Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)M. Nottingham
Request for Comments: 9209Fastly
Category: Standards TrackP. Sikora
ISSN: 2070-1721Google
June 2022

The Proxy-Status HTTP Response Header Field


This document defines the Proxy-Status HTTP response field to convey the details of an intermediary's response handling, including generated errors.

Status of This Memo

This is an Internet Standards Track document.

This document is a product of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). It represents the consensus of the IETF community. It has received public review and has been approved for publication by the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG). Further information on Internet Standards is available in Section 2 of RFC 7841.

Information about the current status of this document, any errata, and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at

Copyright Notice

Copyright (c) 2022 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the document authors. All rights reserved.

This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal Provisions Relating to IETF Documents ( in effect on the date of publication of this document. Please review these documents carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect to this document. Code Components extracted from this document must include Revised BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as described in the Revised BSD License.

1. Introduction

HTTP intermediaries (see Section 3.7 of [HTTP]) -- including both forward proxies and gateways (also known as "reverse proxies") -- have become an increasingly significant part of HTTP deployments. In particular, reverse proxies and content delivery networks (CDNs) form part of the critical infrastructure of many websites.

Typically, HTTP intermediaries forward requests towards the origin server (inbound) and then forward their responses back to clients (outbound). However, if an error occurs before a response is obtained from an inbound server, the response is often generated by the intermediary itself.

HTTP accommodates these types of errors with a few status codes -- for example, 502 (Bad Gateway) and 504 (Gateway Timeout). However, experience has shown that more information is necessary to aid debugging and communicate what's happened to the client. Additionally, intermediaries sometimes want to convey additional information about their handling of a response, even if they did not generate it.

To enable these uses, Section 2 defines a new HTTP response field to allow intermediaries to convey details of their handling of a response. Section 2.1 enumerates the information that can be added to the field by intermediaries, which can be extended per Section 2.2. Section 2.3 defines a set of error types for use when a proxy encounters an issue when obtaining a response for the request; these can likewise be extended per Section 2.4.

1.1. Notational Conventions

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "NOT RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in BCP 14 [RFC2119] [RFC8174] when, and only when, they appear in all capitals, as shown here.

This document uses the following terminology from Section 3 of [STRUCTURED-FIELDS] to specify syntax and parsing: List, String, Token, Integer, and Byte Sequence.

Note that in this specification, "proxy" is used to indicate both forward and reverse proxies, otherwise known as gateways. "Next hop" indicates the connection in the direction leading to the origin server for the request.

3. IANA Considerations

IANA has created the "HTTP Proxy-Status Parameters" registry and the "HTTP Proxy Error Types" registry at <> and has populated them with the types defined in Sections 2.1 and 2.3 respectively; see Sections 2.2 and 2.4 for their associated procedures.

Additionally, the following entry has been added to the "Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) Field Name Registry":

Field name:
Specification document(s):
RFC 9209

4. Security Considerations

One of the primary security concerns when using Proxy-Status is leaking information that might aid an attacker. For example, information about the intermediary's configuration and backend topology can be exposed, allowing attackers to directly target backend services that are not prepared for high traffic volume or malformed inputs. Some information might only be suitable to reveal to authorized parties.

As a result, care needs to be taken when deciding to generate a Proxy-Status field and what information to include in it. Note that intermediaries are not required to generate a Proxy-Status field in any response and can conditionally generate them based upon request attributes (e.g., authentication tokens, IP address).

Likewise, generation of all parameters is optional, as is the generation of the field itself. Also, the field's content is not verified; an intermediary can claim certain actions (e.g., sending a request over an encrypted channel) but fail to actually do that.

5. References

5.1. Normative References

Fielding, R., Ed., Nottingham, M., Ed., and J. Reschke, Ed., “HTTP Semantics”, STD 97, RFC 9110, DOI 10.17487/RFC9110, June 2022, <>.
Bradner, S., “Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels”, BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997, <>.
Friedl, S., Popov, A., Langley, A., and E. Stephan, “Transport Layer Security (TLS) Application-Layer Protocol Negotiation Extension”, RFC 7301, DOI 10.17487/RFC7301, July 2014, <>.
Cotton, M., Leiba, B., and T. Narten, “Guidelines for Writing an IANA Considerations Section in RFCs”, BCP 26, RFC 8126, DOI 10.17487/RFC8126, June 2017, <>.
Leiba, B., “Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC 2119 Key Words”, BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174, May 2017, <>.
Hoffman, P., Sullivan, A., and K. Fujiwara, “DNS Terminology”, BCP 219, RFC 8499, DOI 10.17487/RFC8499, January 2019, <>.
Kumari, W., Hunt, E., Arends, R., Hardaker, W., and D. Lawrence, “Extended DNS Errors”, RFC 8914, DOI 10.17487/RFC8914, October 2020, <>.
Nottingham, M. and P-H. Kamp, “Structured Field Values for HTTP”, RFC 8941, DOI 10.17487/RFC8941, March 2021, <>.
Rescorla, E., “The Transport Layer Security (TLS) Protocol Version 1.3”, RFC 8446, DOI 10.17487/RFC8446, August 2018, <>.

5.2. Informative References

Ludin, S., Nottingham, M., and N. Sullivan, “Loop Detection in Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)”, RFC 8586, DOI 10.17487/RFC8586, April 2019, <>.

Authors' Addresses

Mark Nottingham
Piotr Sikora