Onboarding ERC20 Tokens to OpenZeppelin Upgrades

Content migrated from https://docs.openzeppelin.com/sdk/erc20-onboarding.
This article was originally published in October 2018, and may no longer reflect best practices.

Onboarding ERC20 Tokens to OpenZeppelin Upgrades


This guide covers the migration of a regular ERC20 token to an upgradeable version of itself. During this process, the original contract (to be called “legacy”) and the new contract, which will have the ability of being upgraded, will coexist.

The new upgradable contract will have the same functionality provided by the legacy contract, but it will be upgradable. This means that we will be able to add new functionality, store new data, fix bugs or support new standards as many times as we need, without any need to perform new migrations in the future.


This strategy is based on an optional migration of the token balances. This migration is performed and paid by the token holders. The new upgradeable token contract starts with no initial supply and no balances. The only way to “mint” the new tokens is for users to “turn in” their old ones. This is done by first approving the amount they want to migrate, and then calling a function of the upgradeable token to carry out the migration. The old tokens are sent to a burn address, and the holder receives an equal amount in the new token contract.


This on-boarding plan considers the following assumptions:

  • There is an already deployed token contract that follows the ERC20 standard.
  • The legacy token contract is not frozen or paused, so token holders can trade it.

Onboarding plan demo

The central idea of this proposal is to deploy an upgradeable version of your token, using the OpenZeppelin CLI. Additionally, we will use the ERC20Migrator contract provided by @openzeppelin/contracts-ethereum-package, the OpenZeppelin Contracts Ethereum Package.

To better describe this plan we will use a sample project you can follow and clone from here.

We will now setup a local environment to demo the onboarding plan. To do this, we will deploy a sample legacy token contract and mint some balances. If you wish to work with your already deployed token, you can skip the following lines and jump directly to Step 1.


In the sample repository you will find a contract called MyLegacyToken that we will use to simulate a real scenario locally. As you can see, this token will mint 100 tokens to the owner once initialized just for testing purposes.

Before we begin, remember to install the dependencies running npm install. Additionally, you should check that everything is working as expected by compiling the contracts with npx truffle compile and then running the test files with npm test.

Now, let’s deploy the legacy token. We will use ganache-cli, a personal blockchain for Ethereum development that you can use to deploy your contracts and develop your applications. To start using it, run the following command:

$ npx ganache-cli --port 9545

After that, you will be able to attach a truffle console to an already configured network inside the truffle-config.js by running:

$ npx truffle console --network local

Then, run the following commands:

truffle(local)> compile
truffle(local)> owner = (await web3.eth.getAccounts())[1]
truffle(local)> legacyToken = await MyLegacyToken.new({ from: owner })
truffle(local)> legacyToken.address

Keep track of the owner and legacyToken addresses, we will need them in the following steps.

You can check the owner balance by running:

truffle(local)> (await legacyToken.balanceOf(owner)).toString()

Remember not to close this console, as we will be using it later.

1. Initialize your migration project with the OpenZeppelin SDK

To initialize this project with the OpenZeppelin SDK, open a terminal and run the following line:

$ npx oz init my-token-migration 1.0.0

We have just initialized a new OpenZeppelin project. A new .openzeppelin/project.json file should have been created.

Next, we will have to modify the legacy token contract to get the new upgradeable version of it where the current balances are going to be migrated.

In our sample project, you will find another contract called MyUpgradeableToken which will be the upgradeable version of the sample legacy token contract MyLegacyToken:

pragma solidity ^0.5.0;

import "@openzeppelin/upgrades/contracts/Initializable.sol";
import "@openzeppelin/contracts-ethereum-package/contracts/token/ERC20/IERC20.sol";
import "@openzeppelin/contracts-ethereum-package/contracts/drafts/ERC20Migrator.sol";
import "@openzeppelin/contracts-ethereum-package/contracts/token/ERC20/ERC20Mintable.sol";
import "@openzeppelin/contracts-ethereum-package/contracts/token/ERC20/ERC20Detailed.sol";

contract MyUpgradeableToken is Initializable, ERC20, ERC20Detailed, ERC20Mintable {

  function initialize(ERC20Detailed _legacyToken, ERC20Migrator _migrator) initializer public {
    ERC20Detailed.initialize(_legacyToken.name(), _legacyToken.symbol(), _legacyToken.decimals());


On one hand, it is very important to replicate all the information and functionality that was provided by the legacy token. In this case, we are inheriting from the ERC20 and ERC20Detailed contracts provided by the OpenZeppelin Contracts Ethereum Package to replicate all the functionality of an ERC20 token.

On the other hand, we are defining an initialize method that receives an ERC20Migrator instance that will take care of all the migration functionality we will need. To work with ERC20Migrator, your upgradeable token has to be mintable, that’s why we are also inheriting from the ERC20Mintable contract provided by the OpenZeppelin EVM package as well.

Initializers are the way to define constructor functionality for upgradeable contracts in the OpenZeppelin SDK. The initializer modifier will make sure your initialize method can only be called once in the whole lifetime of your contract.

Notice that all the contracts from @openzeppelin/contracts-ethereum-package have been adapted for OpenZeppelin SDK compatibility, and should be the ones used when dealing with upgradeable contracts.

Besides allowing us to build upgradeable applications, the OpenZeppelin SDK provides Ethereum Packages. To use an Ethereum Package in our project, we simply need to use the link command giving the name of the npm package of the Ethereum Package we want to use. In this case, we will link the OpenZeppelin Contracts Ethereum Package to be able to use the contracts it provides in our project:

$ npx oz link @openzeppelin/contracts-ethereum-package

Finally we can add our upgradeable token contract to the project:


$ npx oz add MyUpgradeableToken

Great, our project has been linked to the OpenZeppelin Contracts Ethereum Package and our MyUpgradeableToken has been added.

2. Deploy the upgradeable token

The first thing we have to do is to deploy our contract source code. We will also need to deploy a copy of the OpenZeppelin Contracts Ethereum Package since we will be working on a local environment. To do so, run the following command:

$ npx oz push -n local --deploy-dependencies

Note that we are using the --deploy-dependencies to deploy the OpenZeppelin Contracts Ethereum Package locally, since it is not deployed in our local blockchain yet.

We have just deployed the MyUpgradeableToken source code and the OpenZeppelin Contracts Ethereum Package to the local network. A new .openzeppelin/dev-<network_id>.json file should have been created.

Now, let’s create a new instance of the upgradeable token using the OpenZeppelin SDK. To do so, we will need to create an instance of an ERC20Migrator first, but given it is not yet provided by the OpenZeppelin Contracts Ethereum Package, we will have to add it manually. Then, run the following commands: replacing LEGACY_TOKEN_ADDRESS with the address of the legacy token contract:

$ npx oz add ERC20Migrator
$ npx oz push -n local --deploy-dependencies
$ npx oz create ERC20Migrator --args LEGACY_TOKEN_ADDRESS -n local

Great! We have created a new upgradeable instance using the ERC20Migrator contract provided by the OpenZeppelin EVM package. Now, we can create a new upgradeable instance of our MyUpgradeableToken running the following command. Please make sure you replace LEGACY_TOKEN_ADDRESS with the address of the legacy token contract and ERC20_MIGRATOR_ADDRESS with the address of the instance you created above:

$ npx oz create MyUpgradeableToken --args LEGACY_TOKEN_ADDRESS,ERC20_MIGRATOR_ADDRESS -n local

Save the upgradeable token address outputted by this command, we will need it later.

Note that the proxies section of .openzeppelin/dev-<network_id>.json should now include the following, as the OpenZeppelin SDK is tracking the upgradeable instances we have just created:

  "proxies": {
    "erc20-onboarding/ERC20Migrator": [
        "address": "0x...",
        "version": "1.0.0",
        "implementation": "0x..."
    "erc20-onboarding/MyUpgradeableToken": [
        "address": "0x...",
        "version": "1.0.0",
        "implementation": "0x..."

3. Migrate your old token balance

In order to migrate your balance, go back to the truffle console if you have deployed your legacy token locally or open a new one against the network where your legacy token is deployed. Then, run the following commands, replacing ERC20_MIGRATOR_ADDRESS and UPGRADEABLE_TOKEN_ADDRESS with their corresponding proxy address returned by openzeppelin create commands of the previous step:

truffle(local)> erc20Migrator = await ERC20Migrator.at('ERC20_MIGRATOR_ADDRESS')
truffle(local)> upgradeableToken = await MyUpgradeableToken.at('UPGRADEABLE_TOKEN_ADDRESS')
truffle(local)> erc20Migrator.beginMigration(upgradeableToken.address, { from: owner })
truffle(local)> balance = await legacyToken.balanceOf(owner)
truffle(local)> legacyToken.approve(erc20Migrator.address, balance, { from: owner })
truffle(local)> erc20Migrator.migrateAll(owner, { from: owner })

We can now check your balance in the legacy token:

truffle(local)> (await legacyToken.balanceOf(owner)).toString()

Also the burned balance:

truffle(local)> (await legacyToken.balanceOf(erc20Migrator.address)).toString()

And the upgradeable token balance:

truffle(local)> (await upgradeableToken.balanceOf(owner, { from: owner })).toString()

Your legacy token has been migrated to an upgradeable token!

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