Refreshing a Token

Access tokens have finite lifetimes. If a client needs long-lived access to a resource, refresh tokens can be used to request a new access token. This can be done with an API call and does not require any user interaction or interruption.

Since this is a privileged operation, the clients needs to be explicitly authorized to be able to use refresh tokens by setting the AllowOfflineAccess property to true. See the client reference section for additional refresh token related settings.

Refresh tokens are supported for the following flows: authorization code, hybrid and resource owner password credential flow.

Requesting a refresh token

You can request a refresh token by adding a scope called offline_access to the scope parameter list of the authorize request.

Requesting an access token using a refresh token

To get a new access token, you send the refresh token to the token endpoint. This will result in a new token response containing a new access token and its expiration and potentially also a new refresh token depending on the client configuration (see rotation).

POST /connect/token


.NET client library

On .NET you can leverage the IdentityModel client library to request refresh tokens, e.g.:

using IdentityModel.Client;

var client = new HttpClient();

var response = await client.RequestRefreshTokenAsync(new RefreshTokenRequest
    Address = TokenEndpoint,

    ClientId = "client",
    ClientSecret = "secret",

    RefreshToken = "..."

The Duende.AccessTokenManagement library can be used to automate refresh & access token lifetime management in ASP.NET Core.

Refresh token security considerations

Refresh tokens are a high-value target for attackers, because they typically have a much higher lifetime than access tokens.

It is recommended that a refresh token is either bound to the client via a client secret (for confidential/credentialed clients), or rotated for public clients.

The following techniques can be used to reduce the attack surface of refresh tokens.

We encourage you to request consent when a client requests a refresh token, as it not only makes the user aware of the action being taken, but also provides them with an opportunity to opt-out if they choose.

Duende IdentityServer will always ask for consent (if enabled) if the client asks for the offline_access scope which follows the recommendations in the OpenID Connect specification.

Sliding expiration

Refresh tokens usually have a much longer lifetime than access tokens. You can reduce their exposure by adding a sliding lifetime on top of the absolute lifetime. This allows for scenarios where a refresh token can be silently used if the user is regularly using the client, but needs a fresh authorize request if the client has not been used for a certain time. In other words, they auto-expire much quicker without potentially interfering with the typical usage pattern.

You can use the AbsoluteRefreshTokenLifetime and SlidingRefreshTokenLifetime client settings to fine tune this behavior.


The security of refresh tokens used by public clients can be improved by rotating the tokens on every use, because there is a chance that a stolen token will be unusable by the attacker. If a token is exfiltrated from some storage mechanism, a network trace, or log file, but the owner of the token uses it before the attacker, then the attack fails. However, this comes at the cost of reliability and database pressure and is only necessary for public clients (see below). Rotation is configured with the RefreshTokenUsage client setting and, beginning in IdentityServer v7.0, is disabled by default.

When RefreshTokenUsage is configured for OneTime usage, rotation is enabled and refresh tokens can only be used once. When refresh tokens are used with OneTime usage configured, a new refresh token is included in the response along with the new access token. Each time the client application uses the refresh token, it must use the most recent refresh token. This chain of tokens will each appear as distinct token values to the client, but will have identical creation and expiration timestamps in the datastore.

Beginning in version 6.3, the configuration option DeleteOneTimeOnlyRefreshTokensOnUse controls what happens to refresh tokens configured for OneTime usage. If the flag is on, then refresh tokens are deleted immediately on use. If the flag is off, the token is marked as consumed instead. Prior to version 6.3, OneTime usage refresh tokens are always marked as consumed.

Confidential Clients Should Not Rotate Refresh Tokens

Confidential clients do not need one-time use refresh tokens because their tokens are bound to the authenticated client. One-time use tokens do not improve the security of confidential clients (see OAuth 2.0 Security Best Current Practice for more details).

Reusable refresh tokens are robust to network failures in a way that one time use tokens are not. If a one-time use refresh token is used to produce a new token, but the response containing the new refresh token is lost due to a network issue, the client application has no way to recover without the user logging in again. Reusable refresh tokens do not have this problem.

Reusable tokens may have better performance in the persisted grants store. One-time use refresh tokens require additional records to be written to the store whenever a token is refreshed. Using reusable refresh tokens avoids those writes.

Accepting Consumed Tokens

To make one time use tokens more robust to network failures, you can customize the behavior of the RefreshTokenService such that consumed tokens can be used under certain circumstances, perhaps for a small length of time after they are consumed. To do so, create a subclass of the DefaultRefreshTokenService and override its AcceptConsumedTokenAsync(RefreshToken refreshToken) method. This method takes a consumed refresh token and returns a boolean flag that indicates if that token should be accepted, that is, allowed to be used to obtain an access token. The default implementation in the DefaultRefreshTokenService rejects all consumed tokens, but your customized implementation could create a time window where consumed tokens can be used.

New options added In 6.3 interact with this feature. The PersistentGrantOptions.DeleteOneTimeOnlyRefreshTokensOnUse flag will cause OneTime refresh tokens to be deleted on use, rather than marked as consumed. This flag will need to be disabled in order to allow a customized Refresh Token Service to use consumed tokens.

Consumed tokens can be cleaned up by a background process, enabled with the existing OperationalStoreOptions.EnableTokenCleanup and OperationalStoreOptions.RemoveConsumedTokens flags. Starting in 6.3, the cleanup job can be further configured with the OperationalStoreOptions.ConsumedTokenCleanupDelay. This delay is the amount of time that must elapse before tokens marked as consumed will be deleted. If you are customizing the Refresh Token Service to allow for consumed tokens to be used for some period of time, then we recommend configuring the ConsumedTokenCleanupDelay to the same time period.

This customization must be registered in the DI system as an implementation of the IRefreshTokenService:

builder.Services.TryAddTransient<IRefreshTokenService, YourCustomRefreshTokenService>();

Replay detection

In addition to one-time only usage semantics, you might wish to add replay detection for refresh tokens. If a refresh token is configured for one-time only use but used multiple times, that means that either the client application is accidentally mis-using the token (a bug), a network failure is preventing the client application from rotating properly (see above), or an attacker is attempting a replay attack. Depending on your security requirements, you might decide to treat this situation as an attack, and take action. What you might do is, if a consumed refresh token is ever used, revoke all access for that client/user combination. This could include deleting refresh tokens, revoking access tokens (if they are introspection tokens), ending the user’s server side session, and sending back-channel logout notifications to client applications. You might also consider alerting the user to suspicious activity on their account. Keep in mind that these actions are disruptive and possibly alarming to the user, and there is a potential for false positives.

Implementing replay detection is similar to accepting consumed tokens. Extend the AcceptConsumedTokenAsync method of the DefaultRefreshTokenService and add the additional revocation or alerting behavior that you choose. In 6.3, the same new options that interact with accepting consumed tokens also interact with replay detection. The PersistentGrantOptions.DeleteOneTimeOnlyRefreshTokensOnUse flag needs to be disabled so that used tokens persist and can be used to detect replays. The cleanup job should also be configured to not delete consumed tokens.

See also: The IRefreshTokenService reference.