The Set-Cookie HTTP response header is used to send a cookie from the server to the user agent, so the user agent can send it back to the server later. To send multiple cookies, multiple Set-Cookie headers should be sent in the same response.

Warning: Browsers block frontend JavaScript code from accessing the Set Cookie header, as required by the Fetch spec, which defines Set-Cookie as a forbidden response-header name that must be filtered out from any response exposed to frontend code.

For more information, see the guide on Using HTTP cookies.

Header type Response header
Forbidden header name no
Forbidden response-header name yes


Set-Cookie: <cookie-name>=<cookie-value>
Set-Cookie: <cookie-name>=<cookie-value>; Expires=<date>
Set-Cookie: <cookie-name>=<cookie-value>; Max-Age=<number>
Set-Cookie: <cookie-name>=<cookie-value>; Domain=<domain-value>
Set-Cookie: <cookie-name>=<cookie-value>; Path=<path-value>
Set-Cookie: <cookie-name>=<cookie-value>; Secure
Set-Cookie: <cookie-name>=<cookie-value>; HttpOnly

Set-Cookie: <cookie-name>=<cookie-value>; SameSite=Strict
Set-Cookie: <cookie-name>=<cookie-value>; SameSite=Lax
Set-Cookie: <cookie-name>=<cookie-value>; SameSite=None; Secure

// Multiple attributes are also possible, for example:
Set-Cookie: <cookie-name>=<cookie-value>; Domain=<domain-value>; Secure; HttpOnly



A cookie begins with a name-value pair.

A <cookie-name> can be any US-ASCII characters, except control characters, spaces, or tabs. It also must not contain a separator character like the following: ( ) < > @ , ; : \ " / [ ] ? = { }.

A <cookie-value> can optionally be wrapped in double quotes and include any US-ASCII characters excluding control characters, Whitespace, double quotes, comma, semicolon, and backslash.

Encoding: Many implementations perform URL encoding on cookie values, however it is not required per the RFC specification. It does help satisfying the requirements about which characters are allowed for <cookie-value> though.

Note: Some <cookie-name> have a specific semantic:

__Secure- prefix: Cookies names starting with __Secure- (dash is part of the prefix) must be set with the secure flag from a secure page (HTTPS).

__Host- prefix: Cookies with names starting with __Host- must be set with the secure flag, must be from a secure page (HTTPS), must not have a domain specified (and therefore aren't sent to subdomains) and the path must be /.

Expires=<date> Optional

The maximum lifetime of the cookie as an HTTP-date timestamp. See Date for the required formatting.

If unspecified, the cookie becomes a session cookie. A session finishes when the client shuts down, and session cookies will be removed.

Warning: Many web browsers have a session restore feature that will save all tabs and restore them next time the browser is used. Session cookies will also be restored, as if the browser was never closed.

When an Expires date is set, the deadline is relative to the client the cookie is being set on, not the server.

Max-Age=<number> Optional

Number of seconds until the cookie expires. A zero or negative number will expire the cookie immediately. If both Expires and Max-Age are set, Max-Age has precedence.

Domain=<domain-value> Optional

Host to which the cookie will be sent.

If omitted, defaults to the host of the current document URL, not including subdomains.

Contrary to earlier specifications, leading dots in domain names ( are ignored.

Multiple host/domain values are not allowed, but if a domain is specified, then subdomains are always included.

Path=<path-value> Optional

A path that must exist in the requested URL, or the browser won't send the Cookie header.

The forward slash (/) character is interpreted as a directory separator, and subdirectories will be matched as well: for Path=/docs, /docs, /docs/Web/, and /docs/Web/HTTP will all match.

Secure Optional

Cookie is only sent to the server when a request is made with the https: scheme (except on localhost), and therefore is more resistent to man-in-the-middle attacks.

Note: Do not assume that Secure prevents all access to sensitive information in cookies (session keys, login details, etc.). Cookies with this attribute can still be read/modified with access to the client's hard disk, or from JavaScript if the HttpOnly cookie attribute is not set.

Insecure sites (http:) can't set cookies with the Secure attribute (since Chrome 52 and Firefox 52). For Firefox, the https: requirements are ignored when the Secure attribute is set by localhost (since Firefox 75).

HttpOnly Optional

Forbids JavaScript from accessing the cookie, for example, through the Document.cookie property. Note that a cookie that has been created with HttpOnly will still be sent with JavaScript-initiated requests, e.g. when calling XMLHttpRequest.send() or fetch(). This mitigates attacks against cross-site scripting (XSS).

SameSite=<samesite-value> Optional

Controls whether a cookie is sent with cross-origin requests, providing some protection against cross-site request forgery attacks (CSRF).

Note: Standards related to the SameSite Cookies recently changed such that:

  1. The cookie-sending behavior if SameSite is not specified is SameSite=Lax. Previously the default was that cookies were sent for all requests.
  2. Cookies with SameSite=None must now also specify the Secure attribute (i.e. they require a secure context).

The options below covers the new behavior. See the Browser compatibility table for information about specific browser implementation (rows: "SameSite: Defaults to Lax" and "SameSite: Secure context required").

Inline options are: Strict, Lax, and None.

Strict means that the browser sends the cookie only for same-site requests, that is, requests originating from the same site that set the cookie. If the request originated from a different URL than the current one, no cookies with the SameSite=Strict attribute are sent.

Lax means that the cookie is not sent on cross-site requests, such as calls to load images or frames, but is sent when a user is navigating to the origin site from an external site (e.g., if following a link). This is the default behavior if the SameSite attribute is not specified.

Finally, None means that the browser sends the cookie with both cross-site and same-site requests. The Secure attribute must also be set when SameSite=None!


Session cookies are removed when the client shuts down. Cookies are session cookies if they don't specify the Expires or Max-Age attributes.

Set-Cookie: sessionId=38afes7a8

Instead of expiring when the client is closed, permanent cookies expire at a specific date (Expires) or after a specific length of time (Max-Age).

Set-Cookie: id=a3fWa; Expires=Wed, 21 Oct 2015 07:28:00 GMT
Set-Cookie: id=a3fWa; Max-Age=2592000

Invalid domains

A cookie for a domain that does not include the server that set it should be rejected by the user agent.

The following cookie will be rejected if set by a server hosted on

Set-Cookie: qwerty=219ffwef9w0f;

A cookie for a sub domain of the serving domain will be rejected.

The following cookie will be rejected if set by a server hosted on

Set-Cookie: sessionId=e8bb43229de9;

Cookies names prefixed with __Secure- or __Host- can be used only if they are set with the secure attribute from a secure (HTTPS) origin.

In addition, cookies with the __Host- prefix must have a path of / (meaning any path at the host) and must not have a Domain attribute.

Warning: For clients that don't implement cookie prefixes, you cannot count on these additional assurances, and prefixed cookies will always be accepted.

// Both accepted when from a secure origin (HTTPS)
Set-Cookie: __Secure-ID=123; Secure;
Set-Cookie: __Host-ID=123; Secure; Path=/

// Rejected due to missing Secure attribute
Set-Cookie: __Secure-id=1

// Rejected due to the missing Path=/ attribute
Set-Cookie: __Host-id=1; Secure

// Rejected due to setting a Domain
Set-Cookie: __Host-id=1; Secure; Path=/;


HTTP State Management Mechanism
# sane-set-cookie

Browser compatibility

BCD tables only load in the browser

Compatibility notes

  • Starting with Chrome 52 and Firefox 52, insecure sites (http:) can't set cookies with the Secure attribute anymore.

See also