A question on GroupStudy gave me an idea for the short post dedicated to explaining the use of DHCP “import all” command. The command first appeared in IOS 12.2T. It allows importing certain DHCP information learned from some external source, such as another DHCP server. This is helpful in reducing the amount of configuration needed in large hub-and-spoke networks, where spokes use centralized servers (e.g. WINS, DNS, TFTP). Instead of configuring the repetitive settings in every spoke router, you may import them by requesting an IP address for the router via DHCP. More than that, any change in central configuration could be easily imported in the remote routers, using DHCP address refresh. Here is how it works:

1) The router requests an IP address on its WAN interface via DHCP. In addition to the IP/subnet information, the router also learns other DHCP information, such as various DHCP options (DNS, WIN, TFTP IP addresses). This is store with the local DHCP client configuration.
2) The is a local pool configured in the router, with the subnet corresponding to the local Ethernet interface (say office network). This pool is configured with the statement “import all”.
3) By the virtue of “import all” statement and the default “origin dhcp” setting, the local pool imports the information learned by the router’s DHCP client. The imported information does not preempt the local subnet and mask, but instead add missing information.
4) Every time the DHCP lease expires, the router will re-request it, thus re-learning all other information as well.

As an alternative to using the DHCP it is possible to use IPCP for information import, if the WAN link uses PPP protocol (e.g. PPPoE). You simply need the statement “ip address negotiated” on the PPP link plus configured “origin ipcp” under the DHCP pool. Notice that the amount of IPCP options is much smaller than that of DHCP. However, you may still send WINS and DNS servers IP addresses, and even the netmask, using the command “ppp ipcp mask”. See the post The myster of “PPP IPCP mask request command” for more information on this command.

Here is a sample configuration.

R1 is the DHCP client to R3. The server has a DCHP pool for subnet configured, with TFTP, DNS and WINS servers set. All servers belong to the Ethernet segment connected to R3. R1 imports those settings from R3. Notice the use of the Dialer interface in R1 – you cannot configure “ip address dhcp” on the physical interface, as this feature was intended for use with PPPoE/PPPoA interfaces. Also, pay attention to the “ip unnumbered” command on R3′s PPP interface. It is important to have this command, so that incoming DHCP REQ packets are matched against R3′s DHCP pool.

interface Serial0/1
 no ip address
 encapsulation ppp
 dialer in-band
 dialer pool-member 1
interface Dialer1
 ip address dhcp
 dialer pool 1
ip dhcp pool LOCAL
   import all
interface FastEthernet0/0
 ip address
ip dhcp pool POOL
   option 150 ip
interface FastEthernet0/0
 ip address
interface Serial1/2
 ip unnumbered FastEthernet0/0
 encapsulation ppp
 clock rate 128000

And now some quick verifications:

R1#show ip dhcp pool 

Pool LOCAL :
 Utilization mark (high/low)    : 100 / 0
 Subnet size (first/next)       : 0 / 0
 Total addresses                : 254
 Leased addresses               : 0
 Pending event                  : none
 1 subnet is currently in the pool :
 Current index        IP address range                    Leased addresses            -        0

R1#show ip dhcp import

Address Pool Name: LOCAL
Domain Name Server(s):
NetBIOS Name Server(s):
TFTP Server Address Option:

R3#show ip dhcp binding
Bindings from all pools not associated with VRF:
IP address          Client-ID/              Lease expiration        Type
                    Hardware address/
                    User name            0063.6973.636f.2d30.    May 04 2009 10:21 AM    Automatic

And last, but not least. It is possible to import the DHCP pool information from a RADIUS server, which sounds pretty attractive. However, we do not provide an example in this post. Maybe next time :)

About Petr Lapukhov, 4xCCIE/CCDE:

Petr Lapukhov's career in IT begain in 1988 with a focus on computer programming, and progressed into networking with his first exposure to Novell NetWare in 1991. Initially involved with Kazan State University's campus network support and UNIX system administration, he went through the path of becoming a networking consultant, taking part in many network deployment projects. Petr currently has over 12 years of experience working in the Cisco networking field, and is the only person in the world to have obtained four CCIEs in under two years, passing each on his first attempt. Petr is an exceptional case in that he has been working with all of the technologies covered in his four CCIE tracks (R&S, Security, SP, and Voice) on a daily basis for many years. When not actively teaching classes, developing self-paced products, studying for the CCDE Practical & the CCIE Storage Lab Exam, and completing his PhD in Applied Mathematics.

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3 Responses to “Using the DHCP Import statement”

  1. nowy1981 says:

    Once again thanks for clear clarification.


  2. bigzaqui says:

    thanks for the info

  3. Felix says:


    Thank you for the post. One “feature” that could be done with local DHCP is overcoming inability of PPP to negotiate subnet.
    When using OSPF and setting network type to broadcast, OSPF will see a different subnet mask on link with addresses derived by IPCP. Tried to find solution in sending subnet info and couldn’t find vie IPCP. Somebody showed me “workaround” with using local DHCP to assign IP address to the interface and using import all vis IPCP. Works fine. One of the limitation that I see, you can’t use /31 addresses max mask accepted is /30.


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