SIP Glossary

December 20th, 2017 by admin


An address-of-record (AOR) is a SIP or SIPS URI that points to a domain with a location service that can map the URI to another URI where the user might be available. Typically, the location service is populated through registrations. An AOR is frequently thought of as the "public address" of the user.

Back-to-Back User Agent

A back-to-back user agent (B2BUA) is a logical entity that receives a request and processes it as a user agent server (UAS). In order to determine how the request should be answered, it acts as a user agent client (UAC) and generates requests. Unlike a proxy server, it maintains dialog state and must participate in all requests sent on the dialogs it has established. Since it is a concatenation of a UAC and UAS, no explicit definitions are needed for its behavior.


A call is an informal term that refers to some communication between peers, generally set up for the purposes of a multimedia conversation.

Call Leg

Another name for a dialog; no longer used in the SIP specification.

Call Stateful

A proxy is call stateful if it retains state for a dialog from the initiating INVITE to the terminating BYE request. A call stateful proxy is always transaction stateful, but the converse is not necessarily true.


A client is any network element that sends SIP requests and receives SIP responses. Clients may or may not interact directly with a human user. User agent clients and proxies are clients.


A multimedia session (see below) that contains multiple participants.


Core designates the functions specific to a particular type of SIP entity, i.e., specific to either a stateful or stateless proxy, a user agent or registrar. All cores, except those for the stateless proxy, are transaction users.


A dialog is a peer-to-peer SIP relationship between two UAs that persists for some time. A dialog is established by SIP messages, such as a 2xx response to an INVITE request. A dialog is identified by a call identifier, local tag, and a remote tag. A dialog was formerly known as a call leg in RFC 2543.


A direction of message forwarding within a transaction that refers to the direction that requests flow from the user agent client to user agent server.

Final Response

A response that terminates a SIP transaction, as opposed to a provisional response that does not. All 2xx, 3xx, 4xx, 5xx and 6xx responses are final.


A header is a component of a SIP message that conveys information about the message. It is structured as a sequence of header fields.

Header Field

A header field is a component of the SIP message header. A header field can appear as one or more header field rows. Header field rows consist of a header field name and zero or more header field values. Multiple header field values on a given header field row are separated by commas. Some header fields can only have a single header field value, and as a result, always appear as a single header field row.

Header Field Value

A header field value is a single value; a header field consists of zero or more header field values.

Home Domain

The domain providing service to a SIP user. Typically, this is the domain present in the URI in the address-of-record of a registration.

Informational Response

Same as a provisional response.

Initiator, Calling Party, Caller

The party initiating a session (and dialog) with an INVITE request. A caller retains this role from the time it sends the initial INVITE that established a dialog until the termination of that dialog.


An INVITE request.

INVITEe, INVITEd User, Called Party, Callee

The party that receives an INVITE request for the purpose of establishing a new session. A callee retains this role from the time it receives the INVITE until the termination of the dialog established by that INVITE.

Location Service

A location service is used by a SIP redirect or proxy server to obtain information about a caller's possible location(s). It contains a list of bindings of address-of-record keys to zero or more contact addresses. The bindings can be created and removed in many ways; this specification defines a REGISTER method that updates the bindings .


A request that arrives at a proxy, is forwarded, and later arrives back at the same proxy. When it arrives the second time, its Request-URI is identical to the first time, and other header fields that affect proxy operation are unchanged, so that the proxy would make the same processing decision on the request it made the first time. Looped requests are errors, and the procedures for detecting them and handling them are described by the protocol.

Loose Routing

A proxy is said to be loose routing if it follows the procedures defined in this specification for processing of the Route header field . These procedures separate the destination of the request (present in the Request-URI) from the set of proxies that need to be visited along the way (present in the Route header field). A proxy compliant to these mechanisms is also known as a loose router.


Data sent between SIP elements as part of the protocol. SIP messages are either requests or responses.


The method is the primary function that a request is meant to invoke on a server. The method is carried in the request message itself. Example methods are INVITE and BYE.

Outbound Proxy

A proxy that receives requests from a client, even though it may not be the server resolved by the Request-URI. Typically, a UA is manually configured with an outbound proxy, or can learn about one through auto-configuration protocols.

Parallel Search

In a parallel search, a proxy issues several requests to possible user locations upon receiving an incoming request. Rather than issuing one request and then waiting for the final response before issuing the next request as in a sequential search, a parallel search issues requests without waiting for the result of previous requests.

Provisional Response

A response used by the server to indicate progress, but that does not terminate a SIP transaction. 1xx responses are provisional, other responses are considered final.

Proxy, Proxy Server

An intermediary entity that acts as both a server and a client for the purpose of making requests on behalf of other clients. A proxy server primarily plays the role of routing, which means its job is to ensure that a request is sent to another entity "closer" to the targeted user. Proxies are also useful for enforcing policy (for example, making sure a user is allowed to make a call). A proxy interprets, and, if necessary, rewrites specific parts of a request message before forwarding it.


A client recurses on a 3xx response when it generates a new request to one or more of the URIs in the Contact header field in the response.

Redirect Server

A redirect server is a user agent server that generates 3xx responses to requests it receives, directing the client to contact an alternate set of URIs.


A registrar is a server that accepts REGISTER requests and places the information it receives in those requests into the location service for the domain it handles.

Regular Transaction

A regular transaction is any transaction with a method other than INVITE, ACK, or CANCEL.


A SIP message sent from a client to a server, for the purpose of invoking a particular operation.


A SIP message sent from a server to a client, for indicating the status of a request sent from the client to the server.


Ringback is the signaling tone produced by the calling party's application indicating that a called party is being alerted (ringing).

Route Set

A route set is a collection of ordered SIP or SIPS URI which represent a list of proxies that must be traversed when sending a particular request. A route set can be learned, through headers like Record-Route, or it can be configured.


A server is a network element that receives requests in order to service them and sends back responses to those requests. Examples of servers are proxies, user agent servers, redirect servers, and registrars.

Sequential Search

In a sequential search, a proxy server attempts each contact address in sequence, proceeding to the next one only after the previous has generated a final response. A 2xx or 6xx class final response always terminates a sequential search.


From the SDP specification: "A multimedia session is a set of multimedia senders and receivers and the data streams flowing from senders to receivers. A multimedia conference is an example of a multimedia session." (RFC 2327 (A session as defined for SDP can comprise one or more RTP sessions.) As defined, a callee can be INVITEd several times, by different calls, to the same session. If SDP is used, a session is defined by the concatenation of the SDP user name, session id, network type, address type, and address elements in the origin field.

SIP Transaction

A SIP transaction occurs between a client and a server and comprises all messages from the first request sent from the client to the server up to a final (non-1xx) response sent from the server to the client. If the request is INVITE and the final response is a non-2xx, the transaction also includes an ACK to the response. The ACK for a 2xx response to an INVITE request is a separate transaction.


A spiral is a SIP request that is routed to a proxy, forwarded onwards, and arrives once again at that proxy, but this time differs in a way that will result in a different processing decision than the original request. Typically, this means that the request's Request-URI differs from its previous arrival. A spiral is not an error condition, unlike a loop. A typical cause for this is call forwarding. A user calls The proxy forwards it to Joe's PC, which in turn, forwards it to This request is proxied back to the proxy. However, this is not a loop. Since the request is targeted at a different user, it is considered a spiral, and is a valid condition.

Stateful Proxy

A logical entity that maintains the client and server transaction state machines defined by this specification during the processing of a request, also known as a transaction stateful proxy. The behavior of a stateful proxy is further defined in Section 16. A (transaction) stateful proxy is not the same as a call stateful proxy .

Stateless Proxy

A logical entity that does not maintain the client or server transaction state machines defined in this specification when it processes requests. A stateless proxy forwards every request it receives downstream and every response it receives upstream .

Strict Routing

A proxy is said to be strict routing if it follows the Route processing rules of RFC 2543 and many prior work in progress versions of this RFC. That rule caused proxies to destroy the contents of the Request-URI when a Route header field was present . Strict routing behavior is not used in this specification, in favor of a loose routing behavior. Proxies that perform strict routing are also known as strict routers.

Target Refresh Request

A target refresh request sent within a dialog is defined as a request that can modify the remote target of the dialog.

Transaction User (TU)

The layer of protocol processing that resides above the transaction layer. Transaction users include the UAC core, UAS core, and proxy core.


A direction of message forwarding within a transaction that refers to the direction that responses flow from the user agent server back to the user agent client .


A character string encoded according to RFC 2396, Section 2.4.

User Agent Client (UAC)

A user agent client is a logical entity that creates a new request, and then uses the client transaction state machinery to send it. The role of UAC lasts only for the duration of that transaction. In other words, if a piece of software initiates a request, it acts as a UAC for the duration of that transaction. If it receives a request later, it assumes the role of a user agent server for the processing of that transaction .

UAC Core

The set of processing functions required of a UAC that reside above the transaction and transport layers.

User Agent Server (UAS)

A user agent server is a logical entity that generates a response to a SIP request. The response accepts, rejects, or redirects the request. This role lasts only for the duration of that transaction. In other words, if a piece of software responds to a request, it acts as a UAS for the duration of that transaction. If it generates a request later, it assumes the role of a user agent client for the processing of that transaction.

UAS Core

The set of processing functions required at a UAS that resides above the transaction and transport layers.

User Agent (UA)

A logical entity that can act as both a user agent client and user agent server.

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