Handshake: Version (“version”)

Handshake: Version (“version”)

The version message is a part of the node connection handshake and indicates various connection settings, networking information, and the services provided by the sending node (see Services Bitfield below).

The node connection is not considered established until both nodes have sent and received both a version and verack message.

Message Format

Field Length Format Description
version number 4 bytes unsigned integer(LE) The version number supported by the sending node.
services 8 bytes bitfield(LE) An indication of the services supported by the sending node. See Services Bitfield section below.
timestamp 8 bytes unix timestamp(LE) The time the message was generated on the sending node.
remote address 26 bytes network address The network address of the remote node.

NOTE: this does not contain the timestamp normally included with network addresses.

local address 26 bytes network address The network address of the sending node.

NOTE: this does not contain the timestamp normally included with network addresses.

nonce 8 bytes bytes(LE) Random nonce for the connection, used to detect connections to self.
user agent variable variable length string A user agent string identifying the node implementation.
block height 4 bytes unsigned integer(LE) The height of the block with the highest height known to the sending node.
relay flag 1 byte boolean Indicates whether the sending node would like all broadcasted transactions relayed to it. See BIP-37. This flag is sometimes referred to as “fRelay”.

Note: Protocol version 70001 introduced the optional relay flag.
Transmitting the relay flag byte to Nodes with a version less than 70001 may result in incompatibility with versions that validate the Version message for a specific byte count.

Note: Historically, transmitting extra data after the relay flag would result in the connection being banned by some Nodes.
Modern Nodes ignore extra data after the relay flag.

Version Number

The most recent version of the network protocol is 70015.
The version value often correlates to new behavior, parsing formats, and available services; for more details review the network protocol’s version history.
Nodes should use version and the services bitfield to determine if the node should accept the incoming connection.

Related: node connection handshake.

Services Bitfield

The services field is an 8 byte little-endian-serialized bitfield that described peer capabilities. The benefit of this bitfield is that during the handshake a node learns about the services his peer offers. Nodes may selectively disconnect from nodes that do not supported “desired services”.

When a service is advertised, a separate handshake may follow with service-specific messages to learn details about the support a peer has for that specific service.

The following capabilities are defined, by bit position:

Standard Services

    The node is capable of serving the complete block chain.
    It is currently set by all full nodes, and is unset by SPV clients or other peers that just want network services but don’t provide them.

    The node is capable and willing to handle bloom-filtered connections.

    Indicates that a node can be asked for blocks and transactions including witness data.
    Bitcoin Cash nodes do not have witness data so this flag should be ignored on receipt and set to 0 when sent

    The node supports the BCH chain.
    This is intended to be just a temporary service bit until the BTC/BCH fork actually happens.

    This means the same as NODE_NETWORK with the limitation of only serving a small subset of the blockchain.
    See BIP159 for details on how this is implemented.

  • 24-31: Reserved for experimental changes
    These bits are reserved for temporary experiments.
    Just pick a bit that isn’t getting used, or one not being used much, and notify the community.
    Remember that service bits are just unauthenticated advertisements, so implementations must be robust against collisions and other cases where nodes may be advertising a service they do not actually support.

Example Serialized Data

Net Magic(BE)

Command String (“version”)(BE)

Payload Byte Count(LE)

Payload Checksum(LE)

Version Number

Node Features

Timestamp (“1576101548”)

Remote Address (“”)

Local Address (“”)


User Agent ("/Bitcoin Node:1.2.3/")

Current Block Height (“612918L”)

Relay Transactions Flag (“true”)

Node Specific Messages

Bitcoin Unlimited

    The node supports Xtreme Thinblocks

    The node supports Graphene blocks.
    If this is turned off then the node will not service graphene requests nor make graphene requests.

    The node supports Storm weak block (currently no node supports these in production, so this is a placeholder).

Bitcoin Verde

    Indicates that the node is an indexing node and supports returning information custom to the requesting user’s addresses.

    Indicates that the node tracks Simple Ledger Protocol validity and supports returning this status for individual transactions.

Other Proposed/Previously Used Service Flags

    The node is capable of responding to the getutxo protocol request.
    See BIP 64 for details on how this is implemented.
    Was previously supported by Bitcoin XT only.

  • 8: NODE_CF
    Indicates the node is capable of serving compact block filters to SPV clients, AKA the “Neutrino” protocol (BIP157, and BIP158).