» HTTP API

The Vault HTTP API gives you full access to Vault via HTTP. Every aspect of Vault can be controlled via this API. The Vault CLI uses the HTTP API to access Vault.

All API routes are prefixed with /v1/.

This documentation is only for the v1 API, which is currently the only version.

» Transport

The API is expected to be accessed over a TLS connection at all times, with a valid certificate that is verified by a well-behaved client. It is possible to disable TLS verification for listeners, however, so API clients should expect to have to do both depending on user settings.

» Authentication

Once Vault is unsealed, almost every other operation requires a client token. A user may have a client token sent to them. The client token must be sent as the X-Vault-Token HTTP header.

Otherwise, a client token can be retrieved via authentication backends.

Each auth method has one or more unauthenticated login endpoints. These endpoints can be reached without any authentication, and are used for authentication to Vault itself. These endpoints are specific to each auth method.

Responses from auth login methods that generate an authentication token are sent back to the client via JSON. The resulting token should be saved on the client or passed via the X-Vault-Token header for future requests.

» Namespaces

If using the Namespaces feature, API operations are relative to the namespace value passed in via the X-Vault-Namespace header. For instance, if the request path is to secret/foo, and the header is set to ns1/ns2/, the final request path Vault uses will be ns1/ns2/secret/foo. Note that it is semantically equivalent to use a full path rather than the X-Vault-Namespace header, as the operation in Vault will always look up the correct namespace based on the final given path. Thus, it would be equivalent to the above example to set X-Vault-Namespace to ns1/ and a request path of ns2/secret/foo, or to not set X-Vault-Namespace at all and use a request path of ns1/ns2/secret/foo.

For example, the following two commands result in equivalent requests:

$ curl \
    -H "X-Vault-Token: f3b09679-3001-009d-2b80-9c306ab81aa6" \
    -H "X-Vault-Namespace: ns1/ns2/" \
    -X GET \
    http://127.0.0.1:8200/v1/secret/foo
$ curl \
    -H "X-Vault-Token: f3b09679-3001-009d-2b80-9c306ab81aa6" \
    -X GET \
    http://127.0.0.1:8200/v1/ns1/ns2/secret/foo

» API Operations

With few documented exceptions, all request body data and response data from Vault is via JSON. Vault will set the Content-Type header appropriately but does not require that clients set it.

Different plugins implement different APIs according to their functionality. The examples below are created with the KVv1 backend, which acts like a very simple Key/Value store. Read the documentation for a particular backend for detailed information on its API; this simply provides a general overview.

For KVv1, reading a secret via the HTTP API is done by issuing a GET:

/v1/secret/foo

This maps to secret/foo where foo is the key in the secret/ mount, which is mounted by default on a fresh Vault install and is of type kv.

Here is an example of reading a secret using cURL:

$ curl \
    -H "X-Vault-Token: f3b09679-3001-009d-2b80-9c306ab81aa6" \
    -X GET \
    http://127.0.0.1:8200/v1/secret/foo

A few endpoints consume query parameters via GET calls, but only if those parameters are not sensitive, as some load balancers will log these. Most endpoints that consume parameters use POST instead and put the parameters in the request body.

You can list secrets as well. To do this, either issue a GET with the query parameter list=true, or you can use the LIST HTTP verb. For the kv backend, listing is allowed on directories only, and returns the keys in the given directory:

$ curl \
    -H "X-Vault-Token: f3b09679-3001-009d-2b80-9c306ab81aa6" \
    -X LIST \
    http://127.0.0.1:8200/v1/secret/

The API documentation uses LIST as the HTTP verb, but you can still use GET with the ?list=true query string.

To use an API that consumes data via request body, issue a POST or PUT:

/v1/secret/foo

with a JSON body like:

{
  "value": "bar"
}

Here is an example of writing a secret using cURL:

$ curl \
    -H "X-Vault-Token: f3b09679-3001-009d-2b80-9c306ab81aa6" \
    -H "Content-Type: application/json" \
    -X POST \
    -d '{"value":"bar"}' \
    http://127.0.0.1:8200/v1/secret/baz

Vault currently considers PUT and POST to be synonyms. Rather than trust a client's stated intentions, Vault backends can implement an existence check to discover whether an operation is actually a create or update operation based on the data already stored within Vault. This makes permission management via ACLs more flexible.

For more examples, please look at the Vault API client.

» Help

To retrieve the help for any API within Vault, including mounted backends, auth methods, etc. then append ?help=1 to any URL. If you have valid permission to access the path, then the help text will be returned with the following structure:

{
  "help": "help text"
}

» Error Response

A common JSON structure is always returned to return errors:

{
  "errors": [
    "message",
    "another message"
  ]
}

This structure will be sent down for any HTTP status greater than or equal to 400.

» HTTP Status Codes

The following HTTP status codes are used throughout the API. Vault tries to adhere to these whenever possible, but in some cases may not -- feel free to file a bug in that case to point our attention to it!

  • 200 - Success with data.
  • 204 - Success, no data returned.
  • 400 - Invalid request, missing or invalid data.
  • 403 - Forbidden, your authentication details are either incorrect, you don't have access to this feature, or - if CORS is enabled - you made a cross-origin request from an origin that is not allowed to make such requests.
  • 404 - Invalid path. This can both mean that the path truly doesn't exist or that you don't have permission to view a specific path. We use 404 in some cases to avoid state leakage.
  • 429 - Default return code for health status of standby nodes. This will likely change in the future.
  • 473 - Default return code for health status of performance standby nodes.
  • 500 - Internal server error. An internal error has occurred, try again later. If the error persists, report a bug.
  • 502 - A request to Vault required Vault making a request to a third party; the third party responded with an error of some kind.
  • 503 - Vault is down for maintenance or is currently sealed. Try again later.

» Limits

A maximum request size of 32MB is imposed to prevent a denial of service attack with arbitrarily large requests; this can be tuned per listener block in Vault's server configuration file.