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Trace API general requirements and limits

Information about Trace API data requirements, including:

  • Data specifications and max limits
  • Required metadata (headers, query parameters)
  • Response validation details

This document applies to the Trace API overall. For rules regarding specific data formats, see:


All trace data is sent via HTTPS POST to a Trace API endpoint. We have a few endpoints, depending on your setup:

Data formats

Currently, the Trace API accepts two types of data formats:

Restricted attributes

The attributes in the table below are restricted in the newrelic-format JSON (in the attributes block) and in the zipkin-format JSON (in the tags block). Any values with these keys will be omitted:

Restricted attribute




Unique identifier for the entity that created this span. Generated from service.name, if available.



Used for backwards compatibility with data from agents.

The attributes in the table below are used internally to identify entities. Any values submitted with these keys in the attributes section of a metric data point may cause undefined behavior such as missing entities in the UI or telemetry not associating with the expected entities. For more information please refer to Entity synthesis:

Restricted attribute




Unique identifier for the entity associated with this span.



Human-readable name of an entity, often used to identify an entity in the UI.



Used to differentiate between different types of entities, like hosts, applications, etc.

Request metadata (headers and query parameters)

The following table shows the required request metadata for all trace data formats. This metadata can be sent as HTTP headers on an ingest request or, in some cases, provided as query parameters, which may be required for tracing frameworks that don't allow header modification.


Security note: We suggest using headers because query parameters are present in the URL and may be logged before being encrypted and received by New Relic. All data sent as query parameters must be URL-safe.


Query param?




Required. Must be application/json.



Required. The length of the request body in octets (8-bit bytes) unless sent with chunked encoding. This header is generally set by default by the underlying HTTP client sending the data and in most cases should not require any additional effort by the end user.


Yes (case-sensitive)

Required. The Trace API requires a . If this is provided as both a header and a query parameter, the values must match.



Required if compressed payload. The value must be gzip.



Required for zipkin. Optional for newrelic.

If present, Data-Format-Version must also be present.



Required for zipkin.

If present, Data-Format must also be present.

There are only two possible pairings for these values:

  • If Data-Format is zipkin, Data-Format-Version must be 2.
  • If Data-Format is newrelic, Data-Format-Version must be 1.



Optional - Reserved for future use. The value must be a valid UUID4. The value is expected to be unique for each request.

Response validation

A response for successfully sending trace data will include a requestId. For example:

{ "requestId": "c1bb62fc-001a-b000-0000-016bb152e1bb" }

There are two ways success/errors are signaled:

  • HTTP status code (synchronous). Authentication and request errors will be signaled via HTTP status code.

  • NrIntegrationError events (asynchronous). Errors with the JSON payload or other semantic errors are asynchronously signaled via NrIntegrationError events that are stored in the account whose is associated with the request. For all errors of this type, the attribute newRelicFeature will be Distributed Tracing and requestId will be the requestId from the endpoint response.

If you receive a 202 response and don't see an NrIntegrationError event, your data should be visible in our global distributed tracing UI in about a minute. You should be able to find the trace using a standard trace search like:


Data limits

For trace-related limits, see How distributed tracing works.

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