the output side. There are two types of transitions: state transition and governance transition.

All outputs include an Unlock Conditions property. This feature defines how the output can be unlocked and spent. The Alias Output supports two types of unlock conditions that can be set: the state controller and governor. Each of these can be either an Ed25519 Address, Alias Address or an NFT Address. An Alias Output can have at most one of each unlock condition.

The state controller can unlock a state transition. It is identified by an incremented State Index and can change the fields Amount, State Index, State Metadata among other properties.

The governor, on the other hand, can unlock a governance transition indicated by an unchanged State Index. A governance transition can change the addresses of the state controller and governor. It also allows destroying the Alias Output.

Ledger and DID

Storing DID Documents in the ledger state means they inherently benefit from the guarantees the ledger provides.

  1. Conflicts among nodes are resolved and dealt with by the ledger.
  2. Replay attacks are mitigated since transactions need to be confirmed by the ledger.
  3. Through the State Index a linear history for updates of a DID Document is provided.

DID Method Name

The method-name to identify this DID method is: iota.

A DID that uses this method MUST begin with the following prefix: did:iota. Following the generic DID specification, this string MUST be lowercase.

DID Format

The DIDs that follow this method have the following ABNF syntax. It uses the syntax in RFC5234 and the corresponding definition for digit.

iota-did = "did:iota:" iota-specific-idstring
iota-specific-idstring = [ iota-network ":" ] iota-tag
iota-network = 1*6network-char
iota-tag = "0x" 64lowercase-hex
lowercase-hex = digit / "a" / "b" / "c" / "d" / "e" / "f"
network-char = %x61-7A / digit ; corresponds to the character range from "a" to "z" and "0" to "9".

It starts with the string "did:iota:", followed by an optional network name (1 to 6 lowercase alpha characters) and a colon, then the tag. The tag starts with "0x" followed by a hex-encoded Alias ID with lower case a-f.


The iota-network is an identifier of the network where the DID is stored. This network must be an IOTA Ledger, but can either be a public or private network, permissionless or permissioned.

The following values are reserved and cannot reference other networks:

  1. iota references the main network which refers to the ledger known to host the IOTA cryptocurrency.
  2. atoi references the development network of IOTA.
  3. smr references the shimmer network.
  4. rms references the development network of Shimmer.

When no IOTA network is specified, it is assumed that the DID is located on the iota network. This means that the following DIDs will resolve to the same DID Document:



An IOTA-tag is a hex-encoded Alias ID. The Alias ID itself is a unique identifier of the alias, which is the BLAKE2b-256 hash of the Output ID that created it. This tag identifies the Alias Output where the DID Document is stored, and it will not be known before the generation of the DID since it will be assigned when the Alias Output is created.

Anatomy of the State Metadata

In the State Metadata of the Alias Output must be a byte packed payload with header fields as follows:

Document TypeByteArray[3]Set to value DID to denote a DID Document.
Versionuint8Set value 1 to denote the version number of this method
Encodinguint8Set to value to 0 to denote JSON encoding without compression.
Payload(uint16)ByteArrayA DID Document and its metadata, where every occurrence of the DID in the document is replaced by did:0:0. It must be encoded according to Encoding.

The types are defined in TIP-21.


The payload must contain the following fields:

  • meta: contains metadata about the DID Document. For example, created to indicate the time of creation, and updated to indicate the time of the last update to the document. It may also include other properties.
  • doc: contains the DID Document. In the example below, the document only contains one verification method. The id and controller is specified by did:0:0 which references the DID of the document itself, since the DID is unknown at the time of publishing. It also deduplicates the DID of the document to reduce the size of the state metadata, in turn reducing the required storage deposit.

Example State Metadata Document:

"doc": {
"id": "did:0:0",
"verificationMethod": [
"id": "did:0:0#jkGOGVO3Te7ADpvlplr47eP9ucLt41zm",
"controller": "did:0:0",
"type": "JsonWebKey",
"publicKeyJwk": {
"kty": "OKP",
"alg": "EdDSA",
"kid": "jkGOGVO3Te7ADpvlplr47eP9ucLt41zm",
"crv": "Ed25519",
"x": "D5w8vG6tKEnpBAia5J4vNgLID8k0BspHz-cVMBCC3RQ"
"authentication": ["did:0:0#jkGOGVO3Te7ADpvlplr47eP9ucLt41zm"]
"meta": {
"created": "2023-08-28T14:49:37Z",
"updated": "2023-08-28T14:50:27Z"


A state controller can directly update the DID Document and the amount of tokens held by the Alias Output, but it cannot destroy the output. A governor, on the other hand, can indirectly update the DID Document by updating the state controller. The governor can also destroy the output by performing a governance transition without producing an Alias Output with the same Alias ID.

As of now, only one state controller and one governor can be set for an Alias Output. Support for multiple controllers may be possible depending on future updates of the protocol.

CRUD Operations

Create, Read, Update and Delete (CRUD) operations that change the DID Documents are done through state or governance transitions of the Alias Output.

These operations require fund transfer to cover byte cost. Transactions must be carefully done in order to avoid fund loss. For example, the amount of funds in the inputs should equal these in the outputs. Additionally, private keys of controllers must be stored securely.


In order to create a simple self controlled DID two things are required:

  1. An Ed25519 Address for which the private key is available, or control over an Alias or NFT Output.
  2. A Basic, Alias or NFT Output with enough coins to cover the byte cost.

Creation steps:

  1. Create the content of the DID Document like verification methods, services, etc.
  2. Create the payload and the headers as described in the Anatomy of the State Metadata.
  3. Create a new Alias Output with the payload and the headers stored in its State Metadata.
  4. Set the state controller and the governor unlock conditions to the addresses that should control state and governance transitions, respectively.
  5. Set enough tokens in the output to cover the byte cost.
  6. Publish a new transaction with an existing output that contains at least the storage deposit from step 6 as input, and the newly created Alias Output as output.

Once the transaction is confirmed, the DID is published and can be formatted by using the Alias ID as the tag in DID Format.


The following steps can be used to read the latest DID Document associated with a DID.

  1. Obtain the Alias ID from the DID by extracting the iota-tag from the DID, see DID Format.
  2. Obtain the network of the DID by extracting the iota-network from the DID, see DID Format.
  3. Query the Alias Output corresponding to the Alias ID using a node running the inx indexer. Nodes usually include this indexer by default.
  4. Assert that the extracted network matches the one returned from the node. Return an error otherwise.
  5. Assert that the Alias ID of the returned output matches the Alias ID extracted from the DID. Return an error otherwise.
  6. Retrieve the value of the State Metadata field from the returned output.
  7. Validate the contents match the structure described in Anatomy of the State Metadata. Return an error otherwise.
  8. Decode the DID Document from the State Metadata.
  9. Replace the placeholder did:0:0 with the DID given as input.


Updating a DID Document can be achieved by the state controller performing a state transition of the Alias Output with the updated content:

  1. Create a copy of the Alias Output with the Alias ID set explicitly.
  2. Pack the updated DID Document, as described in the Anatomy of the State Metadata, into the State Metadata of the output.
  3. Increment the State Index.
  4. Set the amount of coins sufficient to cover the byte cost.
  5. Publish a new transaction that includes the current Alias Output as input (along with any required Basic Outputs to consume to cover the amount, if increased) and the updated one as output. If the state controller unlock of the Alias Output references other Alias or NFT Outputs, those outputs must be unlocked in the same transaction, recursively.



Temporarily deactivating a DID can be done by deleting the contents of the State Meadata in the Alias Output, setting it to an empty byte array, and publishing an update.

Another option is to update the DID Document and set the deactivated property in its metadata to true. In both cases, the deactivated DID Document will be marked as deactivated when resolved.


In order to permanently destroy a DID, a new transaction can be published by the governor that consumes the Alias Output without having a corresponding Alias Output on the output side with the same explicit Alias ID. This results in destroying the Alias Output and the DID.

Note that this operation irreversibly and irrecoverably deletes the DID. This is because the Alias ID from which an IOTA DID is derived (see IOTA-Tag) is generated from the hash of the input transaction that created it, which cannot generally be replicated.

IOTA Identity standards

The did:iota method is implemented in the IOTA Identity framework. This framework supports a number of operations that are standardized, some are standardized across the SSI community, and some are the invention of the IOTA Foundation.


Revocation of verifiable credentials and signatures can be achieved using the Revocation Bitmap 2022 where issuers store a bitmap of indices in the DID Document. These indices correspond to verifiable credentials they have issued. If the binary value of the index in the bitmap is 1 (one), the verifiable credential is revoked, if it is 0 (zero) it is not revoked.

Standardized Services

The IOTA Identity framework also standardized certain services that are embedded in the DID Document. It is RECOMMENDED to implement these when implementing the did:iota method.

Currently standardized services:

Security Considerations

The did:iota method is implemented on the IOTA, a public permissionless and feeless Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), making it resistant against almost all censorship attack vectors. Up until the Coordicide update for the IOTA network, a dependency on the coordinator exists for resolving ordering conflicts. This has a minor censorship possibility, that, in the worst case, can prevent transactions from getting confirmed.

Private Key Management

All private keys or seeds used for the did:iota method should be equally well protected by the users. Private keys of the state controller and the governor are especially important as they control how keys are added or removed, providing full control over the identity. The IOTA Identity framework utilizes the Stronghold project, a secure software implementation isolating digital secrets from exposure to hacks or leaks. Developers may choose to add other ways to manage the private keys in a different manner.

Privacy Considerations

Personal Identifiable Information

The public IOTA and Shimmer networks are immutable. This means that once something is included, it can never be completely removed. For example, destroying an Alias Output will remove it from the ledger state, but it can still be stored in permanodes or by any party that records historical ledger states.

That directly conflicts with certain privacy laws such as GDPR, which have a 'right-to-be-forgotten' for Personal Identifiable Information (PII). As such, users should NEVER upload any PII, including inside DID Documents. While verifiable credentials can be made public, this should only be utilized by Identity for Organisations and Identity for Things.

Correlation Risks

As with any DID method, identities can be linked if they are used too often and their usage somehow becomes public. See DID Correlation Risks. Additionally, a DID can be correlated with funds if the Alias Output used to store the DID Document or any of its controllers is used for holding, transferring or controlling coins or NFTs.