CIP-94: NFT DID Method Specification Source

Author Joel Thorstensson
Status Draft
Category RFC
Created 2021-02-12

NFT DID Method Specification

The NFT DID Method converts any non-fungible token on any blockchain into a decentralized identifier where the owner of the NFT is the controller of the DID. This is achieved by using the Chain Agnostic Improvement Proposals to describe NFT assets and blockchain accounts, as well as the Ceramic network to find the DID associated with the owner of the NFT.

DID Method Name

The name string that shall identify this DID method is: nft.

A DID that uses this method MUST begin with the following prefix: did:nft. Per the DID specification, this string MUST be in lowercase. The remainder of the DID, after the prefix, is specified below.

Method Specific Identifier

The method specific identifier is simply a CAIP-19 Asset ID where all / characters are replaced by _, in order to comply with the DID spec.


In the example below we see a cryptokitty being used as a DID. Cryptokitties is an ERC721 token on Ethereum and we can refer to it using the ERC721 asset namespace as defined in CAIP-22.


CRUD Operation Definitions

In this section the CRUD operations for an NFT DID are defined.


Mint an NFT on any blockchain.


Extract the Asset ID from the method specific identifier. From it you can learn which asset on which blockchain to look up the owner of the NFT. Once you have the owner account convert it to a CAIP-10 Account ID by combining it with the Chain ID from the Asset ID. Using the Ceramic caip10-link doctype we can now look up the DID which this account points to.

Here’s and example of how to make this lookup using the javascript Ceramic api. This function will return either null or the DID related to the given account id.

async function getControllerDid(accountId: string) {
  const caip10Doc = await ceramic.createDocument('caip10-link', {
    metadata: {
      family: 'caip10-link',
      controllers: [accountId]
  return caip10Doc?.content

Once we have retrieved the DID from the caip10-link we simply construct the DID document as follows (here controller-did is the DID returned by the function above). We also populate the verificationMethod field using the Account ID.

  "@context": "",
  "id": "<did>",
  "controller": "<controller-did>",
  "verificationMethod": [{
      "id": "<did>#owner",
      "type": "BlockchainVerificationMethod2021",
      "controller": "<did>",
      "blockchainAccountId": "<accountId>"

If the caip10-link returned null we simply omit the controller property.

DID Document Metadata

When resolving the DID document DID Document Metadata should be provided. When resolving an NFT the following fields MAY be populated:

  • create - populate using the blockchain timestamp from the block when the NFT was created
  • updated - populate using the blockchain timestamp from the block of the most recent owner change

Note that the regular ERC721 api doesn’t provide any way to query this data. An implementer MAY use The Graph protocol to create subgraphs for NFTs that are supported. This should apply to other blockchains as well.

Resolving using the versionTime parameter

When the versionTime query parameter is given as a DID is resolved it means that we should try to resolve a specific version of the DID document. The resolution process requires the use of the ethereum blocks subgraph which allows looking up the block height from a timestamp. From it retrieve the owner of the NFT at the given block height. Once the owner is known the caip10-link can be looked up. Once this document is loaded go though the commits (use AnchorCommits) to find the state of the document at the time of the resolved version of the NFT DID, to retrieve the controller DID.

DID Document Metadata

The following metadata properties MAY be populated (if possible).

  • create - populate using the blockchain timestamp from the block when the NFT was created
  • updated - populate using the blockchain timestamp from the block when the given versions owner became owner
  • versionId - integer, should equal the number of owners until the looked up version starting at 0
  • nextUpdate - populate using the blockchain timestamp from the block when the next owner became owner


Transfer the NFT to another account.


Transfer the NFT to an account that no one controls, i.e. burn it.

Security Requirements

The NFT DID derives most of its security properties from the blockchain which the given NFT lives on and the Ceramic protocol. The security of different blockchains may vary so implementers may choose to limit their implementations to specific NFT assets. Ceramic most notably provides censorship resistance, decentralization, and requiring a minimal amount of data to be synced to completely verify the integrity of the caip10-links used to find the controller DID. For more details see the Ceramic specification.

Privacy Requirements

NFT DID utilizes a few components. First, blockchains provide a public, immutable audit trail of all previous owners of an NFT asset; these owners are blockchain accounts. Second, the caip10-link document on Ceramic similarly provides an audit trail for which DID a specified blockchain account has linked to over time. The combination of these two proofs allows NFT DID to permissionlessly create pubic mappings from an NFT DID -> blockchain account (owner) -> DID (owner). This allows the Ceramic protocol to enforce decentralized access control permissions that only allows the current owner of the NFT to make updates to content or resources owned by the NFT DID.

Since NFTs are tradable, resources controlled by an NFT DID should not be seen as having been granted to one individual. Instead, access granted to an NFT DID becomes more fluid and changes as on-chain ownership changes.

Another important aspect to consider is that by default if data is encrypted to an NFT DID, then the data will only really be encrypted to the public key of the controller-did. This means that when the NFT gets a new owner this new owner won’t get access to data that was previously encrypted to the NFT DID. Furthermore, the old owner will still be able to decrypt the data if they have access to it. There are, however, various ways that encrypted content can be implemented on top of this standard that could be just as portable as the NFT itself. Solving this issue falls out of scope for this standard, but there are likely various solutions depending on the use case; secure multi-party computation and proxy reencryption are two viable approaches.


The NFT DID Method could currently supports ERC721 tokens, but could be easily extended to support any other NFT token givent that the token is registered as a CAIP asset namespace.

NFTs usually encode some sort of metadata (e.g. image on ipfs). It’s possible that this can be added as an extension to the resolved DID document which would unify NFT metadata lookup across all chains. Further work needs to be done in order to properly standardize this.


  • nft-did-resolver - javascript implementation supporting eip721 and eip1155 NFTs

Copyright and related rights waived via CC0.


Please cite this document as:

Joel Thorstensson, "CIP-94: NFT DID Method Specification [DRAFT]," Ceramic Improvement Proposals, no. 94, February 2021. [Online serial]. Available: