Access-Control-Allow-Origin: Dealing with CORS Errors in React and Express

By Dave Ceddia

Getting this error in your React and/or Express app?

No ‘Access-Control-Allow-Origin’ header is present on the requested resource.

You’ve run afoul of the Same Origin Policy – it says that every AJAX request must match the exact host, protocol, and port of your site. Things that might cause this:

  • Hitting a server from a locally-served file (a request from file:///YourApp/index.html to
  • Hitting an external API (a request from to
  • Hitting an internal API (a request from to
  • Hitting a different port on the same host (webapp is on http://localhost:3000, API is http://localhost:4000)
  • Requesting over http from https or vice-versa (requesting from

To be clear, this is not a React error. It afflicts all web apps equally, and most of the fixes we’ll look at below are actually modifying the server or the browser.

If you’re new to React, you might like my complete React tutorial. It covers all the bases (what props are, how JSX works, how to useState and fetch data with useEffect) to get you going quickly.

How to fix it

Here are a few ways to solve this problem.

Best: CORS header (requires server changes)

CORS (Cross-Origin Resource Sharing) is a way for the server to say “I will accept your request, even though you came from a different origin.” This requires cooperation from the server – so if you can’t modify the server (e.g. if you’re using an external API), this approach won’t work.

Modify the server to add the header Access-Control-Allow-Origin: * to enable cross-origin requests from anywhere (or specify a domain instead of *). This should solve your problem.

How to Enable CORS on Express

If you’re using Express, the easiest way to enable CORS is with the cors library.

You just need to install it in your Express project with npm install cors, then require it and add it as a middleware:

var express = require('express');
// Import the library:
var cors = require('cors');

var app = express();

// Then use it before your routes are set up:

Two important things to know here:

  • Express runs its middleware in order. So make sure this app.use code runs before you set up your routes.
  • By default, the cors library will allow requests from any origin. This can open you up to security problems and abuse.

For production use, it’s best not to allow all origins. Instead, create a whitelist of allowed domains, and check each request against the whitelist. Here’s how:

// Set up a whitelist and check against it:
var whitelist = ['', '']
var corsOptions = {
  origin: function (origin, callback) {
    if (whitelist.indexOf(origin) !== -1) {
      callback(null, true)
    } else {
      callback(new Error('Not allowed by CORS'))

// Then pass them to cors:
2nd choice: Proxy Server

If you can’t modify the server, you can run your own proxy. And this proxy can return the Access-Control-Allow-Origin header if it’s not at the Same Origin as your page.

Instead of sending API requests to some remote server, you’ll make requests to your proxy, which will forward them to the remote server. Here are a few proxy options.

3rd choice: JSONP (requires server support)

If CORS and the proxy server don’t work for you, JSONP may help. You essentially make a GET request with a callback parameter:


The server will wrap the JSON reply in a function call to your callback, where you can handle it:

foo({"your": "json", here: true})

There are some downsides, notably that JSONP only supports GET requests and that you still need a cooperative server.

Dev-Only: Disable Same Origin

If this is only for development or learning purposes, the easiest thing to do is to disable the Same Origin Policy in your browser. Be aware that if you do this, you’re opening your browser up to security risks. Follow these instructions:

This is more of a last resort. Modifying the server to support CORS or running a proxy are the best approaches.

Armed and Dangerous

You’re all set now to tackle any Access-Control-Allow-Origin errors that come your way!

Learning React can be a struggle — so many libraries and tools!
My advice? Ignore all of them :)
For a step-by-step approach, check out my Pure React workshop.

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Dave Ceddia’s Pure React is a work of enormous clarity and depth. Hats off. I'm a React trainer in London and would thoroughly recommend this to all front end devs wanting to upskill or consolidate.

Alan Lavender
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