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How to use Cloudflare SSL Origin Certificates with Nginx

cloudflare origin ssl certificate


    With Cloudflare, you can generate an origin certificate, it’s a free TLS certificate signed by Cloudflare and you can install it on your web server to secure connection between your server and the Cloudflare proxy servers. The main feature of Cloudflare origin certificates is the certificate validity, which can be set to up to 15 years, and the ability to include all your subdomains with a wildcard *

    Create your origin certificate

    At first, go into your Cloudflare dashboard and in the section Crypto, click on create a certificate.

    create origin tls certificate

    If you have already generated a CSR (Certificate Signing Request) and a private key, you can copy your CSR content to generate your Cloudflare Origin certificate, otherwise you can let Cloudflare generate a private key for you and click on next to generate your certificate. We recommend you to choose an ECDSA private key rather than RSA, because ECDSA provide better performance and encryption level than RSA.

    Screenshot 29
    ECDSA Private Key Cloudflare

    After you click on the button next, Cloudflare will display your private key and your origin certificate.

    Make sure to save your private key before closing your web browser tab because Cloudflare will not display it anymore.

    Screenshot 30
    Cloudflare Origin certificate ECDSA

    Create a new file yourdomain-tld-key.pem and copy the content of your private key inside this file, then create another file yourdomain-tld-cert.pem and copy the content of your origin certificate inside this file. To store your private key and your origin certificate, you can create a folder in /etc/nginx. In our example, we have put our certificate and our private key in /etc/nginx/ssl.

    Add Cloudflare Root certificates authorities (optional)

    This step is optional because Nginx will not attempt to validate the chain of your Origin CA certificate, it will only check if there is no error in your SSL certificate and in your private key.

    To add Cloudflare Root certificates authorities to your Origin certificate, you have to download them from Cloudflare website and to merge your origin certificate with the root certificate.
    You can download Cloudflare root certificate with the following command :

    # For RSA private keys
    wget -O cloudflare_root.pem
    # For ECDSA private keys
    wget -O cloudflare_root.pem

    To merge your origin certificate and the Cloudflare Root certifcate, you can use the command cat :

    cat yourdomain-tld-cert.pem cloudflare_root.pem > yourdomain-tld-cert.pem

    Install your origin certificate with Nginx

    Your origin certificate can now be installed with Nginx. To do so, you have to edit your Nginx vhost (or to create a file ssl.conf in /var/www/yourdomain.tld/conf/nginx if your server is running with EasyEngine) and to add SSL/TLS configuration by following this example :

        listen 443 ssl http2;
        listen [::]:443 ssl http2;
        ssl on;
        ssl_certificate     /etc/nginx/ssl/yourdomain-tld-cert.pem;
        ssl_certificate_key    /etc/nginx/ssl/yourdomain-tld-key.pem;

    If your server is running with Nginx 1.15.0 or a newer release, you can remove the line ssl on;

    Reload your nginx configuration with nginx -t && service nginx reload
    Your Cloudflare origin certificate is now installed on your server, so you can change the SSL settings to “Full (strict)” in your Cloudflare dashboard.

    Cloudflare “Full (Strict)” SSL Level

    If you want to force redirection from http to https, you can enable the options “Always use HTTPS” and “Automatic HTTPS Rewrites” using your Cloudflare dashboard.

    Cloudflare HTTPS Settings
    Cloudflare HTTPS Settings

    otherwise you can create a file force-ssl-yourdomain.conf into /etc/nginx/conf.d/ with the following content :

    server {
        listen 80;
        listen [::]:80;
        return 301$request_uri;

    in Nginx