Existential Deposit

On the Polkadot network, an address is only active when it holds a minimum amount, currently set at 1 DOT (and 0.000333333 KSM on the Kusama network). This minimum amount is called the Existential Deposit (ED).

The ED exists so that accounts with very small balances, or completely empty, do not "bloat" the state of the blockchain in order to maintain high performance and to reduce fees. 

The amount of 1 DOT has come from experimental data that suggests this is the minimum amount required to accomplish that. Kusama, being a canary network that's meant to push things to their limits, has a significantly lower ED.

If an account drops below the ED, the account is reaped (“deactivated”) and any remaining funds are destroyed. The address can only be reused by reactivating it with a new deposit larger than the existential deposit. This will not restore the destroyed funds. 

What to pay attention to:

  • Accounts that have never received a deposit are not discoverable on block explorers.
  • If you send funds lower than the ED to an empty account, the transaction will fail (nominators need to pay attention to this when collecting staking rewards, see below).
  • If you are sending all (or almost all) of your funds out of an account, which will result in the remaining balance going under the ED, the account will be reaped and any remaining funds will be burned.
  • An account can be reactivated anytime, however, this will not bring back any previously burned funds.
  • To protect yourself from accidentally slipping below the ED amount and losing your funds, keep the option "transfer with account keep-alive checks" enabled when sending.
  • Exchanges have their own minimum deposit requirements for each deposit and they're usually slightly higher than the ED. Make sure to check on your exchange what these minimums are before sending any funds to it.
  • When contributing to crowdloans make sure that your balance doesn't drop below the ED or that you contribute your entire balance. Learn more here and here.

How to prevent your account from going below the ED 

In order to keep your account alive, make sure the “keep alive” option on Polkadot-JS UI is active when sending funds. This will not let you send a balance transfer that would reduce your account below the ED.

Please note: You can send your entire balance out anytime

The existential deposit is NOT unspendable. It just keeps your account alive. If you decide you want to deactivate this account, you can send your entire balance out anytime. You just need to disable the "keep-alive" check and enable the switch to transfer your entire balance. Please refer to this article for more details.

You can also reactivate your account anytime by depositing at least the existential deposit.

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR NOMINATORS (stakers): An account needs to be activated with the existential deposit before staking rewards can be sent to it. DO NOT direct staking rewards to an inactive account. If they are below 1 DOT, they will not arrive and you will lose them.

Video Tutorial 

For more detailed information, please watch this tutorial by our TechEd team.