Issuing an ACME certificate using DNS validation¶
This guide needs rewriting to be clearer, splitting into sections and potentially rewriting altogether.
cert-manager can be used to obtain certificates from a CA using the ACME protocol. The ACME protocol supports various challenge mechanisms which are used to prove ownership of a domain so that a valid certificate can be issued for that domain.
One such challenge mechanism is DNS-01. With a DNS-01 challenge, you prove ownership of a domain by proving you control its DNS records. This is done by creating a TXT record with specific content that proves you have control of the domains DNS records.
The following Issuer defines the necessary information to enable DNS validation. You can read more about the Issuer resource in the Issuer reference docs.
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apiVersion: certmanager.k8s.io/v1alpha1 kind: Issuer metadata: name: letsencrypt-staging namespace: default spec: acme: server: https://acme-staging-v02.api.letsencrypt.org/directory email: user[email protected] # Name of a secret used to store the ACME account private key privateKeySecretRef: name: letsencrypt-staging # ACME DNS-01 provider configurations dns01: # Here we define a list of DNS-01 providers that can solve DNS challenges providers: - name: prod-dns clouddns: # A secretKeyRef to a google cloud json service account serviceAccountSecretRef: name: clouddns-service-account key: service-account.json # The project in which to update the DNS zone project: gcloud-prod-project - name: cf-dns cloudflare: email: [email protected] # A secretKeyRef to a cloudflare api key apiKeySecretRef: name: cloudflare-api-key key: api-key.txt
We have specified the ACME server URL for Let’s Encrypt’s staging environment.
The staging environment will not issue trusted certificates but is used to
ensure that the verification process is working properly before moving to
production. Let’s Encrypt’s production environment imposes much stricter
rate limits, so to reduce the chance of you hitting those limits it is
highly recommended to start by using the staging environment. To move to
production, simply create a new Issuer with the URL set to
The first stage of the ACME protocol is for the client to register with the
ACME server. This phase includes generating an asymmetric key pair which is
then associated with the email address specified in the Issuer. Make sure to
change this email address to a valid one that you own. It is commonly used to
send expiry notices when your certificates are coming up for renewal. The
generated private key is stored in a Secret named
dns01 stanza contains a list of DNS-01 providers that can be used to
solve DNS challenges. Our Issuer defines two providers. This gives us a choice
of which one to use when obtaining certificates.
More information about the DNS provider configuration, including a list of supported providers, can be found in the dns01 reference docs.
Once we have created the above Issuer we can use it to obtain a certificate.
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apiVersion: certmanager.k8s.io/v1alpha1 kind: Certificate metadata: name: example-com namespace: default spec: secretName: example-com-tls issuerRef: name: letsencrypt-staging commonName: '*.example.com' dnsNames: - example.com - foo.com acme: config: - dns01: provider: prod-dns domains: - '*.example.com' - example.com - dns01: provider: cf-dns domains: - foo.com
The Certificate resource describes our desired certificate and the possible
methods that can be used to obtain it.
You can obtain certificates for wildcard domains just like any other. Make sure to
wrap wildcard domains with asterisks in your YAML resources, to avoid formatting issues.
If you specify both
*.example.com on the same Certificate,
it will take slightly longer to perform validation as each domain will have to be
validated one after the other.
You can learn more about the Certificate resource in the reference docs.
If the certificate is obtained successfully, the resulting key pair will be
stored in a secret called
example-com-tls in the same namespace as the Certificate.
The certificate will have a common name of
*.example.com and the
Subject Alternative Names (SANs) will be
In our Certificate we have referenced the
letsencrypt-staging Issuer above.
The Issuer must be in the same namespace as the Certificate.
If you want to reference a ClusterIssuer, which is a cluster-scoped version of
an Issuer, you must add
kind: ClusterIssuer to the
For more information on ClusterIssuers, read the ClusterIssuer reference docs.
acme stanza defines the configuration for our ACME challenges.
Here we have defined the configuration for our DNS challenges which will be used
to verify domain ownership.
For each domain mentioned in a
dns01 stanza, cert-manager will use the
provider’s credentials from the referenced Issuer to create a TXT record called
This record will then be verified by the ACME server in order to issue the
Once domain ownership has been verified, any cert-manager affected records will
be cleaned up.
It is your responsibility to ensure the selected provider is authoritative for your domain.
After creating the above Certificate, we can check whether it has been obtained
$ kubectl describe certificate example-com Events: Type Reason Age From Message ---- ------ ---- ---- ------- Normal CreateOrder 57m cert-manager Created new ACME order, attempting validation... Normal DomainVerified 55m cert-manager Domain "*.example.com" verified with "dns-01" validation Normal DomainVerified 55m cert-manager Domain "example.com" verified with "dns-01" validation Normal DomainVerified 55m cert-manager Domain "foo.com" verified with "dns-01" validation Normal IssueCert 55m cert-manager Issuing certificate... Normal CertObtained 55m cert-manager Obtained certificate from ACME server Normal CertIssued 55m cert-manager Certificate issued successfully
You can also check whether issuance was successful with
kubectl get secret example-com-tls -o yaml.
You should see a base64 encoded signed TLS key pair.
Once our certificate has been obtained, cert-manager will periodically check its validity and attempt to renew it if it gets close to expiry. cert-manager considers certificates to be close to expiry when the ‘Not After’ field on the certificate is less than the current time plus 30 days.