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Internet Control Message Protocol for IPv6
Communication protocol
General structure of ICMPv6 Messages
PurposeAuxiliary Protocol for IPv6
IntroductionDecember 1995; 28 years ago (1995-12)
OSI layerNetwork layer
RFC(s)RFC 4443

Internet Control Message Protocol version 6 (ICMPv6) is the implementation of the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) for Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).[1] ICMPv6 is an integral part of IPv6 and performs error reporting and diagnostic functions.

ICMPv6 has a framework for extensions to implement new features. Several extensions have been published, defining new ICMPv6 message types as well as new options for existing ICMPv6 message types. For example, Neighbor Discovery Protocol (NDP) is a node discovery protocol based on ICMPv6 which replaces and enhances functions of ARP.[2] Secure Neighbor Discovery (SEND) is an extension of NDP with extra security. Multicast Listener Discovery (MLD) is used by IPv6 routers for discovering multicast listeners on a directly attached link, much like Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) is used in IPv4. Multicast Router Discovery (MRD) allows the discovery of multicast routers.

Message types and formats[edit]

ICMPv6 messages may be classified as error messages and information messages. ICMPv6 messages are transported by IPv6 packets in which the IPv6 Next Header value for ICMPv6 is set to the value 58.

The ICMPv6 message consists of a header and the protocol payload. The header contains only three fields: type (8 bits), code (8 bits), and checksum (16 bits). type specifies the type of the message. Values in the range from 0 to 127 (high-order bit is 0) indicate an error message, while values in the range from 128 to 255 (high-order bit is 1) indicate an information message. The code field value depends on the message type and provides an additional level of message granularity. The checksum field provides a minimal level of integrity verification for the ICMP message.

ICMPv6 packet
Bit offset 0–7 8–15 16–31
0 Type Code Checksum
32 Message body


Control messages are identified by the value in the type field. The code field gives additional context information for the message. Some messages serve the same purpose as the correspondingly named ICMP message types.

Type Code
Value Meaning Value Meaning
ICMPv6 Error Messages
1 Destination unreachable 0 no route to destination
1 communication with destination administratively prohibited
2 beyond scope of source address
3 address unreachable
4 port unreachable
5 source address failed ingress/egress policy
6 reject route to destination
7 Error in Source Routing Header
2 Packet too big 0
3 Time exceeded 0 hop limit exceeded in transit
1 fragment reassembly time exceeded
4 Parameter problem 0 erroneous header field encountered
1 unrecognized Next Header type encountered
2 unrecognized IPv6 option encountered
100 Private experimentation
101 Private experimentation
127 Reserved for expansion of ICMPv6 error messages
ICMPv6 Informational Messages
128 Echo Request 0
129 Echo Reply 0
130 Multicast Listener Query (MLD) 0

There are two subtypes of Multicast Listener Query messages:

  • General Query, used to learn which multicast addresses have listeners on an attached link.
  • Multicast-Address-Specific Query, used to learn if a particular multicast address has any listeners on an attached link.

These two subtypes are differentiated by the contents of the Multicast Address field, as described in section 3.6 of RFC 2710

131 Multicast Listener Report (MLD) 0
132 Multicast Listener Done (MLD) 0
133 Router Solicitation (NDP) 0
134 Router Advertisement (NDP) 0
135 Neighbor Solicitation (NDP) 0
136 Neighbor Advertisement (NDP) 0
137 Redirect Message (NDP) 0
138 Router Renumbering[3] 0 Router Renumbering Command
1 Router Renumbering Result
255 Sequence Number Reset
139 ICMP Node Information Query 0 The Data field contains an IPv6 address which is the Subject of this Query.
1 The Data field contains a name which is the Subject of this Query, or is empty, as in the case of a NOOP.
2 The Data field contains an IPv4 address which is the Subject of this Query.
140 ICMP Node Information Response 0 A successful reply. The Reply Data field may or may not be empty.
1 The Responder refuses to supply the answer. The Reply Data field will be empty.
2 The Qtype of the Query is unknown to the Responder. The Reply Data field will be empty.
141 Inverse Neighbor Discovery Solicitation Message 0
142 Inverse Neighbor Discovery Advertisement Message 0
143 Multicast Listener Discovery (MLDv2) reports[4]
144 Home Agent Address Discovery Request Message 0
145 Home Agent Address Discovery Reply Message 0
146 Mobile Prefix Solicitation 0
147 Mobile Prefix Advertisement 0
148 Certification Path Solicitation (SEND)
149 Certification Path Advertisement (SEND)
151 Multicast Router Advertisement (MRD)
152 Multicast Router Solicitation (MRD)
153 Multicast Router Termination (MRD)
155 RPL Control Message
200 Private experimentation
201 Private experimentation
255 Reserved for expansion of ICMPv6 informational messages

Note that the table above is not comprehensive. The current complete list of assigned ICMPv6 types can be found at this link: IANA: ICMPv6 Parameters.


ICMPv6 provides a minimal level of message integrity verification by the inclusion of a 16-bit checksum in its header. The checksum is calculated starting with a pseudo-header of IPv6 header fields according to the IPv6 standard,[5] which consists of the source and destination addresses, the packet length and the next header field, the latter of which is set to the value 58. Following this pseudo header, the checksum is continued with the ICMPv6 message. The checksum computation is performed according to Internet protocol standards using 16-bit ones' complement summation, followed by a final ones' complement of the checksum itself and inserting it into the checksum field.[6] Note that this differs from the way it is calculated for IPv4 in ICMP, but is similar to the calculation done in TCP.

ICMPv6 pseudo-header
Bit offset 0 – 7 8–15 16–23 24–31
0 Source address
128 Destination address
256 ICMPv6 length
288 Zeros Next header


The payload of an ICMPv6 message varies according the type of message being sent. It begins at bit 32 immediately after the header described above. For some messages such as destination unreachable or time exceeded there is no defined message body.

Destination Unreachable
Bit offset 0–7 8–15 16–31
0 1 Code Checksum
32 Unused
64 Message body (Variable Size)
Time Exceeded
Bit offset 0–7 8–15 16–31
0 3 Code Checksum
32 Unused
64 Message body (Variable Size)

Others define a use only for the first four bytes of the body with no other defined content:

Packet Too Big
Bit offset 0–7 8–15 16–31
0 2 0 Checksum
32 MTU
64 Message body (Variable Size)
Parameter Problem
Bit offset 0–7 8–15 16–31
0 4 Code Checksum
32 Pointer
64 Message body (Variable Size)
Echo Request
Bit offset 0–7 8–15 16–31
0 128 0 Checksum
32 Identifier Sequence Number
64 Data (Variable Size)
Echo Reply
Bit offset 0–7 8–15 16–31
0 129 0 Checksum
32 Identifier Sequence Number
64 Data (Variable Size)

In the case of NDP messages the first four bytes are either reserved or used for flags/hoplimit. While the reset of body has unspecified structured data:

Router Solicitation
Bit offset 0–7 8–15 16–31
0 133 0 Checksum
32 Reserved
64 Options (Variable Size)
Router Advertisement
Bit offset 0–7 8–15 16–31
0 134 0 Checksum
32 Cur Hop Limit Managed Address Flag Other Configuration Flag Reservered Router Lifetime
64 Reachable Time
96 Retrans Time
128 Options (Variable Size)
Neighbor Solicitation
Bit offset 0–7 8–15 16–31
0 135 0 Checksum
32 Reserved
64 Target Address (16 bytes)
192 Options (Variable Size)
Neighbor Advertisement
Bit offset 0–7 8–15 16–31
0 136 0 Checksum
32 From Router (R) Solicited Flag(S) Override(O) Reserved
64 Target Address (16 bytes)
192 Options (Variable Size)

For a redirect the first bytes of the message body are reserved but not used. This is followed by a Target and destination address. Unspecified options can be attached to the end:

ICMPv6 Redirect
Bit offset 0–7 8–15 16–31
0 137 0 Checksum
32 Reserved
64 Target Address (16 bytes)
192 Destination Address (16 bytes)
320 Options (Variable Size)

Message processing[edit]

When an ICMPv6 node receives a packet, it must undertake actions that depend on the type of message. The ICMPv6 protocol must limit the number of error messages sent to the same destination to avoid network overloading. For example, if a node continues to forward erroneous packets, ICMP will signal the error to the first packet and then do so periodically, with a fixed minimum period or with a fixed network maximum load. An ICMP error message must never be sent in response to another ICMP error message.


  1. ^ A. Conta; S. Deering (March 2006). M. Gupta (ed.). Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMPv6) for the Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) Specification. Network Working Group. doi:10.17487/RFC4443. STD 89. RFC 4443. Internet Standard. Obsoletes RFC 2463. Updates RFC 2780. Updated by RFC 4884.
  2. ^ T. Mrugalski; M. Siodelski; B. Volz; A. Yourtchenko; M. Richardson; S. Jiang; T. Lemon; T. Winters (November 2018). Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol for IPv6 (DHCPv6). IETF. doi:10.17487/RFC8415. ISSN 2070-1721. RFC 8415. Proposed Standard. sec. 3. Obsoletes RFC 3315, 3633, 3736, 4242, 7083, 7283 and 7550.
  3. ^ M. Crawford (August 2000). Router Renumbering for IPv6. Network Working Group. doi:10.17487/RFC2894. RFC 2894. Proposed Standard.
  4. ^ R. Vida; L. Costa, eds. (June 2004). Multicast Listener Discovery Version 2 (MLDv2) for IPv6. Network Working Group. doi:10.17487/RFC3810. RFC 3810. Proposed Standard. Updates RFC 2710. Updated by RFC 4604.
  5. ^ S. Deering; R. Hinden (July 2017). Internet Protocol, Version 6 (IPv6) Specification. IETF. doi:10.17487/RFC8200. STD 86. RFC 8200. Internet Standard 86. sec. 8.1. Obsoletes RFC 2460.
  6. ^ R. Braden; D. Borman; C. Partridge (September 1988). Computing the Internet Checksum. Network Working Group. doi:10.17487/RFC1071. RFC 1071. Informational. Updated by RFC 1141.

External links[edit]