Notice: Over the next few months, we're reorganizing the App Engine documentation site to make it easier to find content and better align with the rest of Google Cloud products. The same content will be available, but the navigation will now match the rest of the Cloud products. If you have feedback or questions as you navigate the site, click Send Feedback.

Python 2 is no longer supported by the community. We recommend that you migrate Python 2 apps to Python 3.

URL Fetch for legacy bundled services

Stay organized with collections Save and categorize content based on your preferences.

This page describes how App Engine applications use the URL Fetch service to issue HTTP and HTTPS requests and receive responses. To see code samples demonstrating how to issue HTTP and HTTPS requests from your App Engine application, see Issuing HTTP(S) Requests.

If you have set up Serverless VPC Access or if you use the Sockets API, you need to stop URL Fetch from handling requests. URL Fetch causes requests to your VPC network or to the Sockets API to fail. After you disable URL Fetch, the standard Python library will handle HTTP requests. If you need the features provided by URL Fetch for specific requests, you can use the urlfetch library directly for those specific requests.


App Engine uses the URL Fetch service to issue outbound requests. In Python, you can use the httplib, urllib, and urllib2 libraries to make HTTP requests; in an App Engine application, each library will perform these requests by using the URL Fetch service. You can also use the urlfetch library directly.

Request protocols

An application can fetch a URL using either HTTP or HTTPS. The protocol that should be used is inferred by looking at the protocol in the target URL.

The URL to be fetched can use any port number in the following ranges:

  • 80-90
  • 440-450
  • 1024-65535.

If the port is not mentioned in the URL, the port is implied by the protocol. HTTP requests occur on port 80, and HTTPS requests occur on port 443.

Request methods

If you issue requests through the URL Fetch service, you can use any of the following HTTP methods:

  • GET
  • POST
  • PUT
  • HEAD

A request can include HTTP headers and, for POST, PUT, and PATCH requests, a payload.

Request proxying

Note that the URL Fetch service uses an HTTP/1.1 compliant proxy to fetch the result.

To prevent an application from causing an endless recursion of requests, a request handler is not allowed to fetch its own URL. It is still possible to cause an endless recursion with other means, so exercise caution if your application can be made to fetch requests for URLs supplied by the user.

Request headers

Your application can set HTTP headers for the outgoing request.

When sending an HTTP POST request, if a Content-Type header is not set explicitly, the header is set to x-www-form-urlencoded. This is the content type used by web forms.

For security reasons, the following headers cannot be modified by the application:

  • Content-Length
  • Host
  • Vary
  • Via
  • X-Appengine-Inbound-Appid
  • X-Forwarded-For
  • X-ProxyUser-IP

These headers are set to accurate values by App Engine as appropriate. For example, App Engine calculates the Content-Length header from the request data and adds it to the request prior to sending.

The following headers indicate the application ID of the requesting app:

  • User-Agent. This header can be modified, but App Engine will append an identifier string to allow servers to identify App Engine requests. The appended string has the format "AppEngine-Google; (+; appid: APPID)", where APPID is your app's identifier.
  • X-Appengine-Inbound-Appid. This header cannot be modified, and is added automatically if the request is sent via the URL Fetch service when the follow redirects parameter is set to False.

Request timeouts

You can set a deadline, or timeout, for a request. By default, the timeout for a request is 10 seconds.

You can send synchronous requests and asynchronous requests. The following behavior applies to the URL Fetch API:

  • Synchronous requests: The fetch call waits until the remote host returns a result, and then returns control to the application. If the maximum wait time for the fetch call is exceeded, the call raises an exception.
  • Asynchronous requests: The URL Fetch service starts the request, then returns immediately with an object. The application can perform other tasks while the URL is being fetched. When the application needs the results, it calls a method on the object, which waits for the request to finish if necessary, then returns the result. If any URL Fetch requests are pending when the request handler exits, the application server waits for all remaining requests to either return or reach their deadline before returning a response to the user.

Secure connections and HTTPS

Your application can fetch a URL securely by using HTTPS to connect to secure servers. Request and response data are transmitted over the network in encrypted form.

In the Python API, the URL Fetch proxy does not validate the host it is contacting by default. You can add an optional validate_certificate argument to the fetch() method to enable host validation.


If you use the URL Fetch API, note that the URL Fetch service returns all response data, including the response, code, headers, and body.

By default, if the URL Fetch service receives a response with a redirect code, the service will follow the redirect. The service will follow up to five redirect responses, then return the final resource. You can instruct the URL Fetch service to not follow redirects and instead return a redirect response to the application.

Using URL Fetch on the development server

When your application is running on the App Engine development server on your computer, calls to the URL Fetch service are handled locally. The development server fetches URLs by contacting remote hosts directly from your computer, using whatever network configuration your computer is using to access the Internet.

When testing the features of your application that fetch URLs, make sure that your computer can access the remote hosts.

Quotas and limits for URL Fetch

For information about URL Fetch service quotas, see Quotas. To see the current quota usage of your application, go to the Quota Details page in the Google Cloud console.

Go to the Quota Details page

In addition, the following limits apply to the use of the URL Fetch service:

Limit Amount
Request size 10 megabytes
Request header size 16 KB (Note that this limits the maximum length of the URL that can be specified in the header)
Response size 32 megabytes

What's next

Run code samples and get guidance on how to issue requests from your application in Issuing HTTP(S) Requests.