From ArchWiki

Paperkey is a command line tool to export GnuPG keys on paper. It reduces the size of the exported key, by removing the public key parts from the private key. Paperkey also includes CRC-24 checksums in the key to allow the user to check whether their private key has been restored correctly.


Install paperkeyAUR from the AUR.



Warning: You need to have the public key available when restoring the paperkey backup! Since it's safe to have your public key available publicly, consider uploading it to a keyserver.

To create a backup of your GnuPG key, pipe the private key to paperkey:

$ gpg --export-secret-key key-id | paperkey --output paperkey.asc

Restore secret key

To restore the secret key you need to have a file with the paperkey data and the public key. Then run the following command to import the private key to ~/.gnupg:

$ paperkey --pubring public-key.asc --secrets secret-key-paper.asc | gpg --import

Alternatively, restore the private key to a file:

$ paperkey --pubring public-key.asc --secrets secret-key-paper.asc --output secret-key.asc

Tips and tricks

Print secret key directly

If no --output argument is given, paperkey will print it's output to stdout. It's possible to print the key directly without intermediate file, which might have security implications. To do so, install CUPS, and pipe to lpr:

$ gpg --export-secret-key key-id | paperkey | lpr