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Import your validator keys


systemd service file users will want to follow the service file guide instead!

Having followed the deposit guide, you will have a validator_keys folder containing several .json files in the nimbus-eth2 directory.

We'll import the signing key of each validator to the data directory using the deposits import command:

You'll be asked to enter the password you used when creating your keystore(s).

build/nimbus_beacon_node deposits import --data-dir=build/data/shared_mainnet_0
build/nimbus_beacon_node deposits import --data-dir=build/data/shared_prater_0

On success, a message will be printed that your keys have been imported:

NOT 2022-07-19 17:36:37.578+02:00 Keystore imported

NOT is short for NOTICE and not not :)

After importing keys, it's time to restart the node and check that the keys have been picked up by the beacon node.

All the keys

You can read more about the different types of keys here — the deposits import command will import the signing key only.

Command line

If your validator_keys folder is stored elsewhere, you can pass its location to the import command:

build/nimbus_beacon_node deposits import \
  --data-dir=build/data/shared_mainnet_0 \
build/nimbus_beacon_node deposits import \
  --data-dir=build/data/shared_prater_0 \

Replacing /path/to/keys with the full pathname of where the validator_keys directory is found.

Optimized import for a large number of validators

If you plan to use a large number of validators (e.g. more than 100) on a single beacon node or a validator client, you might benefit from running the deposits import command with the option --method=single-salt. This will force Nimbus to use the same password and random salt value when encrypting all of the imported keystores which will later enable it to load the large number of validator keys almost instantly. The theoretical downside of using this approach is that it makes the brute-force cracking of all imported keystores computationally equivalent to cracking just one of them. Nevertheless, the security parameters used by Ethereum are such that cracking even a single keystore is considered computationally infeasible with current hardware.


If you come across an error, make sure that:

  • You are using the correct data directory.
    • For systemd users, look for the --data-dir option in the .service file.
  • You are running the command as the correct user.
    • For systemd users, look for the User= option in the .service. Assuming the user is called nimbus, prefix all commands with: sudo -u nimbus.
  • Permissions for the data directory are wrong.