Managing objects in the APNIC Whois Database

APNIC Whois objects can be created, updated or deleted by sending an email to

Tips when sending emails


You can use keywords when sending email to to modify the response you receive from the database. The keywords are not case sensitive and should be used in the email subject line.

Keyword Description
NEW Ensures that the database only accepts an object if it is not already in the database. For example, use this if you are registering an inetnum object to prevent overriding any existing inetnum object with the same address range.
HELP Returns links to web pages with information on how to update objects in the database.

Note: If you include this keyword in an email that includes an object you wish to be submitted to the database, the database software will ignore the object and simply reply to you with the web page links.

HOW TO Returns the same information as “help”.


Receiving acknowledgement messages

You should always receive an acknowledgement message when submitting objects to the database. If you do not receive an acknowledgement:

  • Your email address is unknown and the acknowledgement mail bounced. Please check that your address is correct.
  • Your email address is correct and your update arrived during a database maintenance window. Please wait a couple of hours for the database to respond to your submission or refer to the APNIC maintenance schedule.
  • If neither of these situations apply, please contact for assistance.

All objects sent to are parsed. The acknowledgement message will tell you if your submitted objects were successfully parsed and entered in the database:

  • If your submission was error free, the acknowledgement will put ‘SUCCEEDED:’ in the subject line and in the body of the email it will state: ‘YOUR UPDATE WAS SUCCESSFUL’.
  • The Database will reject any deviations from accepted object formats. The acknowledgement will include ‘FAILED:’ in the subject line and in the body of the email, it will state: ‘part of your update FAILED’.

The acknowledgement will then list errors found in the object submission. All errors must be rectified before the object will be accepted.

NOTE: The database will ignore any text that does not comply with the standard object format.

attribute-name: attribute-value

For example, if you include your signature, the database will ignore the signature and process the objects in the rest of the email. However, if you include text in your email that uses a colon ‘:’, the database will try to read it as an object and produce a ‘FAILED’ result.

It is also important to note that a ‘FAILED’ message in the acknowledgement subject line does not necessarily mean every object in the email update has failed. Please read the acknowledgement message carefully to see which items have failed and which items have been successfully submitted.

Correcting errors

Syntax and invalid attribute value errors are sent to the email address the object was submitted from. Authorization errors are also sent to the email address associated with the maintainer in the mnt-by attribute.

Below is a list of errors you may receive when submitting objects to the database:

Messages to the email address that submitted the object

Error message Description
Authorization failed, request forwarded to maintainer. You failed to meet the authentication method specified in the auth attribute of the mntner object protecting the object.

The owner of the mntner object will receive notification that a failed object update was submitted from your email address. Please contact the maintainer of the object to check auth method you must use.

Hierarchical authorization failed, request forwarded to maintainer You failed to meet the authentication method specified for a mntner of an overlapping object or an object governing the creation of more specific objects.

This error can occur when you try to create new inetnum, inet6num, route, and reverse domain objects that overlap with the range of existing objects of the same type.

If you are registering an assignment or sub-allocation and receive this error, it could mean that you have attempted to create an inetnum or inet6num object that overlaps with existing objects in the database. Please check the range of your object before resubmitting.

If you are attempting to create a route object, it may mean that you have failed the auth method of the maintainers of the inetnum and aut-num objects governing the creation of route objects that reference them.

Status ALLOCATED PORTABLE or ASSIGNED PORTABLE can be set only by the following mntner(s):


You tried to change the status attribute of an inetnum or inet6num object to portable address space.

Only APNIC and the NIRs have the authorization to allocate portable address space to networks. If you are assigning or sub-allocating address space to customer networks, the space must be returned to you if that customer ceases connectivity with you. Therefore, the resource can only be non-portable.

Object already exists You submitted an object to the database that already exists and included the keyword NEW in the subject line.

The keyword NEW ensures that only new objects can be submitted to the database. If the object already exists in the database, that is, it has the same primary key(s), the submission will be rejected.

To update the existing object, remove the keyword NEW from the subject line. To create a totally new object, first delete the existing object from the database.

First attribute, “<bad-attribute>”, is not a known RPSL class You misspelled the first attribute tag of the object or omitted the first tag entirely. Please check the first attribute of your object and resubmit.
Primary key “<primary-key>” is missing You omitted an attribute that is a primary key for the object.

The primary key uniquely identifies an object from all other similar objects in the database. Please add the primary key specified in the error message in your next submission.

Required attribute “<attribute-name>” is missing You submitted an object without a mandatory attribute.

All mandatory attributes must be included. Only attributes marked optional may be omitted. Please add the attribute specified in the error message in your next submission.

Attribute “<attribute-name>” appears more than once You included more than one instance of an attribute that can only appear once in the object.

Please remove all but one of the instances of the attribute specified in your next submission.

Name of a person or role object cannot be changed You changed the person or role attribute.

The person and role attributes are primary keys for the object and therefore cannot be changed. If you wish to change the details of a person or role attribute, you will need to delete the existing person or role object and then create new one with the updated details.

mntner objects cannot be created automatically. This object has been forwarded to for authorization. No further action on your part is required You changed the mntner attribute.

The mntner attribute is the primary key for the object and cannot be changed. The database assumes you are trying to create a new maintainer. However, as maintainers can only be created by APNIC Hostmasters, your attempt to change the object failed.

If you wish to change the details of a mntner attribute, you will need to delete the existing maintainer object and then submit a new one with the updated details to

Syntax error in ‘<invalid-attribute-value>’ You used invalid syntax for the attribute value.

Different attributes values have different syntax. Please check the syntax needed for the attribute specified before resubmitting this object.

No such source You did not specify APNIC in the source attribute.

No other source values will be accepted. Please check that you have not mistyped APNIC.

No such country [<country>] You have not specified a two-letter country code from the ISO 3166 specification.

NOTE: While not an ISO 3166 standard, the two-letter code, AP (Asia Pacific), is also accepted by the database.

Date in the future in ‘changed’ attribute: <future-date> You submitted an object with a future date in the changed attribute.

APNIC recommends that you do not include the date when adding a new changed attribute to an object. Please delete the date, and the database will add the current day’s date to the attribute for you.

Alternatively, please change the date to the current date and resubmit.

Unknown object referenced In one of the object’s attributes, you specified an object that does not exist in the APNIC Whois Database.

If you referred to an object that exists in a database other than the APNIC Whois Database, the submission will automatically fail. You cannot refer to a NIC-handle or maintainer registered in another database. Please create the appropriate object in the APNIC Whois Database.

Please check that you have not mistyped the name of an object that exists in the APNIC Whois Database.

The following paragraph does not look like an object, so ignoring it: You may have included your signature in the email. The database ignores anything that does not conform to the object structure:

<attribute-name>: <attribute-value>

You do not need to resubmit objects in your submission unless there are additional errors specified for those objects.

Messages to notify contacts

Message Description
This is to notify you that some object(s) in the APNIC whois which you either maintain or are listed as to-be-notified have been added, deleted or changed.

The update causing these changes had the following mail headers:

Notifies the email address of the object’s maintainer or email address listed in the notify attribute of any changes to the object. A copy of the previous and updated objects will be included in the email.
This is to notify you that some objects in which you are mentioned as a maintainer were requested to be changed, but *failed* the proper authorization for any of the mentioned maintainers.

Please contact the sender of these changes about changes that need to be made to the following objects.

The mail message causing these failures had the following mail headers:


Notifies the maintainer that there has been an attempt to update an object in which the maintainer is listed in the mnt-by attribute.

The attempt to update the object failed the authorization method specified in the maintainer object’s auth attribute.

A copy of this will be sent to the maintainer. A similar error message will also be sent to the email address of the person who tried to update the object.

NOTE: if you have attempted to update an inetnum representing an allocation by APNIC, it will automatically fail; this message will be forwarded to APNIC Hostmasters, who maintain all allocation objects in the database. Please contact APNIC to request changes to your allocation details.

SUBJECT: APNIC Whois Database: Addition of overlapping routes

The addition of the route object …

created new overlaps with your following routes …

Notifies the maintainer of a route that a more specific route has been created within the prefix of the larger route object. Alternatively, a route object was created that overlaps an existing route.