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How do I get Autonomous System Numbers?

Updated: Oct 20, 2023


Obtaining an Autonomous System Number (ASN) is a necessary step for organizations seeking to manage their internet routing effectively. To get an ASN, you need to follow specific procedures outlined by your Regional Internet Registry (RIR). Here, we will explore the general steps on how to request an ASN. Please keep in mind though that the process may vary slightly for your specific RIR.


Understanding Autonomous System Numbers (ASNs)

An Autonomous System Number (ASN) is a unique numerical identifier used to define a set of routing rules that differ from those of other network peers.

In simple terms, an autonomous system is a group of networks. You can think of your home or office network as one part of a bigger autonomous system. The Internet is a huge place, so subdividing that massive network into smaller ones makes the whole Internet function smoothly and efficiently.

ISPs rely on ASNs to control how data travels through their networks and to exchange routing information with other ISPs. A public ASN is essential for an autonomous system to share routing information with two or more autonomous systems on the global Internet.


Types of ASNs

There are two types of ASNs: 2-byte and 4-byte. Similar to the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 addresses, 4-byte ASNs were introduced to accommodate the growing demands of the expanding Internet.


Historical Background

In the past, ASNs were subject to verification requirements, such as contracts and usage policies. However, in 2016, following discussions at RIR Public Policy Meetings, these requirements were relaxed to streamline the process. The changes included the exhaustion of the global 2-byte ASN pool, the introduction of a global 4-byte ASN pool, and the elimination of differentiation between the two types. IPv4 policies played a pivotal role in shaping these changes.


How to Get an Autonomous System Number (ASN)

Obtaining an ASN is now simpler. Organizations can qualify by either specifying the names and ASNs of two upstream ISPs they intend to use for multi-homing or by describing a unique routing policy.

Unlike before, you no longer need to provide copies of contracts or invoices. While the previous 30-day usage requirement has been removed, you will still need to provide a projected date of usage. This streamlined process ensures quicker ASN allocation to organizations in need.


Steps to request an ASN from your RIR:

  1. Submit your request through your RIR's online portal.

  2. A member of Registration Services will review your request and respond if there are any questions.

  3. If your request is approved, you will receive an invoice and a Registration Services Agreement (RSA), if applicable.

  4. Once you make the payment and sign the RSA, your ASN assignment will be completed.


Closing Thoughts

Topics surrounding the Internet, such as ASNs and IP addresses can be confusing. Even more so, the policies and by-laws that define Internet governance.

The Number Resource Society (NRS) sheds light on confusing and vague topics, particularly around Internet governance. Join NRS today to learn more about these issues that matter to you. After all, we are one world connected by one Internet.

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