Advanced Usage

Making Use of Private CA

There is a not uncommon use case of people deploying Hashicorp Vault with a private certificate authority. Unfortunately the requests module does not make use of the system CA certificates. Instead of disabling SSL verification you can make use of the requests’ verify parameter.

As documented in the advanced usage section for requests this variable can point to a file that is comprised of all CA certificates you may wish to use. This can be a single private CA, or an existing list of root certificates with the private appended to the end. The following example shows how to achieve this:

$ cp "$(python -c 'import certifi;print certifi.where();')" /tmp/bundle.pem
$ cat /path/to/custom.pem >> /tmp/bundle.pem

You then use hvac’s Client.session and requests.Session() to pass the new CA bundle to hvac.

import os

import hvac
import requests

def get_vault_client(vault_url=VAULT_URL, certs=VAULT_CERTS):
        Instantiates a hvac / vault client.
        :param vault_url: string, protocol + address + port for the vault service
        :param certs: tuple, Optional tuple of self-signed certs to use for verification
                with hvac's requests adapter.
        :return: hvac.Client
        logger.debug('Retrieving a vault (hvac) client...')
        vault_client = hvac.Client(
        if certs:
        # When use a self-signed certificate for the vault service itself, we need to
        # include our local ca bundle here for the underlying requests module.
                rs = requests.Session()
                vault_client.session = rs
                rs.verify = certs

        vault_client.token = load_vault_token(vault_client)

        if not vault_client.is_authenticated():
                error_msg = 'Unable to authenticate to the Vault service'
                raise hvac.exceptions.Unauthorized(error_msg)

        return vault_client

If only using the certificate authority for trust, not authentication, SSL verification can be set using the verify parameter.

This configures the client to trust the connection only if the certificate received is signed by a CA in that bundle:

vault_client = hvac.Client(

Custom Requests / HTTP Adapter

Custom Adapters

New in version 0.6.2.

Calls to the requests module. (which provides the methods hvac utilizes to send HTTP/HTTPS request to Vault instances) were extracted from the Client class and moved to a newly added hvac.adapters() module. The Client class itself defaults to an instance of the JSONAdapter class for its _adapter private attribute attribute if no adapter argument is provided to its constructor. This attribute provides an avenue for modifying the manner in which hvac completes request. To enable this type of customization, implement a class of type hvac.adapters.Adapter(), override its abstract methods, and pass this custom class to the adapter argument of the Client constructor

Retrying Failed Requests

Requests to Vault, like any other HTTP request, should be thoughtfully retried for the best experience. For Vault, this is also important for eventual consistency, where Vault will return status 412 when it cannot complete a request due to data that is not yet available on the node where the request was made.

We usually also want to retry 5xx status codes.

The hvac Client class supports providing a custom Session object to its constructor, and through the use of the urllib3.util.Retry class we can fully configure how retries are performed.

from hvac import Client
from urllib3.util import Retry
from requests import Session
from requests.adapters import HTTPAdapter

adapter = HTTPAdapter(max_retries=Retry(
        status_forcelist=[412, 500, 502, 503],
session = requests.Session()
session.mount("http://", adapter)
session.mount("https://", adapter)

client = Client(url='', session=session)

Here we will cover the options shown. See the full Retry class documentation for all of the things that can be customized.

In the example, total refers to the total number of retries that will be performed.

backoff_factor allows for a non-linear delay between retries, with the formula for how long to sleep being: {backoff factor} * (2 ** ({number of total retries} - 1)) (in seconds). This helps prevent retrying too quickly, which mitigates worsening a server overload problem, and prevents an eventual failure if time-based errors are not given enough time to resolve themselves (like eventual consistency failures). Adjust this as needed in your environment.

status_forcelist is a list of HTTP status codes that should be retried. See Vault HTTP Status Codes for a list of which codes Vault returns and in what circumstances.

raise_on_status tells the Retry class whether or not to raise its own exceptions when retries are exhausted. In the case of hvac it is important to set this to False because hvac’s own exceptions are raised based on the exceptions returned by the requests module. If this is set to True, your application will receive different exceptions, and behavior of hvac methods may not be consistent.

Allowed methods

Not shown above is the allowed_methods option for the Retry class. This controls which HTTP methods should be retried.

The default value is frozenset({'DELETE', 'GET', 'HEAD', 'OPTIONS', 'PUT', 'TRACE'}). As described in the documentation:

By default, we only retry on methods which are considered to be idempotent (multiple requests with the same parameters end with the same state).

This means that POST and PATCH requests will not be retried by default; you may want to retry those in some cases if you know the operation is idempotent, or you otherwise do not need to be concerned with changing state more than once, but this should be done with caution.

Multiple Client instances with different retry settings could be used to control that, or you may wish to handle retries on specific methods by catching exceptions and retrying the hvac calls within your own code.

Vault Agent Unix Socket Listener

hvac does not currently offer direct support of requests to a Vault agent process configured with a unix socket listener. However this use case can be handled with the help of the requests_unixsocket module. To accomplish this, first ensure the module is available (e.g. pip install requests_unixsocket), and then instantiate the Client class in the following manner:

import urllib.parse

import requests_unixsocket
import hvac

vault_agent_socket_path = '/var/run/vault/agent.sock'
socket_url = 'http+unix://{encoded_path}'.format(
        encoded_path=urllib.parse.quote(vault_agent_socket_path, safe='')
socket_session = requests_unixsocket.Session()
client = hvac.Client(