Allow List middleware

Last updated: 3 minutes read.

The Allow List middleware is a feature designed to restrict access to only specific API endpoints. It rejects requests to endpoints not specifically “allowed”, returning HTTP 403 Forbidden. This enhances the security of the API by preventing unauthorised access to endpoints that are not explicitly permitted.

Note that this is not the same as Tyk’s IP allow list feature, which is used to restrict access to APIs based upon the IP of the requestor.

When to use the allow list

Restricting access to private endpoints

If you have a service that exposes endpoints or supports methods that you do not want to be available to clients, you should use the allow list to perform strict restriction to a subset of methods and paths. If the allow list is not enabled, requests to endpoints that are not explicitly defined in Tyk will be proxied to the upstream service and may lead to unexpected behaviour.

How the allow list works

Tyk Gateway does not actually maintain a list of allowed endpoints but rather works on the model whereby if the allow list middleware is added to an endpoint then this will automatically block all other endpoints.

Tyk Gateway will subsequently return HTTP 403 Forbidden to any requested endpoint that doesn’t have the allow list middleware enabled, even if the endpoint is defined and configured in the API definition.


If you enable the allow list feature by adding the middleware to any endpoint, ensure that you also add the middleware to any other endpoint for which you wish to accept requests.

Case sensitivity

By default the allow list is case-sensitive, so for example if you have defined the endpoint GET /userID in your API definition then only calls to GET /userID will be allowed: calls to GET /UserID or GET /userid will be rejected. You can configure the middleware to be case-insensitive at the endpoint level.

You can also set case sensitivity for the entire gateway in the Gateway configuration file tyk.conf. If case insensitivity is configured at the gateway level, this will override the endpoint-level setting.

Endpoint parsing

When you define an endpoint in your API Definition (for example GET /anything), Tyk will also match for GET /anything/somepath and any other sub-path based on the GET /anything route.

You will typically configure the allow list middleware to restrict access to only specific paths, so you may not want Tyk to match GET /anything/somepath.

If you add a $ at the end of the listen_path (in our example GET /anything$) then Tyk’s regular expression matching will be exact, and will not match endpoints with characters following the specified endpoint.

Thus, if you enable the middleware for GET /anything$ then GET /anything/somepath will be blocked unless explicitly added to the API definition with the allow list middleware enabled for that endpoint.

If you’re using Tyk OAS APIs, then you can find details and examples of how to configure the allow list middleware here.

If you’re using Tyk Classic APIs, then you can find details and examples of how to configure the allow list middleware here.