When developing Daml applications using SDK tools, your local setup will most likely not verify any authorization - by default, any valid ledger API request will be accepted by the sandbox.

To run your application against a deployed ledger, you will need to add authorization.


The Ledger API is used to request changes to the ledger (e.g., “Alice wants to exercise choice X on contract Y”), or to read data from the ledger (e.g., “Alice wants to see all active contracts”).

What requests are valid is defined by integrity and privacy parts the Daml Ledger Model. This model is defined in terms of Daml parties, and does not require any cryptographic information to be sent along with requests.

In particular, this model does not talk about authentication (“Is the request claiming to come from Alice really sent by Alice?”) and authorization (“Is Alice authorized to add a new Daml package to the ledger?”).

In practice, Daml ledgers will therefore need to add authentication to the ledger API.


Depending on the ledger topology, a Daml ledger may consist of multiple participant nodes, each having its own ledger API server. Each participant node typically hosts different Daml parties, and only sees data visible to the parties hosted on that node (as defined by the Daml privacy model).

For more details on Daml ledger topologies, refer to the Daml Ledger Topologies documentation.

Adding authentication

How authentication is set up on a particular ledger is defined by the ledger operator. However, most authentication setups share the following pattern:

First, the Daml application contacts a token issuer to get an access token. The token issuer verifies the identity of the requesting user (e.g., by checking the username/password credentials sent with the request), looks up the privileges of the user, and generates a signed access token describing those privileges.

Then, the Daml application sends the access token along with each ledger API request. The Daml ledger verifies the signature of the token (to make sure it has not been tampered with), and then checks that the privileges described in the token authorize the given ledger API request.



  • Authentication is the process of confirming an identity.
  • Authorization is the process of checking permissions to access a resource.
  • A token (or access token) is a tamper-proof piece of data that contains security information, such as the user identity or its privileges.
  • A token issuer is a service that generates tokens. Also known as “authentication server” or “Identity and Access Management (IAM) system”.

Access tokens and claims

Access tokens contain information about the capabilities held by the bearer of the token. This information is represented by a claim to a given capability.

The claims can express the following capabilities:

  • public: ability to retrieve publicly available information, such as the ledger identity
  • admin: ability to interact with admin-level services, such as package uploading and party allocation
  • canReadAs(p): ability to read information off the ledger (like the active contracts) visible to the party p
  • canActsAs(p): same as canReadAs(p), with the added ability of issuing commands on behalf of the party p

The following table summarizes what kind of claim is required to access each Ledger API endpoint:

Ledger API service Endpoint Required claim
LedgerIdentityService GetLedgerIdentity public
ActiveContractsService GetActiveContracts for each requested party p: canReadAs(p)
CommandSubmissionService Submit for submitting party p: canActAs(p)
CompletionEnd public
CompletionStream for each requested party p: canReadAs(p)
CommandService All for submitting party p: canActAs(p)
LedgerConfigurationService GetLedgerConfiguration public
PackageService All public
PackageManagementService All admin
PartyManagementService All admin
PruningService All admin
ResetService All admin
TimeService GetTime public
SetTime admin
TransactionService LedgerEnd public
All (except LedgerEnd) for each requested party p: canReadAs(p)

Access tokens may be represented differently based on the ledger implementation.

To learn how these claims are represented in the Sandbox, read the sandbox documentation.

Getting access tokens

To learn how to receive access tokens for a deployed ledger, contact your ledger operator. This may be a manual exchange over a secure channel, or your application may have to request tokens at runtime using an API such as OAuth.

To learn how to generate access tokens for the Sandbox, read the sandbox documentation.

Using access tokens

To learn how to use access tokens in the Scala bindings, read the Scala bindings authorization documentation.