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Registering Message Header Fields

This page answers frequently asked questions about registering message header fields in the Permanent or Provisional registry.

The registry is defined and constituted by RFC 3864

NOTE: This page is a work-in-progress draft.

Who can register a message header field?

Normally, a header field is registered by the person, group or organization responsible for its specification, but a registration may be requested by any person if the specification author has not done so.

What are the requirements for registering a message header field?

These are set out in RFC 3864, outlined in section 2.1 and detailed in section 4.

For registration as a permanent header field, the field must be designed and published through a recognized open standard process; e.g. as a standard-track IETF RFC, or equivalent from other recognized open standards bodies.

For registration as a provisional header field, the main requirement is that it has a citable and publicly accessible specification, be defined in a way that is acceptable for use with the relevant protocols, and not clash with any registered permanent header field. Submitters are encouraged to seek and respond to review, but this is not a requirement for provisional registration.

Where should I send my request to register a message header field?

Submitters are encouraged (but not required for provisional registration) to send a request for review to the public discussion list at ietf-message-headers@ietf.org.

To formally request registration, send a copy of the template to iana@iana.org.

What happens next?

IANA will request the designated expert to confirm that the conditions for registration are satisfied. The designated expert should indicate whether or not registration will proceed, usually within a week. If there is an impediment to registration, the designated expert should indicate what that is so the submitter can make appropriate adjustments and resubmit the request, should they so choose.

Note that it is not the reviewers role to allow or deny registration on technical grounds, but to ensure appropriate procedures have been followed. The reviewer's response should be aimed at guiding the submitter to completing an acceptable registration.

Who should I contact if I'm not happy with a response to my request?

If you feel the decision does not adequately reflect the documented requirements, in the first instance, contact IANA (preferably by replying to the email indicating their decision), indicating why you feel the decision is wrong. (IANA will normally pass any such comments to the designated expert who may respond or amend their decision.

If this approach does not yield a mutually acceptable conclusion, the matter may be raised with the IESG application area directors.

Who has the final say about any registration request?

The final arbiter of any registration decision is the IESG.

What do I do if I think there is an error in a registration?

Initially, send an email to ietf-message-headers@ietf.org pointing out the error.

If there is consensus that this is an error, then either the specification author, or someone else (e.g. the person noticing the error) may request an update to the registration (see next FAQ).

How do I update a registration?

Any person, but preferably the indicated change controller for the header field, may prepare a revised registration template. In the first instance, this is preferably sent to ietf-message-headers@ietf.org for review.

Following any review, the revised registration template should be sent to iana@iana.org, which will be reviewed in similar fashion to the original registration. If the request comes from someone other than the designated change controller for the header field concerned, the review process will expect to see an appropriate level of evidence and/or consensus for the change.

Can I add a comment to a registration?

There is currently no formal mechanism for adding comments to a registration.