Internet Gateways and NAT Gateways

Last Updated : 12-Oct-2020

Internet Gateways (IGW)

An internet gateway is a horizontally scaled, redundant, and highly available VPC component that allows communication between your VPC and the internet.

An internet gateway serves two purposes: to provide a target in your VPC route tables for internet-routable traffic, and to perform network address translation (NAT) for instances that have been assigned public IPv4 addresses.

An internet gateway supports IPv4 and IPv6 traffic. It does not cause availability risks or bandwidth constraints on your network traffic. There’s no additional charge for having an internet gateway in your account.

                Using an internet gateway

A VPC can only have one Internet Gateway.

To enable access to or from the internet for instances in a subnet in a VPC, you must do the following:

  • Attach an internet gateway to your VPC.
  • Add a route to your subnet’s route table that directs internet-bound traffic to the internet gateway. If a subnet is associated with a route table that has a route to an internet gateway, it’s known as a public subnet. If a subnet is associated with a route table that does not have a route to an internet gateway, it’s known as a private subnet.
  • Ensure that instances in your subnet have a globally unique IP address (public IPv4 address, Elastic IP address, or IPv6 address).
  • Ensure that your network access control lists and security group rules allow the relevant traffic to flow to and from your instance.

NAT Gateways

You can use a network address translation (NAT) gateway to enable instances in a private subnet to connect to the internet or other AWS services, but prevent the internet from initiating a connection with those instances.

NAT gateways are not supported for IPv6 traffic—use an outbound-only (egress-only) internet gateway instead. F

You are charged for creating and using a NAT gateway in your account. NAT gateway hourly usage and data processing rates apply. Amazon EC2 charges for data transfer also apply.

          A VPC with public and private subnets and a NAT gateway

NAT gateway basics

To create a NAT gateway, you must specify the public subnet in which the NAT gateway should reside. For more information about public and private subnets, see Subnet routing. You must also specify an Elastic IP address to associate with the NAT gateway when you create it. The Elastic IP address cannot be changed after you associate it with the NAT Gateway. After you’ve created a NAT gateway, you must update the route table associated with one or more of your private subnets to point internet-bound traffic to the NAT gateway. This enables instances in your private subnets to communicate with the internet.

Each NAT gateway is created in a specific Availability Zone and implemented with redundancy in that zone. You have a quota on the number of NAT gateways you can create in an Availability Zone.

NAT gateway rules and limitations

A NAT gateway has the following characteristics and limitations:

  • A NAT gateway supports 5 Gbps of bandwidth and automatically scales up to 45 Gbps. If you require more, you can distribute the workload by splitting your resources into multiple subnets, and creating a NAT gateway in each subnet.
  • You can associate exactly one Elastic IP address with a NAT gateway. You cannot disassociate an Elastic IP address from a NAT gateway after it’s created. To use a different Elastic IP address for your NAT gateway, you must create a new NAT gateway with the required address, update your route tables, and then delete the existing NAT gateway if it’s no longer required.
  • A NAT gateway supports the following protocols: TCP, UDP, and ICMP.
  • You cannot associate a security group with a NAT gateway. You can use security groups for your instances in the private subnets to control the traffic to and from those instances.
  • You can use a network ACL to control the traffic to and from the subnet in which the NAT gateway is located. The network ACL applies to the NAT gateway’s traffic. A NAT gateway uses ports 1024–65535.
  • When a NAT gateway is created, it receives a network interface that’s automatically assigned a private IP address from the IP address range of your subnet. You can view the NAT gateway’s network interface in the Amazon EC2 console. You cannot modify the attributes of this network interface.
  • A NAT gateway cannot be accessed by a ClassicLink connection that is associated with your VPC.
  • You cannot route traffic to a NAT gateway through a VPC peering connection, a Site-to-Site VPN connection, or AWS Direct Connect. A NAT gateway cannot be used by resources on the other side of these connections.
  • A NAT gateway can support up to 55,000 simultaneous connections to each unique destination. This limit also applies if you create approximately 900 connections per second to a single destination (about 55,000 connections per minute). If the destination IP address, the destination port, or the protocol (TCP/UDP/ICMP) changes, you can create an additional 55,000 connections. For more than 55,000 connections, there is an increased chance of connection errors due to port allocation errors. These errors can be monitored by viewing the ErrorPortAllocation CloudWatch metric for your NAT gateway.


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