I'm new with AWS and facing some confusion with ACM SSL certificate installation to an EC2 instance.

Is it possible to install the certificate without using ELB or Cloudfront. I don't need load balancer because the app is running on a single instance.

Do I have any other option to install the AWS SSL cert? If load balaner is the only option, is it possible for a single instance only?

Thanks in advance for your answers

  • You appear to be asking about certificates from Amazon Certificate Manager, without actually mentioning it. Is that what you are referring to? Dec 30, 2018 at 18:27

3 Answers 3


Certificates obtained through Amazon Certificate Manager (ACM) can only be installed on Elastic Load Balancers, CloudFront, API Gateway, and other AWS services. They cannot be exported or installed directly onto EC2 instances.

If you want to install an SSL certificate directly on your EC2 instance, you cannot use ACM. Instead, you will need to obtain an SSL certificate through a third-party (such as Lets Encrypt, GoDaddy, ec.) and install it following the instructions for your web server.

It is 100% valid to put an ELB in front of a single EC2 instance, especially for the purpose of letting the ELB manage the SSL certificate.

Other benefits of using ELB in front of your EC2 instance:

  • You'll gain the protection of AWS Shield (which provides some levels of DDoS protection),
  • You can replace the EC2 instance or scale out more easily if needed in the future,
  • The ELB will handle the encryption/decryption of the HTTPS connections (freeing your EC2 instance's CPU to do other work)
  • "It is 100% valid to put an ELB in front of a single EC2 instance ..." Yeah but how do you do that, with a long live EC2 instance? All the examples I see ELB are attached to ASG target groups.
    – spinkus
    Oct 20, 2019 at 22:42
  • @spinkus EC2 target groups don't have to be associated with an ASG. You can just create one and add your EC2 instance, then point the ELB at that. Mar 28 at 0:46

You will have to install the certificate for any server software that you are running on your instance. e.g apache, nginx, tomcat, nodejs. Each of these have their own mechanism for using the certificates. Read their documentation.

Also if you have setup DNS resolution for your instance public ip (make sure you are using elastic IP) then you can use certbot from let's encrypt to automate this process. check https://certbot.eff.org/. It supports multiple environments out of the box. and its free ssl certificates.


You can use a service like nip.io which acts like on the fly DNS and forwards all requests from <IP>.nip.io to <IP>.

You can then use a service like Caddy to setup TLS certificates.

This is what your configuration will look like if your application is running on port 3000

<EC2 Public IP>.nip.io {
    reverse_proxy localhost:3000

Once you run Caddy, you will be able to access the site using the link https://<IP>.nip.io

I wrote an article on this, HTTPS on AWS EC2 without a Load Balancer

  • Caddy is a great suggestion as it takes care of the Let's Encrypt provisioning and renewal automatically. Note that you don't need to use nip.io here. If you have your own domain (which is the most common case) then you can simply deploy Caddy beside your existing port-80 service and have it reverse-proxy to port-443 with the desired hostname. Set auto_https disable_redirects in the global config block to make sure Caddy does not try to bind to port-80. Mar 28 at 1:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.