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Bridging interoperability

Bridged interfaces are different from normal interfaces, thus there are a few features that are incompatible with bridging and others where additional considerations are necessary to accommodate bridging. This section covers features that work differently with bridging than with non-bridged interfaces.

Captive portal

Captive portal (Captive Portal) is not compatible with transparent bridging because it requires an IP address on the interface being bridged, used to serve the portal contents, and that IP address must be the gateway for clients. This means that it is not possible, for example, to bridge LAN and WAN and hope to capture clients with the portal.

This can work when bridging multiple local interfaces to all route through pfSense® (e.g. LAN1, LAN2, LAN3, etc). It will work if the bridge interface is assigned, the bridge interface has an IP address, and that IP address is used as the gateway by clients on the bridge. See Swapping Interface Assignments for a procedure to place the IP address on an assigned bridge interface.

High Availability

High availability (High Availability) is not recommended with bridging. Some users have had mixed success with combining the two in the past but great care must be taken to handle layer 2 loops, which are unavoidable in a HA+bridge scenario. When two network segments are bridged, they are in effect merged into one larger network, as discussed earlier in this chapter. When HA is added into the mix, that means there will be two paths between the switches for each respective interface, creating a loop.

Managed switches can handle this with Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) but unmanaged switches have no defenses against looping. Left unchecked, a loop will bring a network to its knees and make it impossible to pass any traffic. STP may be configured on bridges to help, though there may still be unexpected results.

Consult switch documentation for information on STP configuration. Configure the switch to give preference to the port(s) on the primary node.


Transparent bridging by its nature is incompatible with multi-WAN in many of its uses. When using bridging between a WAN and LAN/OPT interface, commonly something other than pfSense will be the default gateway for the hosts on the bridged interface, and that router is the only device that can direct traffic from those hosts. This doesn’t prevent multi-WAN from being used with other interfaces on the same firewall that are not bridged, it only impacts the hosts on bridged interfaces where they use something other than pfSense as their default gateway. If multiple internal interfaces are bridged together and pfSense is the default gateway for the hosts on the bridged interfaces, then multi-WAN can be used the same as with non-bridged interfaces.


For limiters to function with bridging, the bridge itself must be assigned and the bridge interface must have the IP address and not a member interface.

LAN NAT and Transparent Proxies

For port forwards on LAN, or transparent proxies which use port forwards on LAN to capture traffic, to function in a bridge scenario, the situation is the same as Captive Portal: It will only function for LAN bridges and not WAN/LAN bridges, the IP address must be on the assigned bridge interface, and that IP address must be used as the gateway for local clients.

This means that a package such as Squid cannot work in a transparent firewall scenario where LAN is bridged to a WAN.

Mixing Bridged and NAT Segments

For hosts behind the NAT/routed segment, NAT must occur as traffic exits toward the bridged systems so that the return traffic will come back to the firewall.

For hosts on the bridged segment to reach hosts behind the NAT segment directly, a static route could be used on the bridged hosts or upstream gateway to send the “private” subnet traffic to the IP address of the firewall in the bridged network.