Practical Approach for OpenVPN CA Certificate Renewal

2 minute read

If you’re managing an OpenVPN infrastructure and your CA (Certificate Authority) certificate is nearing expiration, a practical approach can help you smoothly transition to a new CA certificate without disruptions. This method is particularly useful for self-signed CA certificates, where maintaining service continuity is essential.


The goal is to generate a new CA certificate with an extended expiration date while retaining the same public key. By doing so, previously issued certificates remain valid, ensuring uninterrupted service. The key steps involve generating a new CA certificate, updating the public certificate on both the server and client sides, and distributing the updated configurations.


  1. Generate New CA Certificate:
    • Using the existing CA key and CSR (Certificate Signing Request), generate a new CA certificate with an extended expiration date.
      openssl ca -keyfile existing_ca_key.pem -in csr.pem -out new_ca_cert.pem -days 3650
  2. Update Server Configuration:
    • Replace the old public certificate in the OpenVPN server configuration with the new one.
      # Replace 'ca old_ca_cert.pem' with 'ca new_ca_cert.pem' in the server configuration file.
  3. Update Client Configurations:
    • Similarly, replace the old public certificate in the OpenVPN client configurations with the new one.
      # Replace 'ca old_ca_cert.pem' with 'ca new_ca_cert.pem' in the client configuration file(s).
  4. Distribute Configurations:
    • Distribute the updated server and client configurations to all relevant systems. Ensure that all clients have the latest configurations with the new CA certificate.
  5. Test Connectivity:
    • Thoroughly test connectivity to ensure that the OpenVPN infrastructure is functioning correctly with the new certificates. Verify that clients can connect to the server without any issues.
  6. Monitor for Issues:
    • Monitor the OpenVPN infrastructure closely for any anomalies or issues following the certificate renewal. Address any issues promptly to minimize disruptions.
  7. Implement Certificate Expiry Monitoring:
    • It’s good practice to implement monitoring for certificate expiration to anticipate future renewals. This ensures that you can act well in advance of the CA certificate’s expiration, minimizing the risk of service disruptions. Consider setting up alerts or automated checks to monitor certificate expiry dates.


  • Smooth Transition: By retaining the same public key while extending the CA certificate’s expiration date, service disruptions are minimized.
  • Simplified Management: Administrators only need to update the CA certificate, reducing complexity during the transition process.
  • Continuous Service: Clients can seamlessly continue using the OpenVPN service without interruptions or manual intervention. There is no need for clients to reissue their certificates with the new CA, avoiding mass client certificate reissuance.


Renewing an OpenVPN CA certificate doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With a practical approach that preserves the existing public key, you can ensure uninterrupted service while maintaining security. By following these steps, you can smoothly transition to a new CA certificate without disrupting operations. Additionally, implementing certificate expiry monitoring ensures proactive management of future renewals.

Feel free to adjust or expand upon this article as needed for your specific audience or context.