Object validation in IRRd

In general, IRRd follows RFC 2622, 2650, 2726, 2725, 4012 and 2769. However, most current IRR databases violate these RFCs in some ways, meaning some flexibility is needed.

In addition to the validations as described below, IRRd supports an RPKI-aware mode where objects are also validated against ROAs.

The irrd.rpsl module deals with parsing and validation in general. The general requirements for validation are:

  • Any objects submitted to IRRd directly (i.e. not from mirrors) should always be entirely valid. If they are not, the end user can fix their object and continue from there.

  • The NTTCOM database has some legacy objects which require more leniency with an initial import, but we aim to be as restrictive as reasonably possible. It should not be possible to update invalid objects without correcting their issues.

  • Mirrors contain wildly variant objects, so IRRd performs the minimal level of validation needed to correctly index and query them.

  • Under no condition may IRRd provide responses to any query, which are missing certain objects because indexed data could not be extracted from them, without logging errors about failing to import these objects.

  • If objects are received from mirrors that can not be accepted, e.g. a route object with an invalid prefix, the object will be ignored and IRRd will record errors in the logs.

The parser/validator has two modes:

  • Non-strict: includes validation of the presence of all primary key fields, and the correct syntax of all primary key and look-up fields. Object classes that are unknown are ignored. The syntax of an attribute name is validated, i.e. whether it contains valid characters only, but values are usually not validated.

  • Strict: validates presence, count, and correct syntax of all fields. Validation fails on attributes that are not known, or object classes that are not known. Values of all fields are validated. Unknown object classes that start with *xx are silently ignored, as these are harmless artefacts from certain legacy IRRd versions.

In addition, the following validation changes to primary/lookup keys apply in non-strict mode:

  • RPSL names are allowed to contain reserved prefixes (e.g. RS-FOO as a maintainer name) and can be reserved words.

  • In names for sets (route-set, as-set, etc.) reserved words, reserved words are allowed, and there is no requirement that at least one component starts with the actual prefix (RS-, AS-, etc.), so “AS123” or “FOOBAR” are accepted.

Non-strict mode is used for mirroring, because a significant number of objects are not RFC-compliant, and some IRRs add custom fields to their databases. So with non-strict mode, IRRd accepts a notify attribute that does not contain a valid e-mail address. for example. However, primary and look-up keys need to be indexed, and therefore valid, as otherwise IRRd would give incomplete responses to queries.

In all modes, values like prefixes are rewritten into a standard format. If this results in changes compared to the original submitted text, the parser will emit info messages, which are included in e.g. a report sent to the submitter of a requested change.

Other changes from RFCs:

  • Trailing commas are permitted in lists, e.g. members: AS1, AS2,. These are used on some occasions, and harmless to permit.

  • RFC 2622 speaks of “sequence of ASCII characters” for free-form data. IRRd allows UTF-8 characters.

  • In non-strict mode, nic-hdl attributes, and attributes that refer to them (admin-c, tech-c, zone-c) are allowed to contain any valid string, instead of being limited to an RPSL object name.

  • Hierarchical objects, like as-set names, are limited to five components.

  • IRRd does not accept prefixes with host bits set. RFCs are unclear on whether these are allowed.

Modifications to objects

There are a few cases where IRRd makes changes to the object text.


The rpki-ov-state attribute, which is used to indicate the RPKI validation status, is always discarded from all incoming objects. Where relevant, it is added to the output of queries. This applies to authoritative and non-authoritative sources.

key-cert objects

In key-cert objects, the fingerpr and owner attributes are updated to values extracted from the PGP key. The method attribute is always set to PGP. This applies to objects from authoritative sources and sources for which strict_import_keycert_objects is set.


For authoritative objects, the last-modified attribute is set when the object is created or updated. Any existing last-modified values are discarded. This timestamp is not updated for changes in RPKI validation status. This attribute is visible over NRTM and in exports.

By default, this attribute is only added when an object is changed or created. If you have upgraded to IRRd 4.1, you can use the irrd_set_last_modified_auth command to set it on all existing authoritative objects. This may take in the order of 10 minutes, depending on the number of objects to be updated. This only needs to be done once. It is safe to execute while other IRRd processes are running. Journal entries are not created when running this command, i.e. the bulk updates to last-modified are not visible over NRTM until the object is updated for a different reason.