Vault Enterprise integrates HashiCorp Sentinel to provide a rich set of access control functionality. Because Vault is a security-focused product trusted with high-risk secrets and assets, and because of its default-deny stance, integration with Vault is implemented in a defense-in-depth fashion. This takes the form of multiple types of policies and a fixed evaluation order.

»Policy Types

Vault's policy system has been expanded to support three types of policies:

  • ACLs - These are the traditional Vault policies and remain unchanged.

  • Role Governing Policies (RGPs) - RGPs are Sentinel policies that are tied to particular tokens, Identity entities, or Identity groups. They have access to a rich set of controls across various aspects of Vault.

  • Endpoint Governing Policies (EGPs) - EGPs are Sentinel policies that are tied to particular paths instead of tokens. They have access to as much request information as possible, but they can take effect even on unauthenticated paths, such as login paths.

Not every unauthenticated path supports EGPs. For instance, the paths related to root token generation cannot support EGPs because it's already the mechanism of last resort if, for instance, all clients are locked out of Vault due to misconfigured EGPs.

Like with ACLs, root tokens tokens are not subject to Sentinel policy checks.

Sentinel execution should be considered to be significantly slower than normal ACL policy checking. If high performance is needed, testing should be performed appropriately when introducing Sentinel policies.

»Policy Evaluation

During evaluation, all policy types, if they exist, must grant access. Evaluation uses the following logic:

  1. If the request is unauthenticated, skip to step 3. Otherwise, evaluate the token's ACL policies. These must grant access; as always, a failure to be granted capabilities on a path via ACL policies denies the request.
  2. RGPs attached to the token are evaluated. All policies must pass according to their enforcement level.
  3. EGPs set on the requested path, and any prefix-matching EGPs set on less-specific paths, are evaluated. All policies must pass according to their enforcement level.

Any failure at any of these steps results in a denied request.

»Policy Overriding

Vault supports normal Sentinel overriding behavior. Requests to override can be specified on the command line via the policy-override flag or in HTTP requests by setting the X-Vault-Policy-Override header to true.

Override requests are visible in Vault's audit log; in addition, override requests and their eventual status (whether they ended up being required) are logged as warnings in Vault's server logs.


Sentinel policies support the Identity-based MFA system in Vault Enterprise. Within a single request, multiple checks of any named MFA method will only trigger authentication behavior for that method once, regardless of whether its validity is checked via ACLs, RGPs, or EGPs.

EGPs can be used to require MFA on otherwise unauthenticated paths, such as login paths. On such paths, the request data will perform a lookahead to try to discover the appropriate Identity information to use for MFA. It may be necessary to pre-populate Identity entries or supply additional parameters with the request if you require more information to use MFA than the endpoint is able to glean from the original request alone.

»Using Sentinel


Sentinel policies can be configured via the sys/policies/rgp/ and sys/policies/egp/ endpoints; see the documentation for more information.

Once set, RGPs can be assigned to Identity entities and groups or to tokens just like ACL policies. As a result, they cannot share names with ACL policies.

When setting an EGP, a list of paths must be provided specifying on which paths that EGP should take effect. Endpoints can have multiple distinct EGPs set on them; all are evaluated for each request. Paths can use a glob character (*) as the last character of the path to perform a prefix match; a path that consists only of a * will apply to the root of the API. Since requests are subject to an EGPs exactly matching the requested path and any glob EGPs sitting further up the request path, an EGP with a path of * will thus take effect on all requests.

»Properties and Examples

See the Examples page for examples of Sentinel in action, and the Properties page for detailed property documentation.


Refer to the Sentinel Policies guide for a step-by-step tutorial.