Renew a Certificate

This guide describes how to renew existing certificates.

Certificates issues by Let’s Encrypt are valid for a period of 90 days. To avoid certificate errors, you need to ensure that you renew your certificate before it expires.

In order to renew a certificate, follow the general instructions laid out under Obtain a Certificate, and replace lego ... run with lego ... renew. Note that the renew sub-command supports a slightly different set of some command line flags.

Using the built-in web server

By default, and following best practices, a certificate is only renewed if its expiry date is less than 30 days in the future.

lego --email="" --domains="" --http renew

If the certificate needs to renewed earlier, you can specify the number of remaining days:

lego --email="" --domains="" --http renew --days 45

Using a DNS provider

If you can’t or don’t want to start a web server, you need to use a DNS provider. lego comes with support for many providers, and you need to pick the one where your domain’s DNS settings are set up. Typically, this is the registrar where you bought the domain, but in some cases this can be another third-party provider.

For this example, let’s assume you have set up CloudFlare for your domain.

Execute this command:

CLOUDFLARE_API_KEY="yourprivatecloudflareapikey" \
lego --email "" --dns cloudflare --domains "" renew

Running a script afterward

You can easily hook into the certificate-obtaining process by providing the path to a script. The hook is executed only when the certificates are effectively renewed.

lego --email="" --domains="" --http renew --renew-hook="./"

Some information is provided through environment variables:

  • LEGO_ACCOUNT_EMAIL: the email of the account.
  • LEGO_CERT_DOMAIN: the main domain of the certificate.
  • LEGO_CERT_PATH: the path of the certificate.
  • LEGO_CERT_KEY_PATH: the path of the certificate key.
  • LEGO_CERT_PEM_PATH: (only with --pem) the path to the PEM certificate.
  • LEGO_CERT_PFX_PATH: (only with --pfx) the path to the PFX certificate.

See Obtain a Certificate → Use case for an example script.

Automatic renewal

It is tempting to create a cron job (or systemd timer) to automatically renew all you certificates.

When doing so, please note that some cron defaults will cause measurable load on the ACME provider’s infrastructure. Notably @daily jobs run at midnight.

To both counteract load spikes (caused by all lego users) and reduce subsequent renewal failures, we were asked to implement a small random delay for non-interactive renewals.1 Since v4.8.0, lego will pause for up to 8 minutes to help spread the load.

You can help further, by adjusting your crontab entry, like so:

# avoid:
#@daily      /usr/bin/lego ... renew
#@midnight   /usr/bin/lego ... renew
#0 0 * * *   /usr/bin/lego ... renew

# instead, use a randomly chosen time:
35 3 * * *  /usr/bin/lego ... renew

If you use systemd timers, consider doing something similar, and/or introduce a RandomizedDelaySec:

Description=Renew certificates

# avoid:
#OnCalendar=*-*-* 00:00:00

# instead, use a randomly chosen time:
OnCalendar=*-*-* 3:35
# add extra delay, here up to 1 hour:


  1. See GitHub issue #1656 for an excellent problem description. ↩︎