Connecting an external cluster - Amazon EKS
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Connecting an external cluster

You can connect an external Kubernetes cluster to Amazon EKS by using multiple methods in the following process. This process involves two steps: Registering the cluster with Amazon EKS and installing the eks-connector agent in the cluster.


You must complete the second step within 3 days of completing the first step, before the registration expires.

Connector methods

Not all of the methods to install the agent can be used after each of the methods to register the cluster. The following table lists each of the registration method and which methods for installing the agent can be used.

Step Methods
Register the cluster Amazon Web Services Management Console Amazon Command Line Interface eksctl
Install the agent Helm, YAML manifests Helm, YAML manifests YAML manifests


  • Ensure the Amazon EKS Connector agent role was created. Follow the steps in Creating the Amazon EKS connector agent role.

  • You must have the following permissions to register a cluster:

    • eks:RegisterCluster

    • ssm:CreateActivation

    • ssm:DeleteActivation

    • iam:PassRole

Step 1: Registering the cluster

Amazon CLI
To register your cluster with the Amazon CLI
  • For the Connector configuration, specify your Amazon EKS Connector agent IAM role. For more information, see Required IAM roles for Amazon EKS Connector.

    aws eks register-cluster \ --name my-first-registered-cluster \ --connector-config roleArn=arn:aws-cn:iam::111122223333:role/AmazonEKSConnectorAgentRole,provider="OTHER" \ --region aws-region

    An example output is as follows.

    { "cluster": { "name": "my-first-registered-cluster", "arn": "arn:aws-cn:eks:region:111122223333:cluster/my-first-registered-cluster", "createdAt": 1627669203.531, "ConnectorConfig": { "activationId": "xxxxxxxxACTIVATION_IDxxxxxxxx", "activationCode": "xxxxxxxxACTIVATION_CODExxxxxxxx", "activationExpiry": 1627672543.0, "provider": "OTHER", "roleArn": "arn:aws-cn:iam::111122223333:role/AmazonEKSConnectorAgentRole" }, "status": "CREATING" } }

    You use the aws-region, activationId, and activationCode values in the next step.

Amazon Web Services Management Console
To register your Kubernetes cluster with the console.
  1. Open the Amazon EKS console at

  2. Choose Add cluster and select Register to bring up the configuration page.

  3. On the Configure cluster section, fill in the following fields:

    • Name – A unique name for your cluster.

    • Provider – Choose to display the dropdown list of Kubernetes cluster providers. If you don't know the specific provider, select Other.

    • EKS Connector role – Select the role to use for connecting the cluster.

  4. Select Register cluster.

  5. The Cluster overview page displays. If you want to use the Helm chart, copy the helm install command and continue to the next step. If you want to use the YAML manifest, choose Download YAML file to download the manifest file to your local drive.

    • This is your only opportunity to copy the helm install command or download this file. Don't navigate away from this page, as the link will not be accessible and you must deregister the cluster and start the steps from the beginning.

    • The command or manifest file can be used only once for the registered cluster. If you delete resources from the Kubernetes cluster, you must re-register the cluster and obtain a new manifest file.

    Continue to the next step to apply the manifest file to your Kubernetes cluster.

To register your cluster with eksctl
  1. Register the cluster by providing a name, provider, and region.

    eksctl register cluster --name my-cluster --provider my-provider --region region-code

    Example output:

    2021-08-19 13:47:26 [ℹ]  creating IAM role "eksctl-20210819194112186040"
    2021-08-19 13:47:26 [ℹ]  registered cluster "<name>" successfully
    2021-08-19 13:47:26 [ℹ]  wrote file eks-connector.yaml to <current directory>
    2021-08-19 13:47:26 [ℹ]  wrote file eks-connector-clusterrole.yaml to <current directory>
    2021-08-19 13:47:26 [ℹ]  wrote file eks-connector-console-dashboard-full-access-group.yaml to <current directory>
    2021-08-19 13:47:26 [!]  note: "eks-connector-clusterrole.yaml" and "eks-connector-console-dashboard-full-access-group.yaml" give full EKS Console access to IAM identity "<aws-arn>", edit if required; read for more info
    2021-08-19 13:47:26 [ℹ]  run `kubectl apply -f eks-connector.yaml,eks-connector-clusterrole.yaml,eks-connector-console-dashboard-full-access-group.yaml` before expiry> to connect the cluster

    This creates files on your local computer. These files must be applied to the external cluster within 3 days, or the registration expires.

  2. In a terminal that can access the cluster, apply the eks-connector-binding.yaml file:

    kubectl apply -f eks-connector-binding.yaml

Step 2: Installing the eks-connector agent

Helm chart
  1. If you used the Amazon CLI in the previous step, replace the ACTIVATION_CODE and ACTIVATION_ID in the following command with the activationId, and activationCode values respectively. Replace the aws-region with the Amazon Web Services Region that you used in the previous step. Then run the command to install the eks-connector agent on the registering cluster:

    $ helm install eks-connector \ --namespace eks-connector \ oci:// \ --set eks.activationCode=ACTIVATION_CODE \ --set eks.activationId=ACTIVATION_ID \ --set eks.agentRegion=aws-region

    If you used the Amazon Web Services Management Console in the previous step, use the command that you copied from the previous step that has these values filled in.

  2. Check the healthiness of the installed eks-connector deployment and wait for the status of the registered cluster in Amazon EKS to be ACTIVE.

YAML manifest

Complete the connection by applying the Amazon EKS Connector manifest file to your Kubernetes cluster. To do this, you must use the methods described previously. If the manifest isn't applied within three days, the Amazon EKS Connector registration expires. If the cluster connection expires, the cluster must be deregistered before connecting the cluster again.

  1. Download the Amazon EKS Connector YAML file.

    curl -O
  2. Edit the Amazon EKS Connector YAML file to replace all references of %AWS_REGION%, %EKS_ACTIVATION_ID%, %EKS_ACTIVATION_CODE% with the aws-region, activationId, and activationCode from the output of the previous step.

    The following example command can replace these values.

    sed -i "s~%AWS_REGION%~$aws-region~g; s~%EKS_ACTIVATION_ID%~$EKS_ACTIVATION_ID~g; s~%EKS_ACTIVATION_CODE%~$(echo -n $EKS_ACTIVATION_CODE | base64)~g" eks-connector.yaml

    Ensure that your activation code is in the base64 format.

  3. In a terminal that can access the cluster, you can apply the updated manifest file by running the following command:

    kubectl apply -f eks-connector.yaml
  4. After the Amazon EKS Connector manifest and role binding YAML files are applied to your Kubernetes cluster, confirm that the cluster is now connected.

    aws eks describe-cluster \ --name "my-first-registered-cluster" \ --region AWS_REGION

    The output should include status=ACTIVE.

  5. (Optional) Add tags to your cluster. For more information, see Tagging your Amazon EKS resources.

Next steps

If you have any issues with these steps, see Troubleshooting issues in Amazon EKS Connector.

To grant additional IAM principals access to the Amazon EKS console to view Kubernetes resources in a connected cluster, see Granting access to an IAM principal to view Kubernetes resources on a cluster.