AWS Credentials

The Serverless Framework needs access to your cloud provider account so that it can create and manage resources on your behalf.

This guide is for the Amazon Web Services (AWS) provider, so we'll step through the process of setting up credentials for AWS and using them with Serverless.

Sign up for an AWS account

If you already have an AWS account, skip to the next step to create an IAM User and Access Key

To create an AWS account:

  1. Open, and then choose Create an AWS Account.
  2. Follow the online instructions.
  • Part of the sign-up procedure involves receiving a phone call and entering a PIN using the phone keypad.

Note your AWS account ID, because you'll need it for the next task.

All AWS users get access to the Free Tier for AWS Lambda. AWS Lambda is part of the non-expiring AWS Free Tier. While in the AWS Free Tier, you can build an entire application on AWS Lambda, AWS API Gateway, and more, without getting charged for one year or longer, in some cases, as long as you don't exceed the resources in the free tier.

If you're new to Amazon Web Services, make sure you put in a credit card. If you don't have a credit card set up, you may not be able to deploy your resources and you may run into this error:

AWS Access Key Id needs a subscription for the service

Create an IAM User and Access Key

Now that you have an AWS account, you need to configure AWS credentials so that serverless can deploy to AWS. You can:

  • either use Serverless Dashboard to manage AWS credentials,
  • or create AWS access keys and configure them on your machine.

Use Serverless Dashboard to manage AWS credentials

Serverless Dashboard lets you manage AWS credentials with Serverless Framework.

How it works: Serverless Dashboard uses an AWS Access Role to access your AWS account. Then, it creates temporary AWS access keys to authenticate the serverless CLI on every command.

The Serverless Framework leverages AWS Security Token Service and the AssumeRole API to automate the creation and usage of temporary credentials (which expire after one hour).

To get started with Serverless Dashboard, either run serverless in an existing project or follow this documentation.

Creating AWS Access Keys

If you do not wish to use Serverless Dashboard, then you need to configure the Serverless Framework CLI to use AWS access keys.

Watch the video guide on setting up credentials

Follow these steps to create new AWS access keys:

  1. Login to your AWS account and go to the Identity & Access Management (IAM) page.

  2. Click on Users and then Add user. Enter a name in the first field to remind you this user is related to the Serverless Framework, like serverless-admin. Enable Programmatic access by clicking the checkbox. Click Next to go through to the Permissions page. Click on Attach existing policies directly. Search for and select AdministratorAccess then click Next: Review. Check to make sure everything looks good and click Create user.

  3. View and copy the API Key & Secret to a temporary place. These are your AWS access keys.

Note that the above steps grant Serverless Framework administrative access to your account. While this makes things simple when starting out, we recommend that you create and use more fine-grained permissions once you determine the scope of your serverless applications and move them into production.

To limit the Serverless Framework’s access your AWS account, follow these steps to create an IAM User and attach a custom JSON file policy to your new IAM User. This IAM User will have its own set of AWS Access Keys.

  1. Login to your AWS Account and go to the Identity & Access Management (IAM) page.

  2. Click on Users and then Add user. Enter a name in the first field to remind you this User is related to the Service you are deploying with the Serverless Framework, like serverless-servicename-agent. Enable Programmatic access by clicking the checkbox. Click Next to go through to the Permissions page. Click on Create policy. Select the JSON tab, and add a JSON file. You can use this gist as a guide.

When you are finished, select Review policy. You can assign this policy a Name and Description, then choose Create Policy. Check to make sure everything looks good and click Create user. Later, you can create different IAM Users for different apps and different stages of those apps. That is, if you don't use separate AWS accounts for stages/apps, which is most common.

  1. View and copy the API Key & Secret to a temporary place. These are your AWS access keys.

Using AWS Access Keys

You can configure the Serverless Framework to use your AWS access keys in two ways:

Quick Setup

As a quick setup to get started you can export them as environment variables so they would be accessible to Serverless and the AWS SDK in your shell:

export AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID=<your-key-here>
export AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY=<your-secret-key-here>
# AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID and AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY are now available for serverless to use
serverless deploy

# 'export' command is valid only for unix shells
# In Windows use 'set' instead of 'export'

Please note: If you are using a self-signed certificate you'll need to do one of the following:

# String example:
# if using the 'ca' variable, your certificate contents should replace the newline character with '\n'
export ca="-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----...-----END CERTIFICATE-----"
# or multiple, comma separated
export ca="-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----...-----END CERTIFICATE-----,-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----...-----END CERTIFICATE-----"

# File example:
# if using the 'cafile' variable, your certificate contents should not contain '\n'
export cafile="/path/to/cafile.pem"
# or multiple, comma separated
export cafile="/path/to/cafile1.pem,/path/to/cafile2.pem"

# 'export' command is valid only for unix shells
# In Windows use 'set' instead of 'export'

Using AWS Profiles

For a more permanent solution you can also set up credentials through AWS profiles. Here are different methods you can use to do so.

Setup with serverless config credentials command

Serverless provides a convenient way to configure AWS profiles with the help of the serverless config credentials command.

Here's an example how you can configure the default AWS profile:

serverless config credentials \
  --provider aws \

Take a look at the config CLI reference for more information about credential configuration.

Setup with the aws-cli

To set them up through the aws-cli install it first then run aws configure to configure the aws-cli and credentials:

$ aws configure
AWS Secret Access Key [None]: wJalrXUtnFEMI/K7MDENG/bPxRfiCYEXAMPLEKEY
Default region name [None]: us-west-2
Default output format [None]: ENTER

Credentials are stored in INI format in ~/.aws/credentials, which you can edit directly if needed. You can change the path to the credentials file via the AWS_SHARED_CREDENTIALS_FILE environment variable. Read more about that file in the AWS documentation

You can even set up different profiles for different accounts, which can be used by Serverless as well. To specify a default profile to use, you can add a profile setting to your provider configuration in serverless.yml:

service: new-service
  name: aws
  runtime: nodejs14.x
  stage: dev
  profile: devProfile
Use an existing AWS Profile

To easily switch between projects without the need to do aws configure every time you can use environment variables. For example you define different profiles in ~/.aws/credentials



Now you can switch per project (/ API) by executing once when you start your project:

export AWS_PROFILE="profileName2".

in the Terminal. Now everything is set to execute all the serverless CLI options like sls deploy.

Using the aws-profile option

You can always specify the profile which should be used via the aws-profile option like this:

serverless deploy --aws-profile devProfile
Using web identity token

To use web identity token authentication the AWS_WEB_IDENTITY_TOKEN_FILE and AWS_ROLE_ARN environment need to be set. It is automatically set if you specify a service account in AWS EKS.

Per Stage Profiles

As an advanced use-case, you can deploy different stages to different accounts by using different profiles per stage. In order to use different profiles per stage, you must leverage variables and the provider profile setting.

This example serverless.yml snippet will load the profile depending upon the stage specified in the command line options (or default to 'dev' if unspecified);

service: new-service
  name: aws
  runtime: nodejs14.x
  profile: ${self:custom.profiles.${sls:stage}}
    dev: devProfile
    prod: prodProfile

Profile in place with the 'invoke local' command

Be aware! Due to the way AWS IAM and the local environment works, if you invoke your lambda functions locally using the CLI command serverless invoke local -f ... the IAM role/profile could be (and probably is) different from the one set in the serverless.yml configuration file. Thus, most likely, a different set of permissions will be in place, altering the interaction between your lambda functions and other AWS resources.

Please, refer to the invoke local CLI command documentation for more details.

Assuming a role when deploying

It is possible to use local AWS credentials to assume another AWS role.

That allows the deployment (and all other CLI commands) to be performed under a different role. To achieve this, follow this documentation from AWS.

Note that serverless.yml also offers the provider.iam.deploymentRole option. This lets us force CloudFormation to use a different role when deploying:

    deploymentRole: arn:aws:iam::123456789012:role/deploy-role

It is important to understand that deploymentRole only affects the role CloudFormation will assume. All other interactions from the serverless CLI with AWS will not use that deploymentRole.

This is why we usually recommend using the "assume role" method described above instead of deploymentRole.

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