GetSessionToken - AWS Security Token Service


Returns a set of temporary credentials for an AWS account or IAM user. The credentials consist of an access key ID, a secret access key, and a security token. Typically, you use GetSessionToken if you want to use MFA to protect programmatic calls to specific AWS API operations like Amazon EC2 StopInstances.

MFA-enabled IAM users must call GetSessionToken and submit an MFA code that is associated with their MFA device. Using the temporary security credentials that the call returns, IAM users can then make programmatic calls to API operations that require MFA authentication. An incorrect MFA code causes the API to return an access denied error. For a comparison of GetSessionToken with the other API operations that produce temporary credentials, see Requesting Temporary Security Credentials and Comparing the AWS STS API operations in the IAM User Guide.


No permissions are required for users to perform this operation. The purpose of the sts:GetSessionToken operation is to authenticate the user using MFA. You cannot use policies to control authentication operations. For more information, see Permissions for GetSessionToken in the IAM User Guide.

Session Duration

The GetSessionToken operation must be called by using the long-term AWS security credentials of an IAM user. Credentials that are created by IAM users are valid for the duration that you specify. This duration can range from 900 seconds (15 minutes) up to a maximum of 129,600 seconds (36 hours), with a default of 43,200 seconds (12 hours). Credentials based on account credentials can range from 900 seconds (15 minutes) up to 3,600 seconds (1 hour), with a default of 1 hour.


The temporary security credentials created by GetSessionToken can be used to make API calls to any AWS service with the following exceptions:

  • You cannot call any IAM API operations unless MFA authentication information is included in the request.

  • You cannot call any AWS STS API except AssumeRole or GetCallerIdentity.

The credentials that GetSessionToken returns are based on permissions associated with the IAM user whose credentials were used to call the operation. The temporary credentials have the same permissions as the IAM user.


Although it is possible to call GetSessionToken using the security credentials of an AWS account root user rather than an IAM user, we do not recommend it. If GetSessionToken is called using root user credentials, the temporary credentials have root user permissions. For more information, see Safeguard your root user credentials and don't use them for everyday tasks in the IAM User Guide

For more information about using GetSessionToken to create temporary credentials, see Temporary Credentials for Users in Untrusted Environments in the IAM User Guide.

Request Parameters

For information about the parameters that are common to all actions, see Common Parameters.


The duration, in seconds, that the credentials should remain valid. Acceptable durations for IAM user sessions range from 900 seconds (15 minutes) to 129,600 seconds (36 hours), with 43,200 seconds (12 hours) as the default. Sessions for AWS account owners are restricted to a maximum of 3,600 seconds (one hour). If the duration is longer than one hour, the session for AWS account owners defaults to one hour.

Type: Integer

Valid Range: Minimum value of 900. Maximum value of 129600.

Required: No


The identification number of the MFA device that is associated with the IAM user who is making the GetSessionToken call. Specify this value if the IAM user has a policy that requires MFA authentication. The value is either the serial number for a hardware device (such as GAHT12345678) or an Amazon Resource Name (ARN) for a virtual device (such as arn:aws:iam::123456789012:mfa/user). You can find the device for an IAM user by going to the AWS Management Console and viewing the user's security credentials.

The regex used to validate this parameter is a string of characters consisting of upper- and lower-case alphanumeric characters with no spaces. You can also include underscores or any of the following characters: =,.@:/-

Type: String

Length Constraints: Minimum length of 9. Maximum length of 256.

Pattern: [\w+=/:,.@-]*

Required: No


The value provided by the MFA device, if MFA is required. If any policy requires the IAM user to submit an MFA code, specify this value. If MFA authentication is required, the user must provide a code when requesting a set of temporary security credentials. A user who fails to provide the code receives an "access denied" response when requesting resources that require MFA authentication.

The format for this parameter, as described by its regex pattern, is a sequence of six numeric digits.

Type: String

Length Constraints: Fixed length of 6.

Pattern: [\d]*

Required: No

Response Elements

The following element is returned by the service.


The temporary security credentials, which include an access key ID, a secret access key, and a security (or session) token.


The size of the security token that AWS STS API operations return is not fixed. We strongly recommend that you make no assumptions about the maximum size.

Type: Credentials object


For information about the errors that are common to all actions, see Common Errors.


AWS STS is not activated in the requested region for the account that is being asked to generate credentials. The account administrator must use the IAM console to activate AWS STS in that region. For more information, see Activating and Deactivating AWS STS in an AWS Region in the IAM User Guide.

HTTP Status Code: 403



This example illustrates one usage of GetSessionToken.

Sample Request ?Version=2011-06-15 &Action=GetSessionToken &DurationSeconds=3600 &Tags.member.1.Key=Project &Tags.member.1.Value=Unicorn &Tags.member.2.Key=Cost-Center &Tags.member.2.Value=12345 &SerialNumber=YourMFADeviceSerialNumber &TokenCode=123456 &AUTHPARAMS

Sample Response

<GetSessionTokenResponse xmlns=""> <GetSessionTokenResult> <Credentials> <SessionToken> AQoEXAMPLEH4aoAH0gNCAPyJxz4BlCFFxWNE1OPTgk5TthT+FvwqnKwRcOIfrRh3c/L To6UDdyJwOOvEVPvLXCrrrUtdnniCEXAMPLE/IvU1dYUg2RVAJBanLiHb4IgRmpRV3z rkuWJOgQs8IZZaIv2BXIa2R4OlgkBN9bkUDNCJiBeb/AXlzBBko7b15fjrBs2+cTQtp Z3CYWFXG8C5zqx37wnOE49mRl/+OtkIKGO7fAE </SessionToken> <SecretAccessKey> wJalrXUtnFEMI/K7MDENG/bPxRfiCYzEXAMPLEKEY </SecretAccessKey> <Expiration>2011-07-11T19:55:29.611Z</Expiration> <AccessKeyId>ASIAIOSFODNN7EXAMPLE</AccessKeyId> </Credentials> </GetSessionTokenResult> <ResponseMetadata> <RequestId>58c5dbae-abef-11e0-8cfe-09039844ac7d</RequestId> </ResponseMetadata> </GetSessionTokenResponse>

See Also

For more information about using this API in one of the language-specific AWS SDKs, see the following: