There are two ways to authenticate a Zendesk API request:

  • OAuth access token
  • API token

Developers typically use OAuth access tokens to authenticate Zendesk API requests on behalf of their users. Creating these tokens involves building an OAuth authorization flow that requires interaction from the user.

You can also create OAuth access tokens on your own behalf without building an authorization flow. Unlike an API token, OAuth access tokens use scopes to limit access to your Zendesk account. OAuth access tokens are also easily revoked. These features make OAuth access tokens a more secure way to authenticate your Zendesk API requests.

This guide shows how you can use the API to create OAuth access tokens on your own behalf. The guide also covers how to use OAuth access tokens to authenticate Zendesk API requests and how to revoke a token.

Note: Example API requests the Zendesk documentation use are API tokens.

Important: The Sales CRM API uses a different setup for OAuth authentication. For more information, see OAuth 2.0 Introduction in the Sales CRM API reference docs.

Differences between API tokens and access tokens

Both API tokens and OAuth access tokens let you authenticate Zendesk API requests without providing your Zendesk password. However, the token types support different creation methods and permission setups.

The following table describes some key differences between API tokens and OAuth access tokens.

DifferenceAPI tokensOauth access tokens
Creation and managementCreated and managed using Admin Center. See Generating a new API token in Zendesk help.Created and managed using Zendesk API requests.

However, you can create OAuth clients using Admin Center. See Registering your application with Zendesk in Zendesk help.
User associationNot associated with a specific Zendesk user.

However, you must provide an email address for an admin, agent, or other valid user when authenticating requests.
Associated with a specific Zendesk user.
PermissionsPermissions are limited by the user role associated with the provided email address.Permissions are limited using scopes and the associated user's role.
Cross-origin resource sharing (CORS) requestsDoesn't support client-side CORS requests.Supports client-side CORS requests. See Making cross-origin, browser-side API requests.

Creating an OAuth client

To create an access token, you need an OAuth client. You can use the same OAuth client to create multiple access tokens.

You can create an OAuth client in one of two ways:

Note: OAuth clients are scoped to one Zendesk instance. To request a global OAuth client that works with multiple Zendesk instances, see Set up a global OAuth client.

Using Admin Center

To create an OAuth client using Admin Center, see Registering your application with Zendesk in Zendesk help. You must be signed in as an admin. When creating a client for creating an OAuth token with the API, you don't need to specify any Redirect URLs.

Using a Zendesk API request

You can also create an OAuth client using a Create Client request.

curl https://{subdomain} \  -X POST \  -v -u {email_address}/token:{api_token} \  -H "Content-Type: application/json" \  -d '{    "client": {      "name": "Test client",      "identifier": "test_client"    }  }'

Save the client's id from the response. You'll use this id to create access tokens using the client.

{  "client": {    "url": "",    "id": 223443,    "user_id": 1905826600027,    "name": "Test client",    "identifier": "test_client",    ...  }}

Getting an OAuth client's id

When you create an access token, you must specify the OAuth client's id. This differs from the unique identifier you provide when creating the client.

If you already have the client's id, skip to Creating an access token. Otherwise, you can get the id using a List Clients request.

curl https://{subdomain} \  -v -u {email_address}/token:{api_token}

In the response, find the client with a matching name and identifier. Save the client’s id.

{  "clients": [    {      "url": "",      "id": 223443,      "user_id": 1905826600027,      "name": "Test client",      "identifier": "test_client",      ...    },    ...  ],  "next_page": null,  "previous_page": null,  "count": 10}

Creating the access token

To create an access token, make a Create Token request. The request body must contain a token object with at least the following two parameters:

  • client_id: The OAuth client's id
  • scopes: An array of permission scopes for the access token. For valid scopes, see Scopes in the API reference.

Only admins can make the request. If the admin's role later changes, the token's access permissions automatically changes to reflect the new role. For example, the token will no longer work with endpoints that are only allowed for admins.

curl https://{subdomain} \  -X POST \  -v -u {email_address}/token:{api_token} \  -H "Content-Type: application/json" \  -d '{    "token": {      "client_id": 223443,      "scopes": [        "tickets:read"      ]    }  }'

The response includes the access token in the full_token property.

{  "token": {    "url": "",    "id": 15022151901588,    "user_id": 1905826600027,    "client_id": 223443,    ...    "scopes": [      "tickets:read"    ],    "full_token": "52d7ef4ee01e2c2c75bff572f957cd4f12d6225eee07ea2f01d01a"  }}

Securely save the access token and treat it as a password. You won't be able to retrieve the full access token again. If you suspect a token has been compromised, revoke it. See Revoke Token.

While the response includes a refresh_token property, Zendesk access tokens don't expire and don't use refresh tokens. Zendesk access tokens are valid until revoked.

Using an access token to authenticate API requests

To authenticate Zendesk API requests, use the access token as a Bearer token in the request's Authorization header.

curl https://{subdomain} \  -H "Authorization: Bearer {access_token}"


curl https://{subdomain} \  -H "Authorization: Bearer 52d7ef4ee01e2c2c75bff572f957cd4f12d6225eee07ea2f01d01a"

Getting information about access tokens

You can't retrieve a full access token after creating it. However, you can view other information about the token, such as its scopes and id.

Use a List Tokens request to get a list of access tokens for a Zendesk account. Only admins can make the request.

curl https://{subdomain} \  -v -u {email_address}/token:{api_token}

The response includes each token's id.

{  "tokens": [    {      "url": "",      "id": 15022151901588,      "user_id": 1905826600027,      "client_id": 223443,      "token": "52d7ef4ee0",      ...      "scopes": [        "tickets:read"      ]    },    ...  ]}

For security reasons, only the first 10 characters of each token are included.

Revoking an access token

You can revoke an access token using a Revoke Token request. The request requires the access token's id. To get the id, see Getting information about access tokens.

curl https://{subdomain}{oauth_token_id}.json \  -X DELETE \  -v -u {email_address}/token:{api_token}