Internet Control Message Protocol
RFC 792

Document Type RFC - Internet Standard (September 1981; Errata)
Obsoletes RFC 777
Last updated 2020-07-29
Stream Legacy
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IESG IESG state RFC 792 (Internet Standard)
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Network Working Group                                          J. Postel
Request for Comments:  792                                           ISI
                                                          September 1981
Updates:  RFCs 777, 760
Updates:  IENs 109, 128


                         DARPA INTERNET PROGRAM
                         PROTOCOL SPECIFICATION


   The Internet Protocol (IP) [1] is used for host-to-host datagram
   service in a system of interconnected networks called the
   Catenet [2].  The network connecting devices are called Gateways.
   These gateways communicate between themselves for control purposes
   via a Gateway to Gateway Protocol (GGP) [3,4].  Occasionally a
   gateway or destination host will communicate with a source host, for
   example, to report an error in datagram processing.  For such
   purposes this protocol, the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP),
   is used.  ICMP, uses the basic support of IP as if it were a higher
   level protocol, however, ICMP is actually an integral part of IP, and
   must be implemented by every IP module.

   ICMP messages are sent in several situations:  for example, when a
   datagram cannot reach its destination, when the gateway does not have
   the buffering capacity to forward a datagram, and when the gateway
   can direct the host to send traffic on a shorter route.

   The Internet Protocol is not designed to be absolutely reliable.  The
   purpose of these control messages is to provide feedback about
   problems in the communication environment, not to make IP reliable.
   There are still no guarantees that a datagram will be delivered or a
   control message will be returned.  Some datagrams may still be
   undelivered without any report of their loss.  The higher level
   protocols that use IP must implement their own reliability procedures
   if reliable communication is required.

   The ICMP messages typically report errors in the processing of
   datagrams.  To avoid the infinite regress of messages about messages
   etc., no ICMP messages are sent about ICMP messages.  Also ICMP
   messages are only sent about errors in handling fragment zero of
   fragemented datagrams.  (Fragment zero has the fragment offeset equal

                                                                [Page 1]

                                                          September 1981
RFC 792

Message Formats

   ICMP messages are sent using the basic IP header.  The first octet of
   the data portion of the datagram is a ICMP type field; the value of
   this field determines the format of the remaining data.  Any field
   labeled "unused" is reserved for later extensions and must be zero
   when sent, but receivers should not use these fields (except to
   include them in the checksum).  Unless otherwise noted under the
   individual format descriptions, the values of the internet header
   fields are as follows:




      Internet header length in 32-bit words.

   Type of Service


   Total Length

      Length of internet header and data in octets.

   Identification, Flags, Fragment Offset

      Used in fragmentation, see [1].

   Time to Live

      Time to live in seconds; as this field is decremented at each
      machine in which the datagram is processed, the value in this
      field should be at least as great as the number of gateways which
      this datagram will traverse.


      ICMP = 1

   Header Checksum

      The 16 bit one's complement of the one's complement sum of all 16
      bit words in the header.  For computing the checksum, the checksum
      field should be zero.  This checksum may be replaced in the

[Page 2]                                                                

September 1981                                                          
RFC 792

   Source Address

      The address of the gateway or host that composes the ICMP message.
      Unless otherwise noted, this can be any of a gateway's addresses.

   Destination Address

      The address of the gateway or host to which the message should be

                                                                [Page 3]

                                                          September 1981
RFC 792

Destination Unreachable Message

    0                   1                   2                   3
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
   |     Type      |     Code      |          Checksum             |
   |                             unused                            |
   |      Internet Header + 64 bits of Original Data Datagram      |
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