How to use Let's Encrypt DNS challenge validation?

Solution 1:

Currently it is possible to perform DNS validation, also with the certbot LetsEncrypt client in manual mode. Automation is possible as well (see below).

Manual plugin

You can either perform a manual verification - with the manual plugin.

certbot -d --manual --preferred-challenges dns certonly

Certbot will then provide you instructions to manually update a TXT record for the domain in order to proceed with the validation.

Please deploy a DNS TXT record under the name with the following value:


Once this is deployed,
Press ENTER to continue

Once you have updated the DNS record, press Enter, certbot will continue and if the LetsEncrypt CA verifies the challenge, the certificate is issued as normally.

You may also use a command with more options to minimize interactivity and answering certbot questions. Note that the manual plugin does not yet support non-interactive mode.

certbot --text --agree-tos --email [email protected] -d --manual --preferred-challenges dns --expand --renew-by-default  --manual-public-ip-logging-ok certonly

Renewal does not work with the manual plugin as it runs in non-interactive mode. More info in the official certbot documentation.

Update: manual hooks

In the new certbot version you can use hooks, e.g., --manual-auth-hook, --manual-cleanup-hook. The hooks are external scripts executed by certbot to perform the task.

Information is passed in environment variables - e.g., domain to validate, challenge token. Vars: CERTBOT_DOMAIN, CERTBOT_VALIDATION, CERTBOT_TOKEN.

certbot certonly --manual --preferred-challenges=dns --manual-auth-hook /path/to/dns/ --manual-cleanup-hook /path/to/dns/ -d

You can write your own handler or use already existing ones. There are many available, e.g., for Cloudflare DNS.

More info on official certbot hooks documentation.

Automation, Renewal, Scripting

If you would like to automate DNS challenge validation it is not currently possible with vanilla certbot. Update: some automation is possible with the certbot hooks.

We thus created a simple plugin that supports scripting with DNS automation. It's available as certbot-external-auth.

pip install certbot-external-auth

It supports the DNS, HTTP, TLS-SNI validation methods. You can either use it in handler mode or in JSON output mode.

Handler mode

In handler mode, the certbot + plugin calls external hooks (a program, shell script, Python, ...) to perform the validation and installation. In practice you write a simple handler/shell script which gets the input arguments - domain, token and makes the change in DNS. When the handler finishes, certbot proceeds with validation as usual.

This gives you extra flexibility, renewal is also possible.

Handler mode is also compatible with Dehydrated DNS hooks (former There are already many DNS hooks for common providers (e.g., CloudFlare, GoDaddy, AWS). In the repository there is a README with extensive examples and example handlers.

Example with Dehydrated DNS hook:

certbot \
    --text --agree-tos --email [email protected] \
    --expand --renew-by-default \
    --configurator certbot-external-auth:out \
    --certbot-external-auth:out-public-ip-logging-ok \
    -d "" \
    --preferred-challenges dns \
    --certbot-external-auth:out-handler ./ \
    --certbot-external-auth:out-dehydrated-dns \

JSON mode

Another plugin mode is JSON mode. It produces one JSON object per line. This enables a more complicated integration - e.g., when Ansible or some deployment manager is calling certbot. Communication is performed via STDOUT and STDIN. Cerbot produces JSON objects with data to perform the validation, for example:

certbot \
    --text --agree-tos --email [email protected] \
    --expand --renew-by-default \
    --configurator certbot-external-auth:out \
    --certbot-external-auth:out-public-ip-logging-ok \
    -d "" \
    --preferred-challenges dns \
    certonly 2>/dev/null

{"cmd": "perform_challenge", "type": "dns-01", "domain": "", "token": "3gJ87yANDpmuuKVL2ktfQ0_qURQ3mN0IfqgbTU_AGS4", "validation": "ejEDZXYEeYHUxqBAiX4csh8GKkeVX7utK6BBOBshZ1Y", "txt_domain": "", "key_auth": "3gJ87yANDpmuuKVL2ktfQ0_qURQ3mN0IfqgbTU_AGS4.tRQM98JsABZRm5-NiotcgD212RAUPPbyeDP30Ob_7-0"}

Once DNS is updated, the caller sends the new-line character to STDIN of certbot to signal it can continue with validation.

This enables automation and certificate management from the central management server. For installation you can deploy certificates over SSH.

For more info please refer to the readme and examples on certbot-external-auth GitHub.

EDIT: There is also a new blog post describing the DNS validation problem and the plugin usage.

EDIT: We currently work on Ansible 2-step validation, will be soon off.

Solution 2:

I was able to use the dehydrated client to obtain a certificate using DNS validation.

./dehydrated --cron --domain --hook ./hook.route53.rb --challenge dns-01

You'll need to use the correct DNS validation hook for your domain, but there are a few options available as examples:

Solution 3:

As of today, the official client doesn't support the DNS-01 challenge type (yet).


I haven't looked at this so I don't really know. My high-level understanding was just "no support in our Python client for the DNS challenge yet".

You can follow the progress at this PR. Alternatively, there are some clients that already support it.

Solution 4:

I wrote a hook script for the client that allows you to use Lets Encrypt DNS verification for DNS providers that don't provide an api to use (aka, manual entry and verification is required).

You can check it out here:

Solution 5:

As mentioned in previous answers, you can easy verify a domain by DNS with this:

  1. install required applications (under Ubuntu): apt-get install -y git ruby letsencrypt git clone git clone dehydrated/hooks/manual
  2. generate certificate with manual DNS challenge confirmation for (replace with your domain): ./dehydrated/dehydrated -c -t dns-01 -d -k ./dehydrated/hooks /manual/manual_hook.rb


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