It’s unreasonably difficult to find information about working with custom taxonomies and their terms in the WordPress REST API. It would be easy to conclude that it’s not possible or that one has to create a custom endpoint to achieve that functionality.
It ends up being fairly straightforward, so I’m sharing what I learned here in case it saves someone else time.
The developer REST API reference endpoint list doesn’t make any obvious reference to custom taxonomies or terms. If you end up on the tags endpoint reference page, you’ll see that there’s a way to work with these terms in the standard
post_tag taxonomy, but no way to specify a custom taxonomy during write operations. There’s actually a taxonomies endpoint reference page that doesn’t seem to be linked to from the main navigation anywhere, but can be found in a search; still, nothing on it about working with terms in those taxonomies.
But eventually you’ll find your way to the page Adding REST API Support For Custom Content Types, which has a section Registering A Custom Taxonomy With REST API Support that finally makes it clear that in order to work with custom taxonomies in the REST API, you have to enable/create an endpoint for that purpose.
In your custom taxonomy definition, it ends up being pretty simple with these additional arguments to the
'show_in_rest' => true, 'rest_base' => 'my-taxonomy-api-slug', 'rest_controller_class' => 'WP_REST_Terms_Controller',
The second two are optional, where you can define the REST API url slug and controller you want to use; if you leave them out it will use the default terms controller and a slug derived from your taxonomy definition.
With this code in place, you’ll now have two new REST API endpoints available:
You can then essentially treat those the same way as the tags endpoints, getting/posting to create, update and retrieve terms in that custom taxonomy. For example, to create a new term:
POST https://example.test/wp-json/wp/v2/my-taxonomy-api-slug slug:my-first-term name:My First Term
I’ve submitted a pull request to the WP API docs to add at least one pointer in the documentation to help others on a similar quest get there faster.
Updated May 3 @ 11:49 AM Eastern to note that the second two taxonomy registration options
rest_controller_class are optional to define, thanks to Marcus Kober for noting this.