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Cisco Meraki

Site-to-Site VPN Settings

Site-to-site VPN

Meraki Auto VPN technology is a unique solution that allows site-to-site VPN tunnel creation with a single mouse click. When enabled through the Dashboard, each participating MX-Z device automatically does the following:

  • Advertises its local subnets that are participating in the VPN.
  • Advertises its WAN IP addresses on Internet 1 and Internet 2 ports.
  • Downloads the global VPN route table from the Dashboard (automatically generated by the Dashboard, based on each MX's advertised WAN IP/local subnet in the VPN network).
  • Downloads the preshared key for establishing the VPN tunnel and traffic encryption.

The net result is an automatic mesh site-to-site VPN solution that is configured with a single click.

Setting up site-to-site VPN

Site-to-site VPN settings are accessible through the Security & SD-WAN > Configure > Site-to-site VPN page.


There are three options for configuring the MX-Z's role in the Auto VPN topology:

  • Off: The MX-Z device will not participate in site-to-site VPN.
  • Hub (Mesh): The MX-Z device will establish VPN tunnels to all remote Meraki VPN peers that are also configured in this mode, as well as any MX-Z appliances in hub-and-spoke mode that have the MX-Z device configured as a hub.
  • Spoke: This MX-Z device (spoke) will establish direct tunnels only to the specified remote MX-Z devices (hubs). Other spokes will be reachable via their respective hubs unless blocked by site-to-site firewall rules.

Hub Type

Exit Hubs

This option is only available if the MX-Z device is configured as a Hub. This option lets you designate the remote MX-Z device that is to receive all network traffic from the local MX-Z device. This creates a Full Tunnel configuration where all traffic destined for a default route is sent to the specified MX.

Security features over full-tunnel VPN

In a full tunnel topology, all security and content filtering must be performed on the full tunnel client. The Exit hub will not apply Content Filtering, IPS blocking, or Malware Scanning to traffic coming in over the VPN. However, IDS scanning will be performed for this traffic.

Spoke Type


When an appliance is configured as a Spoke, multiple VPN Hubs can be configured for that appliance. In this configuration, the Spoke MX-Z device will send all site-to-site traffic to its configured VPN hubs.

Default Route

When configuring Hubs for a Spoke, there is an option to select a hub as being a Default route. If this option is selected, then that hub will be configured as a default route for the Spoke ( Any traffic that is not sent to a configured VPN peer network, static route or local network will be sent to the default route. Multiple hubs can be selected as default routes. Hubs marked as default routes take priority in descending order (first priority at the top).

Configuring multiple VPN hubs

To add additional hubs, click the "Add a hub" button just below the existing hub that is selected. Please note that only appliances in Mesh VPN mode can be hubs, so the number of Mesh VPN appliances in your Dashboard organization represents the maximum number of hubs that can be configured for any given appliance.

The order in which hubs are configured on this page is the hub priority. Hub priority is used to determine which hub to use if more than one VPN hub is advertising the same subnet. The uppermost hub that meets the following criteria will be used to reach that subnet.


A) Advertises the subnet

B) Currently reachable via VPN


Hubs can be deleted by clicking on the grey "X" to the right of the relevant hub under the Actions column. The hub priority list can be reordered by clicking and dragging the grey four-point arrow icon to the right of any hub in the list to move that hub up or down.


There are two tunneling modes available for MX-Z devices configured as a Spoke:

  • Split tunnel (no default route): Send only site-to-site traffic, meaning that if a subnet is at a remote site, the traffic destined for that subnet is sent over the VPN. However, if traffic is destined for a network that is not in the VPN mesh (for example, traffic going to a public web service such as, the traffic is not sent over the VPN. Instead, this traffic is routed using another available route, most commonly being sent directly to the Internet from the local MX-Z device. Split tunneling allows for the configuration of multiple hubs.
  • Full tunnel (default route): The configured Exit hub(s) advertise a default route over Auto VPN to the spoke MX-Z device. Traffic destined for subnets that are not reachable through other routes will be sent over VPN to the Exit hub(s). Exit hubs' default routes will be prioritized in descending order.

Concentrator priority

The concentrator priority determines how appliances in Hub (Mesh) mode will reach subnets that are advertised from more than one Meraki VPN peer. Similarly to hub priorities, the uppermost concentrator in the list that meets the following criteria will be used for such a subnet.


A) Advertises the subnet

B) Currently reachable via VPN


It is important to note that concentrator priorities are used only by appliances in Mesh mode. An appliance in Hub-and-Spoke mode will ignore the concentrator priorities and will use its hub priorities instead.

NAT Traversal

If the MX-Z device is behind a firewall or other NAT device, there are two options for establishing the VPN tunnel:

  • Automatic: In the vast majority of cases, the MX-Z device can automatically establish site-to-site VPN connectivity to remote Meraki VPN peers even through a firewall or NAT device using a technique known as "UDP hole punching". This is the recommended (and default) option.
  • Manual: Port forwarding: If the Automatic option does not work, you can use this option. When Manual: Port forwarding is enabled, Meraki VPN peers contact the MX-Z device using the specified public IP address and UDP port number. You will need to configure the upstream firewall to forward all incoming traffic on that UDP port to the IP address of the MX-Z device.

Make sure the port number you have chosen is not already used by another service. For example, do not use port 500 or 4500 as these are used for Client VPN and 3rd party VPN peer communication.

Local networks

If you have multiple LAN subnets, you have the option to specify which VLANs and static routes participate in the VPN.


The same subnet can only be advertised from more than one appliance if all appliances advertising that subnet are in Passthrough or VPN Concentrator mode. All subnets advertised from an appliance in Routed mode must be unique within the Auto VPN topology.

Subnets to which the MX-Z device has Static LAN routes can also be advertised over the VPN. If you choose to advertise a statically routed subnet over the VPN, ensure that the gateway device for each subnet is configured to route traffic for remote VPN subnets to the MX-Z device, in order to keep your routing symmetrical.

In full tunnel configurations when specifying a prefix to be part of a VPN, everything covered by that prefix will be allowed in the VPN. Therefore, subnets that overlap will cause traffic in a more specific subnet to be sent through the VPN, even if it is not configured to be included in the VPN. For example, if is configured to be included in the VPN but is not, traffic sourced from will still be sent over the VPN.


VPN Subnet Translation

This feature is not enabled by default, please contact Meraki support to enable it.

Moreover, this feature is only supported for Auto VPN and is not intended to work with non-Meraki VPN peers.

In large distributed networks, multiple networks may have identical subnet scopes (i.e. overlapping subnets). Site-to-site VPN communication requires each site to have distinct and non-overlapping local subnets. In the event that multiple locations have the same local subnet, enable VPN subnet translation to translate the local subnet to a new subnet with the same number of addresses.

Subnet Translation Example

  • Branch 1 local subnet:
  • Branch 2 local subnet: (identical!)
  • Branch 1 translated subnet:
  • Branch 2 translated subnet:
In the example above, even though both networks have identical local subnets, they can communicate over the VPN using their translated VPN subnet. Branch 1 is accessible as and Branch 2 is accessible as over the VPN tunnel.

OSPF route advertisement

Note: As part of MX 18.1 firmware updates we are introducing a new “Routing page”, more details found here.

While the MX Security Appliance does not currently support full OSPF routing, OSPF can be used to advertise remote VPN subnets to a core switch or other routing device, avoiding the need to create static routes to those subnets. OSPF advertisement is supported in VPN Concentrator mode or in Routed mode on MX 13.4+ firmware with VLANs disabled.

Advertise remote routes: If this is set to Enabled, OSPF will be used to advertise remote VPN subnets as reachable via this MX

Router ID: The OSPF Router ID that this MX will use to identify itself to neighbors

Area ID: The OSPF Area ID that this MX will use when sending route advertisements.

Cost: The route cost attached to all OSPF routes advertised from this MX.

Hello timer: How frequently the MX will send OSPF Hello packets. This should be the same across all devices in your OSPF topology.

Dead timer: How long the MX will wait to see Hello packets from a particular OSPF neighbor before considering that neighbor inactive

MD5 Authentication: If this is enabled, MD5 hashing will be used to authenticate potential OSPF neighbors. This ensures that no unauthorized devices are injecting OSPF routes into the network.

Authentication Key: The MD5 key number and passphrase. Both of these values must match between any devices that you wish to form an OSPF adjacency.

Non-Meraki VPN peers

You can create Site-to-site VPN tunnels between a Security Appliance or a Teleworker Gateway and a Non-Meraki VPN endpoint device under the Non-Meraki VPN peers section on the Security & SD-WAN > Configure > Site-to-site VPN page. Simply click "Add a peer" and enter the following information:

  • A name for the remote device or VPN tunnel.
  • What IKE version to use (IKEv1 or IKEv2)*
  • The public IP address of the remote device.
  • The Remote ID of the remote peer. This is an optional configuration and can be configured to the remote peer’s UserFQDN (e.g., FQDN (e.g. or IPv4 address as needed.
    • Which of these values you use is dependent upon your remote device. Please consult its documentation to learn what values it is capable of specifying as its remote ID, and how to configure them (e.g. crypto isakmp identity for ASA firewalls
  • The subnets behind the third-party device that you wish to connect to over the VPN. can also be specified to define a default route to this peer.
    • Note that if an MX-Z device is configured with a default route ( to a Non-Meraki VPN peer, traffic will not fail over to the WAN, even if the connection goes down.

  • The IPsec policy to use.
  • The preshared secret key (PSK).
  • Availability settings to determine which appliances in your Dashboard Organization will connect to the peer.

*IKEv2 requires firmware version 15.12 or greater

When configuring NMVPN connections between 2 MXs in different organizations that are running MX15 code and above that are not using a UserFQDN and are NATed behind an upstream device, please ensure that the remote ID field of the NMVPN peer is filled out with the private IP address of the remote NATed MX.

Non-Meraki VPN Peering with FQDN

This feature enables the use of FQDN instead of an IP address while configuring a Non-Meraki VPN peer. Using IP addresses can be tedious because with a dynamic IP address, a customer has to manually modify the Non-Meraki VPN settings on the Site-to-Site VPN page when there is an IP address change. With FQDN configuration, the hostname of the remote peer would automatically get resolved each time a connection is initiated.

“FQDN” differs from “User FQDN”. The MX resolves the FQDN to an IP address of the remote peer, whereas, “User FQDN” is used in conjunction with the IP address of the remote peer. “FQDN” identifies the remote peer and is configured in the “Public IP/Hostname” field. “User FQDN” identifies the local peer and is configured in the “Local ID” field.

Supported Products:

  • MX running firmware 18.1 or higher

  • Requires IKEv2 


The FQDN of the Non-Meraki VPN peer can be configured in the Public IP/Hostname field when IKEv2 is the selected IKE version.

The default behavior of the MX is to set remote_id to FQDN if it is not explicitly added in the dashboard "Non-Meraki VPN peers" settings. Please note, the remote id on one peer needs to match the local id on the other peer for the tunnel to be established. 

If the configured FQDN fails to resolve, an event will be reported in Network-wide > Eventlog on Dashboard


Meraki Appliances build IPsec tunnels by sending out a request with a single traffic selector that contains all of the expected local and remote subnets. Certain vendors may not support allowing more than one local and remote selector in a given IPsec tunnel (e.g. ASA 5500-X series firewalls running certain firmware releases); for such cases, please use IKEv1 instead. 

An MX-Z device will not try to form a VPN tunnel to a non-Meraki peer if it does not have any local networks advertised.

IPsec policies

There are three preset IPsec policies available.

  • Default: Uses the Meraki default IPsec settings for connection to a non-Meraki device
  • AWS: Uses default settings for connecting to an Amazon VPC
  • Azure: Uses default settings for connecting to a Microsoft Azure instance

If none of these presets are appropriate, the Custom option allows you to manually configure the IPsec policy parameters. These parameters are divided into Phase 1 and Phase 2.

Phase 1

  • Encryption: Select between AES-128, AES-192, AES-256, and 3DES encryption
  • Authentication: Select MD5, SHA1 or SHA256* authentication
  • Diffie-Hellman group: Select between Diffie-Hellman (DH) groups 1, 2, 5 or 14*
  • Lifetime (seconds): Enter the phase 1 lifetime in seconds

 * These settings require firmware version 15.12 or greater

Phase 2

  • Encryption: Select between AES-128, AES-192, AES-256, and 3DES encryption (multiple options can be selected)
  • Authentication: Select between MD5 and SHA1 authentication (both options can be selected)
  • PFS group: Select the Off option to disable Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS). Select group 1, 2, or 5 to enable PFS using that Diffie Hellman group.
  • Lifetime (seconds): Enter the phase 2 lifetime in seconds

On May 8th 2018, changes were introduced to deprecate DES for encryption. Click here for more information. 

NOTE: Please ensure the phase 2 lifetimes are equal on both ends of the tunnel whenever possible. While MX's can sometimes honor a shorter phase 2 lifetime if they're acting in response to build a tunnel, they cannot while serving as the initiator of the tunnel. 

Peer availability

By default, a non-Meraki peer configuration applies to all MX-Z appliances in your Dashboard Organization. Since it is not always desirable for every appliance you control to form tunnels to a particular non-Meraki peer, the Availability column allows you to control which appliances within your Organization will connect to each peer. This control is based on network tags, which are labels you can apply to your Dashboard networks.

When "All networks" is selected for a peer, all MX-Z appliances in the organization will connect to that peer. When a specific network tag or set of tags is selected, only networks that have one or more of the specified tags will connect to that peer.

More information on network tags can be found here.

VPN Firewall Rules

You can add firewall rules to control what traffic is allowed to pass through the VPN tunnel. These rules will apply to outbound VPN traffic to/from from all MX-Z appliances in the Organization that participate in site-to-site VPN. These rules are configured in the same manner as the Layer 3 firewall rules described on the Firewall Settings page of this documentation. Note that VPN Firewall rules will not apply to inbound traffic or to traffic that is not passing through the VPN. 

Monitoring site-to-site VPN

You can monitor the status of the site-to-site VPN tunnels between your Meraki devices by clicking Security & SD-WAN > Monitor > VPN Status. This page provides real-time status for the configured Meraki site-to-site VPN tunnels. It lists the subnet(s) being exported over the VPN, connectivity information between the MX-Z appliance and the Meraki VPN registry, NAT Traversal information, and the encryption type being used for all tunnels. Additionally, the Site connectivity list provides the following information for remote Meraki VPN peers:

  • Name of the remote Meraki VPN peer.
  • Subnets that are being advertised over the VPN by the remote peer device.
  • Status (whether the peer is currently reachable).
  • Round-trip packet latency over the VPN (in milliseconds).
  • Last time a heartbeat packet was sent to determine the status of the VPN tunnel (in seconds).

This page displays limited information for non-Meraki peers.


Refer to Site-to-site VPN Troubleshooting for common issues and troubleshooting steps.