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An implementation of JSON Web Tokens.

This was developed against draft-ietf-oauth-json-web-token-08. It makes use of node-jws


$ npm install jsonwebtoken

Migration notes


jwt.sign(payload, secretOrPrivateKey, [options, callback])

(Asynchronous) If a callback is supplied, the callback is called with the err or the JWT.

(Synchronous) Returns the JsonWebToken as string

payload could be an object literal, buffer or string. Please note that exp is only set if the payload is an object literal.

secretOrPrivateKey is a string, buffer, or object containing either the secret for HMAC algorithms or the PEM encoded private key for RSA and ECDSA. In case of a private key with passphrase an object { key, passphrase } can be used (based on crypto documentation), in this case be sure you pass the algorithm option.


  • algorithm (default: HS256)
  • expiresIn: expressed in seconds or a string describing a time span zeit/ms. Eg: 60, "2 days", "10h", "7d"
  • notBefore: expressed in seconds or a string describing a time span zeit/ms. Eg: 60, "2 days", "10h", "7d"
  • audience
  • issuer
  • jwtid
  • subject
  • noTimestamp
  • header
  • keyid

If payload is not a buffer or a string, it will be coerced into a string using JSON.stringify.

There are no default values for expiresIn, notBefore, audience, subject, issuer. These claims can also be provided in the payload directly with exp, nbf, aud, sub and iss respectively, but you can't include in both places.

Remember that exp, nbf and iat are NumericDate, see related Token Expiration (exp claim)

The header can be customized via the options.header object.

Generated jwts will include an iat (issued at) claim by default unless noTimestamp is specified. If iat is inserted in the payload, it will be used instead of the real timestamp for calculating other things like exp given a timespan in options.expiresIn.


// sign with default (HMAC SHA256)
var jwt = require('jsonwebtoken');
var token = jwt.sign({ foo: 'bar' }, 'shhhhh');
//backdate a jwt 30 seconds
var older_token = jwt.sign({ foo: 'bar', iat: Math.floor( / 1000) - 30 }, 'shhhhh');
// sign with RSA SHA256
var cert = fs.readFileSync('private.key');  // get private key
var token = jwt.sign({ foo: 'bar' }, cert, { algorithm: 'RS256'});
// sign asynchronously
jwt.sign({ foo: 'bar' }, cert, { algorithm: 'RS256' }, function(err, token) {

Token Expiration (exp claim)

The standard for JWT defines an exp claim for expiration. The expiration is represented as a NumericDate:

A JSON numeric value representing the number of seconds from 1970-01-01T00:00:00Z UTC until the specified UTC date/time, ignoring leap seconds. This is equivalent to the IEEE Std 1003.1, 2013 Edition [POSIX.1] definition "Seconds Since the Epoch", in which each day is accounted for by exactly 86400 seconds, other than that non-integer values can be represented. See RFC 3339 [RFC3339] for details regarding date/times in general and UTC in particular.

This means that the exp field should contain the number of seconds since the epoch.

Signing a token with 1 hour of expiration:

  exp: Math.floor( / 1000) + (60 * 60),
  data: 'foobar'
}, 'secret');

Another way to generate a token like this with this library is:

  data: 'foobar'
}, 'secret', { expiresIn: 60 * 60 });
//or even better:
  data: 'foobar'
}, 'secret', { expiresIn: '1h' });

jwt.verify(token, secretOrPublicKey, [options, callback])

(Asynchronous) If a callback is supplied, function acts asynchronously. The callback is called with the decoded payload if the signature is valid and optional expiration, audience, or issuer are valid. If not, it will be called with the error.

(Synchronous) If a callback is not supplied, function acts synchronously. Returns the payload decoded if the signature is valid and optional expiration, audience, or issuer are valid. If not, it will throw the error.

token is the JsonWebToken string

secretOrPublicKey is a string or buffer containing either the secret for HMAC algorithms, or the PEM encoded public key for RSA and ECDSA.

As mentioned in this comment, there are other libraries that expect base64 encoded secrets (random bytes encoded using base64), if that is your case you can pass Buffer.from(secret, 'base64'), by doing this the secret will be decoded using base64 and the token verification will use the original random bytes.


  • algorithms: List of strings with the names of the allowed algorithms. For instance, ["HS256", "HS384"].
  • audience: if you want to check audience (aud), provide a value here. The audience can be checked against a string, a regular expression or a list of strings and/or regular expressions. Eg: "urn:foo", /urn:f[o]{2}/, [/urn:f[o]{2}/, "urn:bar"]
  • issuer (optional): string or array of strings of valid values for the iss field.
  • ignoreExpiration: if true do not validate the expiration of the token.
  • ignoreNotBefore...
  • subject: if you want to check subject (sub), provide a value here
  • clockTolerance: number of seconds to tolerate when checking the nbf and exp claims, to deal with small clock differences among different servers
  • maxAge: the maximum allowed age for tokens to still be valid. It is expressed in seconds or a string describing a time span zeit/ms. Eg: 1000, "2 days", "10h", "7d".
  • clockTimestamp: the time in seconds that should be used as the current time for all necessary comparisons.
// verify a token symmetric - synchronous
var decoded = jwt.verify(token, 'shhhhh');
console.log( // bar
// verify a token symmetric
jwt.verify(token, 'shhhhh', function(err, decoded) {
  console.log( // bar
// invalid token - synchronous
try {
  var decoded = jwt.verify(token, 'wrong-secret');
} catch(err) {
  // err
// invalid token
jwt.verify(token, 'wrong-secret', function(err, decoded) {
  // err
  // decoded undefined
// verify a token asymmetric
var cert = fs.readFileSync('public.pem');  // get public key
jwt.verify(token, cert, function(err, decoded) {
  console.log( // bar
// verify audience
var cert = fs.readFileSync('public.pem');  // get public key
jwt.verify(token, cert, { audience: 'urn:foo' }, function(err, decoded) {
  // if audience mismatch, err == invalid audience
// verify issuer
var cert = fs.readFileSync('public.pem');  // get public key
jwt.verify(token, cert, { audience: 'urn:foo', issuer: 'urn:issuer' }, function(err, decoded) {
  // if issuer mismatch, err == invalid issuer
// verify jwt id
var cert = fs.readFileSync('public.pem');  // get public key
jwt.verify(token, cert, { audience: 'urn:foo', issuer: 'urn:issuer', jwtid: 'jwtid' }, function(err, decoded) {
  // if jwt id mismatch, err == invalid jwt id
// verify subject
var cert = fs.readFileSync('public.pem');  // get public key
jwt.verify(token, cert, { audience: 'urn:foo', issuer: 'urn:issuer', jwtid: 'jwtid', subject: 'subject' }, function(err, decoded) {
  // if subject mismatch, err == invalid subject
// alg mismatch
var cert = fs.readFileSync('public.pem'); // get public key
jwt.verify(token, cert, { algorithms: ['RS256'] }, function (err, payload) {
  // if token alg != RS256,  err == invalid signature

jwt.decode(token [, options])

(Synchronous) Returns the decoded payload without verifying if the signature is valid.

Warning: This will not verify whether the signature is valid. You should not use this for untrusted messages. You most likely want to use jwt.verify instead.

token is the JsonWebToken string


  • json: force JSON.parse on the payload even if the header doesn't contain "typ":"JWT".
  • complete: return an object with the decoded payload and header.


// get the decoded payload ignoring signature, no secretOrPrivateKey needed
var decoded = jwt.decode(token);
// get the decoded payload and header
var decoded = jwt.decode(token, {complete: true});

Errors & Codes

Possible thrown errors during verification. Error is the first argument of the verification callback.


Thrown error if the token is expired.

Error object:

  • name: 'TokenExpiredError'
  • message: 'jwt expired'
  • expiredAt: [ExpDate]
jwt.verify(token, 'shhhhh', function(err, decoded) {
  if (err) {
      err = {
        name: 'TokenExpiredError',
        message: 'jwt expired',
        expiredAt: 1408621000


Error object:

  • name: 'JsonWebTokenError'
  • message:
    • 'jwt malformed'
    • 'jwt signature is required'
    • 'invalid signature'
    • 'jwt audience invalid. expected: [OPTIONS AUDIENCE]'
    • 'jwt issuer invalid. expected: [OPTIONS ISSUER]'
    • 'jwt id invalid. expected: [OPTIONS JWT ID]'
    • 'jwt subject invalid. expected: [OPTIONS SUBJECT]'
jwt.verify(token, 'shhhhh', function(err, decoded) {
  if (err) {
      err = {
        name: 'JsonWebTokenError',
        message: 'jwt malformed'

Algorithms supported

Array of supported algorithms. The following algorithms are currently supported.

alg Parameter Value Digital Signature or MAC Algorithm
HS256 HMAC using SHA-256 hash algorithm
HS384 HMAC using SHA-384 hash algorithm
HS512 HMAC using SHA-512 hash algorithm
RS256 RSASSA using SHA-256 hash algorithm
RS384 RSASSA using SHA-384 hash algorithm
RS512 RSASSA using SHA-512 hash algorithm
ES256 ECDSA using P-256 curve and SHA-256 hash algorithm
ES384 ECDSA using P-384 curve and SHA-384 hash algorithm
ES512 ECDSA using P-521 curve and SHA-512 hash algorithm
none No digital signature or MAC value included

Refreshing JWTs

First of all, we recommend to think carefully if auto-refreshing a JWT will not introduce any vulnerability in your system.

We are not comfortable including this as part of the library, however, you can take a look to this example to show how this could be accomplish. Apart from that example there are an issue and a pull request to get more knowledge about this topic.


  • X.509 certificate chain is not checked

Issue Reporting

If you have found a bug or if you have a feature request, please report them at this repository issues section. Please do not report security vulnerabilities on the public GitHub issue tracker. The Responsible Disclosure Program details the procedure for disclosing security issues.




This project is licensed under the MIT license. See the LICENSE file for more info.