AWS Organizations
User Guide

Service Control Policy Syntax

Service control policies (SCPs) use a similar syntax to that used by IAM permission policies and resource-based policies (like Amazon S3 bucket policies). For more information about IAM policies and their syntax, see Overview of IAM Policies in the IAM User Guide.

An SCP is a plaintext file that is structured according to the rules of JSON. It uses the elements that are described in this section.


All characters that you type count against the size limit of your SCP. The examples in this guide show the SCPs formatted with extra white space to improve their readability. However, to save space if your policy size approaches the limit, you can delete any white space, such as space characters and line breaks that are outside quotation marks.

For general information about how SCPs work, see About Service Control Policies.

Version Element

Every SCP must include a Version element with the value "2012-10-17". This is the same version value as the most recent version of IAM permission policies:

"Version": "2012-10-17",

Statement Element

An SCP consists of one or more Statement elements. You can have only one Statement keyword in a policy, but the value can be a JSON array of statements (surrounded by [ ] characters).

The following example shows a single statement that consists of single Effect, Action, and Resource elements:

"Statement": { "Effect": "Allow", "Action": "*", "Resource": "*" }

The following example includes two statements as an array list inside one Statement element. The first statement allows all actions, while the second denies any EC2 actions. The end result is that an administrator in the account can delegate any permission except those from EC2:

"Statement": [ { "Effect": "Allow", "Action": "*", "Resource": "*" }, { "Effect": "Deny", "Action": "ec2:*", "Resource": "*" } ]

Effect Element

Each statement must contain one Effect element. The value can be either Allow or Deny. It affects any actions listed in the same statement.

The following example shows an SCP with a statement that contains an Effect with a value of Allow that permits account users to perform actions for the Amazon S3 service. This example is useful in an organization where the default FullAWSAccess policies are all detached so that permissions are implicitly denied by default. The end result is that it whitelists the Amazon S3 permissions for any attached accounts:

{ "Version": "2012-10-17", "Statement": { "Effect": "Allow", "Action": "s3:*" } }

Note that even though it uses the same Allow value keyword as an IAM permission policy, in an SCP it doesn't actually grant a user permissions to do anything. Remember that an SCP is a filter that restricts what permissions can be used in an attached account. In the preceding example, even if a user in the account had the AdministratorAccess managed policy attached, the SCP limits all users in the account to only Amazon S3 actions.

Action Element

Each statement must contain one Action element. The value is a list (a JSON array) of strings that identify AWS services and actions that are allowed or denied by the statement.

Each string consists of the abbreviation for the service (such as "s3", "ec2", "iam", or "organizations"), in all lowercase, followed by a colon and then an action from that service. The actions are case-sensitive, and must be typed as shown in each service's documentation. Generally, they are all typed with each word starting with an uppercase letter and the rest lowercase. For example: "s3:ListAllMyBuckets".

You also can use an asterisk as a wildcard to match multiple actions that share part of a name. The value "s3:*" means all actions in the Amazon S3 service. The value "ec2:Describe*" matches only the EC2 actions that begin with "Describe".


In an SCP, the wildcard (*) character in an Action element can be used only by itself or at the end of the string. It can't appear at the beginning or middle of the string. Therefore, "servicename:action*" is valid, but "servicename:*action" and "servicename:some*action" are both invalid in SCPs.

The examples in the preceding sections show simple Action elements that use wildcards to enable an entire service. The following example shows an SCP with a statement that permits account administrators to delegate describe, start, stop, and terminate permissions for EC2 instances in the account. This is another example of a whitelist, and is useful when the default Allow * policies are not attached so that, by default, permissions are implicitly denied. If the default Allow * policy is still attached to the root, OU, or account to which the following policy is attached, the policy has no effect:

{ "Version": "2012-10-17", "Statement": { "Effect": "Allow", "Action": [ "ec2:DescribeInstances", "ec2:DescribeImages", "ec2:DescribeKeyPairs", "ec2:DescribeSecurityGroups", "ec2:DescribeAvailabilityZones", "ec2:RunInstances", "ec2:TerminateInstances", "ec2:StopInstances", "ec2:StartInstances" ], "Resource": "*" } }

The following example shows how you can blacklist services that you don't want used in attached accounts. It assumes that the default "Allow *" SCPs are still attached to all OUs and the root. This example policy prevents the account administrators in attached accounts from delegating any permissions for the IAM, Amazon EC2, and Amazon RDS services. Any action from other services can be delegated as long as there isn't another attached policy that denies them:

{ "Version": "2012-10-17", "Statement": { "Effect": "Deny", "Action": [ "iam:*", "ec2:*", "rds:*" ], "Resource": "*" } }


SCPs do not support the NotAction element available for IAM permission policies.

For a list of all the services and the actions that they support in both AWS Organizations SCPs and IAM permission policies, see AWS Service Actions and Condition Context Keys for Use in IAM Policies in the IAM User Guide.

Resource Element

You can specify only "*" in the Resource element of an SCP. You can't specify individual resource Amazon Resource Names (ARNs).

Principal Element

You cannot specify a Principal element in an SCP.

Condition Element

You cannot specify a Condition element in an SCP.