The DHCP employs a connectionless service model, using the User Datagram Protocol (UDP). It is implemented with two UDP port numbers for its operations which are the same as for the BOOTP protocol. UDP port number 67 is the destination port of a server, and UDP port number 68 is used by the client.
DHCP operations fall into four phases: server discovery, IP lease offer, IP request, and IP lease acknowledgment. These stages are often abbreviated as DORA for discovery, offer, request, and acknowledgment.
The DHCP operation begins with clients broadcasting a request. If the client and server are on different subnets, a DHCP Helper or DHCP Relay Agent may be used. Clients requesting renewal of an existing lease may communicate directly via UDP unicast, since the client already has an established IP address at that point.