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Environment Variables

Environment variables are variables that are available to your service, based on the environment they're running in. Your service can reference them without having to define them. Environment variables are useful for when you want to pass in data to your service that's specific to a particular environment. For example, your test database name versus your production database name.

Accessing environment variables is usually simply based on the language you're using. Here are some examples of getting an environment variable called DATABASE_NAME in a few different languages.


dbName := os.Getenv("DATABASE_NAME")


var dbName = process.env.DATABASE_NAME;


database_name = os.getenv('DATABASE_NAME')

What are the Default Environment Variables?

By default, the AWS Copilot CLI passes in some default environment variables for your service to use.

  • COPILOT_APPLICATION_NAME - this is the name of the application this service is running in.
  • COPILOT_ENVIRONMENT_NAME - this is the name of the environment the service is running in (test vs prod, for example)
  • COPILOT_SERVICE_NAME - this is the name of the current service.
  • COPILOT_LB_DNS - this is the DNS name of the Load Balancer (if it exists) such as Note: if you're using a custom domain name, this value will still be the Load Balancer's DNS name.
  • COPILOT_SERVICE_DISCOVERY_ENDPOINT - this is the endpoint to add after a service name to talk to another service in your environment via service discovery. The value is {env name}.{app name}.local. For more information about service discovery, check out our Service Discovery guide.

How do I add my own Environment Variables?

Adding your own environment variable is easy. You can add them directly to your manifest in the variables section. The following snippet will pass a environment variable called LOG_LEVEL to your service, with the value set to debug.

# in copilot/{service name}/manifest.yml
  LOG_LEVEL: debug

You can also pass in a specific value for an environment variable based on the environment. We'll follow the same example as above, by setting the log level, but overriding the value to be info in our production environment. Changes to your manifest take effect when you deploy them, so changing them locally is safe.

# in copilot/{service name}/manifest.yml
  LOG_LEVEL: debug

      LOG_LEVEL: info

Here's a quick guide showing you how to add environment variables to your app by editing the manifest 👇

Editing the manifest to add env vars

Additionally, if you want to add environment variables in bulk, you can list them in an env file. And then specify its path (from the root of the workspace) in the env_file field of your manifest.

You may specify an env file at the root of your workspace for the main container, in any sidecar container definition, or under the logging field to pass an environment file to the Firelens sidecar container.

# in copilot/{service name}/manifest.yml
env_file: log.env

And in log.env we could have

#This is a comment and will be ignored
In a sidecar definition:
    image: nginx:latest
    env_file: ./nginx.env
    port: 8080

In the logging container:

  retention: 1
    Name: cloudwatch
    region: us-west-2
    log_group_name: /copilot/logs/
    log_stream_prefix: copilot/
  env_file: ./logging.env

How do I know the name of my DynamoDB table, S3 bucket, RDS database, etc?

When using the Copilot CLI to provision additional AWS resources such as DynamoDB tables, S3 buckets, databases, etc., any output values will be passed in as environment variables to your app. For more information, check out the additional resources guide.