Terraform: Importing resources from a non-default AWS region

February 4, 2020 – Samuli Seppänen

I recently - again - had to import resources to Terraform (0.11.14) from AWS that were outside of the default AWS region and were managed in a nested (non-root) module. The root module contained the provider configuration, including multiple aliases to allow creation of resources in different regions, as well as the nested module call, here in a very simple version:

provider "aws" {
  region = "us-west-2"
}

provider "aws" {
  region = "us-east-1"
  alias  = "us-east-1"
}

provider "aws" {
  region = "us-west-2"
  alias  = "us-west-2"
}

module "cloud" {
  param = value
}

The goal was to import some aws_ses_email_identity resources into the "cloud" module. So, originally the cloud module had this:

resource "aws_ses_email_identity" "info_example_org" {
  email    = "info@example.org"
  provider = "aws.us-west-2"
}

This look perfectly ok, as the said email identity was in us-west-2. But what does "terraform import" do? Fail miserably:

$ terraform import module.cloud.aws_ses_email_identity.info_example_org info@example.org

module.cloud.aws_ses_email_identity.info_example_org: Importing from ID "info@example.org"…
module.cloud.aws_ses_email_identity.info_example_org: Import complete!                                                                                              
  Imported aws_ses_email_identity (ID: info@example.org)
module.cloud.aws_ses_email_identity.info_example_org: Refreshing state… (ID: info@example.org)

Error: module.cloud.aws_ses_email_identity.info_example_org (import id: info@example.org): 1 error occurred:
        * import module.cloud.aws_ses_email_identity.info_example_org result: 
          info@example.org: aws_ses_email_identity.info_example.org:
          RequestError: send request failed

caused by: Post https://email.us-west-1.amazonaws.com/: dial tcp:
   lookup email.us-west-1.amazonaws.com on 192.168.248.1:53: no such host                                 

The "caused by" line shows that Terraform is reaching out to us-west-1, not us-west-2, when refreshing the state. This is a known problem and the workaround suggested by "apparentlysmart" is rather horrible, quoted in full below:

...I would probably try to work around it like this:

  • Import the resource into the root module, using a provider that has the intended region statically configured.
  • Use terraform state mv to move the state for the imported resource over into the target module.
  • Move the configuration block into the target module too.
  • Run terraform plan to make sure things have settled.

Now this workaround actually does work in the above case, but is really horrible. So basically you hardcode the default provider in the root module to the region your to-be-imported resource resides in, and move the resource in there and remove the custom provider from the resource:

provider "aws" {
   region = "us-west-2"
}

--- snip ---

resource "aws_ses_email_identity" "info_example_org" {
  email    = "info@example.org"
}

Now you can import the resource into the root module:

$ terraform import aws_ses_email_identity.info_example_org info@example.org

Then you change the default provider back to what it was:

provider "aws" {
  region = "us-west-1"
}

Then you move the imported resource to the nested module. Make sure that in the nested module the resource does have the custom provider configuration:

resource "aws_ses_email_identity" "info_example_org" {
email = "info@example.org"
provider = "aws.us-west-2"
}

Then, finally, move the resource in the state file:

$ terraform state mv aws_ses_email_identity.info_example_org module.cloud.aws_ses_email_identity.info_example_org
 Moved aws_ses_email_identity.info_example_org to module.cloud.aws_ses_email_identity.info_example_org

Finally check the "terraform plan" looks sane:

$ terraform plan
--- snip ---
Plan: 0 to add, 0 to change, 0 to destroy.
--- snip ---

Now pray that you do not have to go through this process often, or it will drive you crazy.

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