Rate Limits

Let’s Encrypt enforces rate limitations when using the production validation system, such as:

  • Each certificate may have at most 100 SAN entries
  • Only 20 certificates may be created per domain per week

A testing validation system exists for those who are programming clients or testing their procedures. The test system does not have rate limits, but also does not produce certificates which are trusted publicly.

Security Limitations

When validating using a method such as webroot or standalone the service must be available to the Internet on its standard port: 80 for HTTP. This is a security limitation to prevent a user from running an alternate web server on a high- numbered port and obtaining a certificate for a server they do not normally control.

Warning

In the past, ACME supported validation using TLS on port 443, but inherent limitations in that process made it insecure, so Let’s Encrypt has deprecated that method.

Validation Process

When creating a certificate, one or more fully qualified domain names (FQDNs) are listed on the certificate in the SAN list. Let’s Encrypt will query each of these domain names in DNS in different ways depending on the validation method.

When a validation method starts, the client obtains an authorization value from the server (authz).

For DNS-based methods, Let’s Encrypt checks for a TXT record in the form of _acme-challenge.<domain name> which must contain the authorization value. This proves that the person or system requesting the certificate controls DNS records for the domain.

For File-based methods such as webroot or standalone, Let’s Encrypt connects to an IP address obtained by resolving the A record for the FQDN and requests a file from the web server at .well-known/acme-challenge/ underneath the webroot directory. This file contains the authorization value. This proves that the person or system requesting the certificate controls web server for the domain name.