Nano Guide: Restore Nano from a Ledger Recovery Phrase

Json (Joohansson)
Nano Education
Published in
8 min readMay 23, 2019

This guide will take you through the steps required to recover Nano that you can no longer access in your Ledger Nano hardware wallet. It’s intended to be used only as a very last resort if no other options are available and getting a new device for recovery is out of scope.

As you might have heard, you can always recover your Nano in any compatible wallet as long as you have your seed. The seed is normally used to derive private keys, which allows you to manage your Nano in another wallet.

However, a hardware wallet keeps the private keys secured inside the device to maximize security. It also does not provide you with a seed. If you lose your device, you can use the recovery phrase (mnemonic) in another one to recover all the private keys.

But what if you don’t have another device? Rather than buying a new one, you can derive/extract the private keys and transfer the funds, and that is what this guide is all about. It’s just a little bit more complicated, and security must be taken into consideration. If you expose the recovery phrase anywhere, you should never use it again. After this process, you will need to generate a new recovery phrase or never use your Ledger again.

The main reason to use a hardware wallet is to never expose the private keys in any other electronic device.

Different options will be presented below with varying difficulty level. They will be improved/edited over time as new wallets/tools are being developed.

1. Easy — Import recovery phrase in Magnum wallet

Magnum wallet can import any amount of wallets for your ledger recovery phrase, ie. at any Nano Account Index.

  1. Go to Magnum web wallet. If you already have a Magnum wallet, enter your password and continue at 7.

2. Select “Import Mnemonic Phrase”. Enter your Ledger recovery phrase.

3. Select a secure password and then select “Add Wallet”

4. Type in Nano

5. You should now see your funds if you used the main account at Index 0. If you had several accounts in your Ledger you can just keep adding more Nano wallets. They will start from Index 0 and increment. If you need to import a Nano wallet from a custom Index, continue at 7.

6. Hit “Add Wallet” but instead of adding from the main Magnum mnemonic as above, choose “Import mnemonic phrase”. Paste your Ledger mnemonic and hit “Advanced”. There you can change the last digit of 44'/165'/0', in this case, from 0 to 6. That corresponds to Nano account at Index 6. Your main account is most likely at Index 0.

7. There is also a possibility to export the private key. Press the three dots and “Export Key”. There you can also see which Index, the account corresponds to by looking at the last digit of 44'/165'/x'.

8. It’s not recommended to keep using the same mnemonic as the Ledger had. Transfer your funds to a safe account and never use that mnemonic again.

2. Easy — Import recovery phrase in Trust wallet

You will import the Ledger recovery phrase directly into a multi-coin mobile wallet called Trust. Make sure you have the 24-word recovery phrase ready. Minimum steps required but with one limitation: Trust will only import the first account (seed account index 0). If you have multiple Nano accounts on the Ledger, you will only be able to recover the first one with this method. A request was sent to the developers but sadly denied.

Recovery steps referring to images below:

  1. If you already have the Trust app, go to Settings. Otherwise, continue at 3.
  2. Hit the + sign at the top
  3. Choose “I already have a wallet”
  4. Select “Multi-Coin Wallet”
  5. Type in the words that you should have on a paper. As a security precaution, do not send them to the phone via email.
  6. Import button.
  7. The wallet should now find the first Nano account and the balance should update accordingly. You can switch base wallet from the Settings.
  8. If you successfully recover the funds, it’s most likely best to send them elsewhere. Then discard the imported wallet and never used the recovery phrase again. Not in this wallet and not on any Ledger.

3. Medium — Extract keys and import to Natrium

You will extract the keys in an offline computer and automatically transfer any funds to your existing Natrium mobile wallet. For maximum security, make sure to use a safe OS environment (computer free from malware).

  1. Go to KeyTools key converter tool, or even better download it and run index.html

2. Unplug from the internet for increased security.

3. Type in your 24-word ledger mnemonic, select the Ledger option and alter the Index number if you have several accounts in the Ledger.

Example of mnemonic import to extract private key and address for Index 0

4. Optionally check each Nano account, in a block explorer (in an online computer), if it has the expected balance. Do not connect to the internet. You can click on the QR icon to transfer the addresses to the online machine.

5. Click on the QR icon for the Private Key. This way, you don’t expose the key in an email or USB drive.

QR transfer of Private Key

6a. Option1: Open your Natrium mobile wallet (set up with a new wallet if not already done so). Go to settings and “Load from paper wallet.” Scan the private key QR from the previous step. This will automatically sweep any funds left in the account, even if it has pending transactions! Funds will be transferred to your current wallet. Repeat for any account (private key) you had in the Ledger wallet. Do not use the Ledger seed from step 3, it will not work.

Sweep private key from any funds

6b. Option 2: Since Aug 2019 it’s possible to import the private keys in Nanovault. You can transfer the private keys to the online machine using the QR video reader with a webcam/phone or use the Offline Audio Messenger. Choose “Nano account private key” in nanovault, not “Nano seed”.

Private key imported as a single account in Nanovault

10. Never use the same private keys or recovery phrase again!

4. Advanced — Extract keys and use offline signing

With this method, you will extract the keys in an offline computer the same way as the other method, but you will also sign any transaction offline to make sure private keys are minimally exposed. This is recommended if you have a larger balance in the Ledger and don’t want to sweep the full amount into a mobile phone or web wallet. This is a very secure way of transfer using Nano (and other cryptocurrencies).

  1. Go to KeyTools key converter tool, or even better download it and run index.html

2. Unplug from the internet for increased security.

3. Type in your 24-word ledger mnemonic, select the Ledger option and alter the Index number if you have several accounts in the Ledger. You can store the private key(s) on the machine or using the memo field at the bottom of the page. They will be used later when signing block hashes.

Example of mnemonic import to extract private key and address for Index 0

4. Transfer the address(es) to an online machine using the QR code button and QR video reader. The Offline Audio Messenger can also be used for the transfer between devices in case you don’t have a webcam or phone. Do not connect to the Internet while you have private keys unsecured! The online machine (pc, tablet, phone) will be used to look up info the Nano network and later publish the block(s).

QR displayed on the offline device
QR read on the online device

5. Now refer to this off-chain signing guide and corresponding videos for how to send the funds from the Ledger account(s) to another secure account you own. You will use the account address on the online machine to retrieve information, sign the block hash on the offline machine using the private keys you saved and then publish the block(s) on the online machine. If you have pending blocks on the Ledger, they will have to be dealt with first by creating Receive blocks according to the same guide.

The workflow for offline / off-chain signing

No sensitive data will leave your offline device as long as you follow those steps. That’s the beauty with offline signing!

6. Never use the same private keys or recovery phrase again.

Final Words

For more information on how to use the Ledger hardware wallet with Nano please check here.

The offline-signing method can be used with any Nano seed. A private key can be generated or extracted from an existing seed or mnemonic offline using the Key Converter.

This article is meant as a help document but I cannot guarantee it will always be 100% correct, as it depends on other tools; thus, I cannot be held accountable for any lost funds. You are responsible for your own keys and the blocks you sign. I recommend trying the method first with a smaller amount on a test Ledger (if possible).

Node documentation can be found here.


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