Environment configuration reference

Open Zaak can be ran both as a Docker container or directly on a VPS or dedicated server. It relies on other services, such as database and cache backends, which can be configured through environment variables.

Available environment variables


  • DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE: which environment settings to use. Available options:

    • openzaak.conf.production

    • openzaak.conf.staging

    • openzaak.conf.docker

    • openzaak.conf.dev

    • openzaak.conf.ci

  • SECRET_KEY: secret key that’s used for certain cryptographic utilities. You should generate one via miniwebtool

  • ALLOWED_HOSTS: a comma separated (without spaces!) list of domains that serve the installation. Used to protect against Host header attacks.


Additionally, the following optional envvars MUST be set/changed when running on Docker, since localhost is contained within the container:





  • SITE_ID: defaults to 1. The database ID of the site object. You usually won’t have to touch this.

  • DEBUG: defaults to False. Only set this to True on a local development environment. Various other security settings are derived from this setting!

  • IS_HTTPS: defaults to the inverse of DEBUG. Used to construct absolute URLs and controls a variety of security settings.

  • DB_HOST: hostname of the PostgreSQL database. Defaults to localhost, unless you’re using the docker environment, then it defaults to db.

  • DB_USER: username of the database user. Defaults to openzaak, unless you’re using the docker environment, then it defaults to postgres.

  • DB_PASSWORD: password of the database user. Defaults to openzaak, unless you’re using the docker environment, then it defaults to no password.

  • DB_NAME: name of the PostgreSQL database. Defaults to openzaak, unless you’re using the docker environment, then it defaults to postgres.

  • DB_PORT: port number of the database, defaults to 5432.

  • USE_X_FORWARDED_HOST: whether to grab the domain/host from the X-Forwarded-Host header or not. This header is typically set by reverse proxies (such as nginx, traefik, Apache…). Default False - this is a header that can be spoofed and you need to ensure you control it before enabling this.

  • CACHE_DEFAULT: redis cache address for the default cache. Defaults to localhost:6379/0.

  • CACHE_AXES: redis cache address for the brute force login protection cache. Defaults to localhost:6379/0.

  • EMAIL_HOST: hostname for the outgoing e-mail server. Defaults to localhost.

  • EMAIL_PORT: port number of the outgoing e-mail server. Defaults to 25. Note that if you’re on Google Cloud, sending e-mail via port 25 is completely blocked and you should use 487 for TLS.

  • EMAIL_HOST_USER: username to connect to the mail server. Default empty.

  • EMAIL_HOST_PASSWORD: password to connect to the mail server. Default empty.

  • EMAIL_USE_TLS: whether to use TLS or not to connect to the mail server. Defaults to False. Should be True if you’re changing the EMAIL_PORT to 487.

  • MIN_UPLOAD_SIZE: the max allowed size of POST bodies, in bytes. Defaults to 4GB. Note that you should also configure your web server to allow this.

  • SENDFILE_BACKEND: which backend to use for authorization-secured upload downloads. Defaults to sendfile.backends.nginx. See django-sendfile2 for available backends.

  • SENTRY_DSN: URL of the sentry project to send error reports to. Default empty, i.e. -> no monitoring set up. Highly recommended to configure this.

  • JWT_EXPIRY: duration a JWT is considered to be valid, in seconds. Defaults to 3600 - 1 hour.

  • JWT_LEEWAY: JWT validation has a time aspect, usually in the form of the iat and nbf claims. Clock drift between server and client can occur. This setting allows specifying the leeway in seconds, and defaults to 0 (no leeway). It is advised to not make this larger than a couple of minutes.

  • LOG_STDOUT: whether to log to stdout or not. For Docker environments, defaults to True, for other environments the default is to log to file.

  • PROFILE: whether to enable profiling-tooling or not. Applies to the development settings only. Defaults to False.

  • CMIS_ENABLED: whether to enable the CMIS adapter. Defaults to False.

  • CMIS_MAPPER_FILE: name of the file containing the mapping between the Django and Document Management System names for document properties. See the installation section for more details. Defaults to the absolute path of open-zaak/config/cmis_mapper.json.

  • CMIS_URL_MAPPING_ENABLED: enable the URL shortener when using the CMIS adapter. Defaults to False.

  • EXTRA_VERIFY_CERTS: a comma-separated list of paths to certificates to trust, empty by default. If you’re using self-signed certificates for the services that Open Zaak communicates with, specify the path to those (root) certificates here, rather than disabling SSL certificate verification. Example: EXTRA_VERIFY_CERTS=/etc/ssl/root1.crt,/etc/ssl/root2.crt.

  • CURL_CA_BUNDLE: if this variable is set to an empty string, it disables SSL/TLS certificate verification. More information about why can be found here. Even calls from Open Zaak to other services such as the Selectie Lijst will be disabled, so this variable should be used with care to prevent unwanted side-effects.

Initial superuser creation

A clean installation of Open Zaak comes without pre-installed or pre-configured admin user by default.

Users of Open Zaak can opt-in to provision an initial superuser via environment variables. The user will only be created if it doesn’t exist yet.

  • OPENZAAK_SUPERUSER_USERNAME: specify the username of the superuser to create. Setting this to a non-empty value will enable the creation of the superuser. Default empty.

  • OPENZAAK_SUPERUSER_EMAIL: specify the e-mail address to configure for the superuser. Defaults to admin@admin.org. Only has an effect if OPENZAAK_SUPERUSER_USERNAME is set.

  • DJANGO_SUPERUSER_PASSWORD: specify the password for the superuser. Default empty, which means the superuser will be created without password. Only has an effect if OPENZAAK_SUPERUSER_USERNAME is set.

Advanced application server options

Open Zaak uses uWSGI under the hood, which can be configured with a myriad of options. Most of these can be provided as environment variables as well. The following options below are a non-exhaustive list of options you may need with Open Zaak.

  • UWSGI_HTTP_TIMEOUT - defaults to 60s. If Open Zaak does not complete the request within this timeout, then uWSGI will error out. This has been observed with certain CMIS implementations causing slow requests where 60s is not sufficient.


The following parameters control the CORS policy.

  • CORS_ALLOW_ALL_ORIGINS: allow cross-domain access from any client. Defaults to False.

  • CORS_ALLOWED_ORIGINS: explicitly list the allowed origins for cross-domain requests. Defaults to an empty list. Example: http://localhost:3000,https://some-app.gemeente.nl.

  • CORS_ALLOWED_ORIGIN_REGEXES: same as CORS_ALLOWED_ORIGINS, but supports regular expressions.

  • CORS_EXTRA_ALLOW_HEADERS: headers that are allowed to be sent as part of the cross-domain request. By default, Authorization, Accept-Crs and Content-Crs are already included. The value of this variable is added to these already included headers. Defaults to an empty list.

Specifying the environment variables

There are two strategies to specify the environment variables:

  • provide them in a .env file

  • start the Open Zaak processes (with uwsgi/gunicorn/celery) in a process manager that defines the environment variables

Providing a .env file

This is the most simple setup and easiest to debug. The .env file must be at the root of the project - i.e. on the same level as the src directory ( NOT in the src directory).

The syntax is key-value:


Provide the envvars via the process manager

If you use a process manager (such as supervisor/systemd), use their techniques to define the envvars. The Open Zaak implementation will pick them up out of the box.