In order to reach the IPv6 Internet, an isolated host or network must be able to use the existing IPv4 infrastructure to carry IPv6 packets. This is done using a technique known as tunneling which consists of encapsulating IPv6 packets within IPv4, in effect using IPv4 as a link layer for IPv6.

IPv6 packets can be directly encapsulated within IPv4 packets using protocol number 41. They can also be encapsulated within UDP packets e.g. in order to cross a router or NAT device that blocks protocol 41 traffic. They can of course also use generic encapsulation schemes, such as AYIYA or GRE.