Troubleshooting installation

Internal error occurred: failed calling admission webhook … the server is currently unable to handle the request

When installing or upgrading cert-manager, you may run into issues when going through the Validation Steps in the install guide which relate to the admission webhook.

If you see an error like the above, this guide will talk you through a few checks that can pick up common installation problems.

1. Check the namespace cert-manager is running in

As described in the Webhook component documentation, the webhook component requires TLS certificates in order to start and communicate securely with the Kubernetes API server.

In order for cert-manager to be able to issue certificates for the webhook before it has started, we must disable resource validation on the namespace that cert-manager is running in.

Assuming you have deployed into the cert-manager namespace, run the following command to verify that your cert-manager namespace has the necessary label:

kubectl get namespace

Name:         cert-manager

If you cannot see the label on your namespace, you should add it with:

kubectl label namespace cert-manager

Please continue reading this guide once you have added the label.

2. Verify that the webhook Issuer and Certificate resources exist

If you had any issues upgrading, especially if you install cert-manager using Helm, you may run into an issue where either:

  • the CustomResourceDefinition resources do not exist
  • the webhook’s Issuer and Certificate resources do not exist

We can first check for the existence of the CustomResourceDefinition resources:

kubectl get crd | grep certmanager

NAME                                          CREATED AT               2018-08-17T20:12:26Z                 2018-08-02T15:33:02Z             2018-08-17T20:12:26Z                    2018-08-17T20:12:26Z                     2018-08-02T14:40:11Z

We should then also check for that the webhook’s Issuer and Certificate resources exist and have been issued correctly:

kubectl get issuer,certificate

NAME                                                      AGE         22d   22d

NAME                                                              READY   SECRET                             AGE            True    cert-manager-webhook-ca            22d   True    cert-manager-webhook-webhook-tls   22d

If you do not see the CustomResourceDefinitions installed, or cannot see the webhook’s Issuer and Certificate resources, please go back to the install guide and ensure you’ve followed every step closely.

Take particular care to install the CRD manifest before installing cert-manager itself.

3. Verify all cert-manager pods are running successfully

You can verify that cert-manager has managed to start successfully by checking the state of the pods that have been deployed:

# Get all pods, including Completed and Errored pods
kubectl get pods --show-all --namespace cert-manager

NAME                                            READY   STATUS      RESTARTS   AGE
cert-manager-7cbdc48784-rpgnt                   1/1     Running     0          3m
cert-manager-webhook-5b5dd6999-kst4x            1/1     Running     0          3m
cert-manager-cainjector-3ba5cd2bcd-de332x       1/1     Running     0          3m

If the ‘webhook’ pod (2nd line) is in a ContainerCreating state, it may still be waiting for the Secret in step 2 to be mounted into the pod.

Provided the Secret resource does now exist, Waiting a few minutes, or deleting the pod and allowing it to be recreated should get things moving again.


Check if the Secret exists by running:

kubectl get secret cert-manager-webhook-webhook-tls