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Authentication is a basic mechanism for secure roaming in wireless mesh networks (WMNs). However, existing roaming authentication protocols such as 3G, IEEE 802.1x, etc. cannot meet the requirement for secure and fast network access in response to rapid increase in the size of networks and in the number of users. In this paper, we propose an instant authentication scheme for secure roaming in WMNs in which information exchange between a visited network and the home network is not required for inter-network roaming authentication. To achieve the goal, the security scheme relies on an elaborate design of the public key distribution plan. Furthermore, a user needs to authenticate with the authentication center of the visited network only once on the first visit to the network. Our simulation results show that the proposed scheme performs better in authentication latency as well as in security when compared to some existing roaming authentication methods.