Express behind proxies

When running an Express app behind a reverse proxy, some of the Express APIs may return different values than expected. In order to adjust for this, the trust proxy application setting may be used to expose information provided by the reverse proxy in the Express APIs. The most common issue is express APIs that expose the client’s IP address may instead show an internal IP address of the reverse proxy.

When configuring the trust proxy setting, it is important to understand the exact setup of the reverse proxy. Since this setting will trust values provided in the request, it is important that the combination of the setting in Express matches how the reverse proxy operates.

The application setting trust proxy may be set to one of the values listed in the following table.

Type Value

If true, the client’s IP address is understood as the left-most entry in the X-Forwarded-For header.

If false, the app is understood as directly facing the client and the client’s IP address is derived from req.socket.remoteAddress. This is the default setting.

When setting to true, it is important to ensure that the last reverse proxy trusted is removing/overwriting all of the following HTTP headers: X-Forwarded-For, X-Forwarded-Host, and X-Forwarded-Proto otherwise it may be possible for the client to provide any value.

IP addresses

An IP address, subnet, or an array of IP addresses and subnets to trust as being a reverse proxy. The following list shows the pre-configured subnet names:

  • loopback -, ::1/128
  • linklocal -, fe80::/10
  • uniquelocal -,,, fc00::/7

You can set IP addresses in any of the following ways:

app.set('trust proxy', 'loopback') // specify a single subnet
app.set('trust proxy', 'loopback,') // specify a subnet and an address
app.set('trust proxy', 'loopback, linklocal, uniquelocal') // specify multiple subnets as CSV
app.set('trust proxy', ['loopback', 'linklocal', 'uniquelocal']) // specify multiple subnets as an array

When specified, the IP addresses or the subnets are excluded from the address determination process, and the untrusted IP address nearest to the application server is determined as the client’s IP address. This works by checking if req.socket.remoteAddress is trusted. If so, then each address in X-Forwarded-For is checked from right to left until the first non-trusted address.


Use the address that is at most n number of hops away from the Express application. req.socket.remoteAddress is the first hop, and the rest are looked for in the X-Forwarded-For header from right to left. A value of 0 means that the first untrusted address would be req.socket.remoteAddress, i.e. there is no reverse proxy.

When using this setting, it is important to ensure there are not multiple, different-length paths to the Express application such that the client can be less than the configured number of hops away, otherwise it may be possible for the client to provide any value.


Custom trust implementation.

app.set('trust proxy', (ip) => {
  if (ip === '' || ip === '') return true // trusted IPs
  else return false

Enabling trust proxy will have the following impact:

  • The value of req.hostname is derived from the value set in the X-Forwarded-Host header, which can be set by the client or by the proxy.

  • X-Forwarded-Proto can be set by the reverse proxy to tell the app whether it is https or http or even an invalid name. This value is reflected by req.protocol.

  • The req.ip and req.ips values are populated based on the socket address and X-Forwarded-For header, starting at the first untrusted address.

The trust proxy setting is implemented using the proxy-addr package. For more information, see its documentation.

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