Help us improve your experience.

Let us know what you think.

Do you have time for a two-minute survey?


Understanding BGP Communities, Extended Communities, and Large Communities as Routing Policy Match Conditions

A BGP community is a group of destinations that share a common property. Community information is included as a path attribute in BGP update messages. This information identifies community members and enables you to perform actions on a group without having to elaborate upon each member. You can use community and extended communities attributes to trigger routing decisions, such as acceptance, rejection, preference, or redistribution.

You can assign community tags to non-BGP routes through configuration (for static, aggregate, or generated routes) or an import routing policy. These tags can then be matched when BGP exports the routes.

A community value is a 32-bit field that is divided into two main sections. The first 16 bits of the value encode the AS number of the network that originated the community, while the last 16 bits carry a unique number assigned by the AS. This system attempts to guarantee a globally unique set of community values for each AS in the Internet. Junos OS uses a notation of as-number:community-value, where each value is a decimal number. The AS values of 0 and 65,535 are reserved, as are all of the community values within those AS numbers. Each community, or set of communities, is given a name within the [edit policy-options] configuration hierarchy. The name of the community uniquely identifies it to the routing device and serves as the method by which routes are categorized. For example, a route with a community value of 64510:1111 might belong to the community named AS64510-routes. The community name is also used within a routing policy as a match criterion or as an action. The command syntax for creating a community is: policy-options community name members [community-ids]. The community-ids are either a single community value or multiple community values. When more than one value is assigned to a community name, the routing device interprets this as a logical AND of the community values. In other words, a route must have all of the configured values before being assigned the community name.

The regular community attribute is four octets. Networking enhancements, such as VPNs, have functionality requirements that can be satisfied by an attribute such as a community. However, the 4-octet community value does not provide enough expansion and flexibility to accommodate VPN requirements. This leads to the creation of extended communities. An extended community is an 8-octet value that is also divided into two main sections. The first 2 octets of the community encode a type field while the last 6 octets carry a unique set of data in a format defined by the type field. Extended communities provide a larger range for grouping or categorizing communities.

The BGP extended communities attribute format has three fields: type:administrator:assigned-number. The routing device expects you to use the words target or origin to represent the type field. The administrator field uses a decimal number for the AS or an IPv4 address, while the assigned number field expects a decimal number no larger than the size of the field (65,535 for 2 octets or 4,294,967,295 for 4 octets).

When specifying community IDs for standard and extended community attributes, you can use UNIX-style regular expressions. The only exception is for VPN import policies (vrf-import), which do not support regular expressions for the extended communities attribute.

Regular BGP communities attributes are a variable length attribute consisting of a set of one or more 4-byte values that was split into 16 bit values. The most significant word is interpreted as an AS number and least significant word is a locally defined value assigned by the operator of the AS. Since the adoption of 4-byte ASNs, the 4-byte BGP regular community and 6-byte BGP extended community can no longer support BGP community attributes. Operators often encode AS number in the local portion of the BGP community that means that sometimes the format of the community is ASN:ASN. With the 4-byte ASN , you need 8-bytes to encode it. Although BGP extended community permits a 4-byte AS to be encoded as the global administrator field, the local administrator field has only 2-byte of available space. Thus, 6-byte extended community attribute is also unsuitable. To overcome this, Junos OS allows you to configure optional transitive path attribute - a 12-byte BGP large community that provides the most significant 4-byte value to encode autonomous system number as the global administrator and the remaining two 4-byte assigned numbers to encode the local values as defined in RFC 8092. You can configure BGP large community at the [edit policy-options community community-name members] and [edit routing-options static route ip-address community] hierarchy levels. The BGP large community attributes format has four fields: large:global administrator:assigned number:assigned number.

The BGP IPv6 unicast address specific extended community are encoded as a set of 20-bytes value. The 20-byte value gets interpreted in the following format:

  • Most significant 2-bytes encodes the Type and Sub-Type value (high value (most significant byte) and Low value (second most significant byte)).

  • Next 16-bytes encodes the IPv6 unicast address. It is the global administrator in the IETF RFC.

  • Last 2-bytes encodes the operator defined local values. It is local administrator in the IETF RFC.

The IPv6 unicast address specific BGP extended community attributes are represented by a keyword ipv6-target, ipv6-origin, or ipv6-extended followed by IPv6 and local administrator separated by <, >, and :.


The length of the BGP large communities attribute value should be a non-zero multiple of 12.