Error Code Wiki

403 Forbidden

Published in Networking.

The 403 status code, or a Forbidden error, means that the user made a valid request but the server is refusing to serve the request, due to a lack of permission to access the requested resource. If you are encountering a 403 error unexpectedly, there are a few typical causes that are explained here.

File Permissions

403 errors commonly occur when the user that is running the web server process does not have sufficient permissions to read the file that is being accessed.

To give an example of troubleshooting a 403 error, assume the following situation:

  • The user is trying to access the web server’s index file, from
  • The web server worker process is owned by the www-data user
  • On the server, the index file is located at /usr/share/nginx/html/index.html

If the user is getting a 403 Forbidden error, ensure that the www-data user has sufficient permissions to read the file. Typically, this means that the other permissions of the file should be set to read. There are several ways to ensure this, but the following command will work in this case:

sudo chmod o=r /usr/share/nginx/html/index.html


Another potential cause of 403 errors, often intentinally, is the use of an .htaccess file. The .htaccess file can be used to deny access of certain resources to specific IP addresses or ranges, for example.

If the user is unexpectedly getting a 403 Forbidden error, ensure that it is not being caused by your .htaccess settings.

Index File Does Not Exist

If the user is trying to access a directory that does not have a default index file, and directory listings are not enabled, the web server will return a 403 Forbidden error. For example, if the user is trying to access, and there is no index file in the emptydir directory on the server, a 403 status will be returned.

If you want directory listings to be enabled, you may do so in your web server configuration.