What is the OAuth 2.0 Bearer Token exactly?

Bearer Token
A security token with the property that any party in possession of the token (a “bearer”) can use the token in any way that any other party in possession of it can. Using a bearer token does not require a bearer to prove possession of cryptographic key material (proof-of-possession).

The Bearer Token is created for you by the Authentication server. When a user authenticates your application (client) the authentication server then goes and generates for you a Token. Bearer Tokens are the predominant type of access token used with OAuth 2.0. A Bearer token basically says “Give the bearer of this token access”.

The Bearer Token is normally some kind of opaque value created by the authentication server. It isn’t random; it is created based upon the user giving you access and the client your application getting access.

In order to access an API for example you need to use an Access Token. Access tokens are short lived (around an hour). You use the bearer token to get a new Access token. To get an access token you send the Authentication server this bearer token along with your client id. This way the server knows that the application using the bearer token is the same application that the bearer token was created for. Example: I can’t just take a bearer token created for your application and use it with my application it wont work because it wasn’t generated for me.

Google Refresh token looks something like this: 1/mZ1edKKACtPAb7zGlwSzvs72PvhAbGmB8K1ZrGxpcNM

copied from comment: I don’t think there are any restrictions on the bearer tokens you supply. Only thing I can think of is that its nice to allow more than one. For example a user can authenticate the application up to 30 times and the old bearer tokens will still work. oh and if one hasn’t been used for say 6 months I would remove it from your system. It’s your authentication server that will have to generate them and validate them so how it’s formatted is up to you.


A Bearer Token is set in the Authorization header of every Inline Action HTTP Request. For example:

POST /rsvp?eventId=123 HTTP/1.1
Host: events-organizer.com
Authorization: Bearer AbCdEf123456
Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/1.0 (KHTML, like Gecko; Gmail Actions)


The string "AbCdEf123456" in the example above is the bearer authorization token. This is a cryptographic token produced by the authentication server. All bearer tokens sent with actions have the issue field, with the audience field specifying the sender domain as a URL of the form https://. For example, if the email is from [email protected], the audience is https://example.com.

If using bearer tokens, verify that the request is coming from the authentication server and is intended for the the sender domain. If the token doesn’t verify, the service should respond to the request with an HTTP response code 401 (Unauthorized).

Bearer Tokens are part of the OAuth V2 standard and widely adopted by many APIs.

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