Network Working Group J. Postel
Request for Comments: 792 ISI
Updates: RFCs 777, 760
Updates: IENs 109, 128
INTERNET CONTROL MESSAGE PROTOCOL
DARPA INTERNET PROGRAM
The Internet Protocol (IP)  is used for host-to-host datagram
service in a system of interconnected networks called the
Catenet . 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
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
Length of internet header and data in octets.
Identification, Flags, Fragment Offset
Used in fragmentation, see .
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
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
The address of the gateway or host that composes the ICMP message.
Unless otherwise noted, this can be any of a gateway's addresses.
The address of the gateway or host to which the message should be
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 |