SAML SSO for GitLab.com groups (PREMIUM SAAS)

Introduced in GitLab 11.0.

This page describes SAML for groups. For instance-wide SAML on self-managed GitLab instances, see SAML OmniAuth Provider. View the differences between SaaS and Self-Managed Authentication and Authorization Options.

SAML on GitLab.com allows users to sign in through their SAML identity provider. If the user is not already a member, the sign-in process automatically adds the user to the appropriate group.

User synchronization of SAML SSO groups is supported through SCIM. SCIM supports adding and removing users from the GitLab group automatically. For example, if you remove a user from the SCIM app, SCIM removes that same user from the GitLab group.

SAML SSO is only configurable at the top-level group.

If required, you can find a glossary of common terms.

Configure your identity provider

  1. Find the information in GitLab required for configuration:
    1. On the top bar, select Main menu > Groups and find your group.
    2. On the left sidebar, select Settings > SAML SSO.
    3. Note the Assertion consumer service URL, Identifier, and GitLab single sign-on URL.
  2. Configure your SAML identity provider app using the noted details. Alternatively, GitLab provides a metadata XML configuration. See specific identity provider documentation for more details.
  3. Configure the SAML response to include a NameID that uniquely identifies each user.
  4. Configure the required user attributes, ensuring you include the user's email address.
  5. While the default is enabled for most SAML providers, ensure the app is set to have service provider initiated calls to link existing GitLab accounts.
  6. Once the identity provider is set up, move on to configuring GitLab.

Issuer and callback for configuring SAML identity provider with GitLab.com

If your account is the only owner in the group after SAML is set up, you can't unlink the account. To unlink the account, set up another user as a group owner.

NameID

GitLab.com uses the SAML NameID to identify users. The NameID element:

  • Is a required field in the SAML response.
  • Must be unique to each user.
  • Must be a persistent value that never changes, such as a randomly generated unique user ID.
  • Is case sensitive. The NameID must match exactly on subsequent login attempts, so should not rely on user input that could change between upper and lower case.
  • Should not be an email address or username. We strongly recommend against these as it's hard to guarantee it doesn't ever change, for example, when a person's name changes. Email addresses are also case-insensitive, which can result in users being unable to sign in.

The relevant field name and recommended value for supported providers are in the provider specific notes. appropriate corresponding field.

WARNING: Once users have signed into GitLab using the SSO SAML setup, changing the NameID breaks the configuration and potentially locks users out of the GitLab group.

NameID Format

We recommend setting the NameID format to Persistent unless using a field (such as email) that requires a different format. Most NameID formats can be used, except Transient due to the temporary nature of this format.

User attributes

To create users with the correct information for improved user access and management, the user's details must be passed to GitLab as attributes in the SAML assertion. At a minimum, the user's email address must be specified as an attribute named email or mail.

You can configure the following attributes with GitLab.com Group SAML:

  • username or nickname. We recommend you configure only one of these.
  • The attributes available to self-managed GitLab instances.

Metadata configuration

GitLab provides metadata XML that can be used to configure your identity provider.

  1. On the top bar, select Main menu > Groups and find your group.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Settings > SAML SSO.
  3. Copy the provided GitLab metadata URL.
  4. Follow your identity provider's documentation and paste the metadata URL when it's requested.

Configure GitLab

After you set up your identity provider to work with GitLab, you must configure GitLab to use it for authentication:

  1. On the top bar, select Main menu > Groups and find your group.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Settings > SAML SSO.
  3. Find the SSO URL from your identity provider and enter it the Identity provider single sign-on URL field.
  4. Find and enter the fingerprint for the SAML token signing certificate in the Certificate field.
  5. Select the access level to be applied to newly added users in the Default membership role field. The default access level is 'Guest'.
  6. Select the Enable SAML authentication for this group checkbox.
  7. Select the Save changes button.

Group SAML Settings for GitLab.com

NOTE: The certificate fingerprint algorithm must be in SHA1. When configuring the identity provider (such as Google Workspace), use a secure signature algorithm.

Additional configuration information

Many SAML terms can vary between providers. It is possible that the information you are looking for is listed under another name.

For more information, start with your identity provider's documentation. Look for their options and examples to see how they configure SAML. This can provide hints on what you need to configure GitLab to work with these providers.

It can also help to look at our more detailed docs for self-managed GitLab. SAML configuration for GitLab.com is mostly the same as for self-managed instances. However, self-managed GitLab instances use a configuration file that supports more options as described in the external OmniAuth SAML documentation. Internally that uses the ruby-saml library, so we sometimes check there to verify low level details of less commonly used options.

It can also help to compare the XML response from your provider with our example XML used for internal testing.

SSO enforcement

  • Introduced in GitLab 11.8.
  • Improved in GitLab 11.11 with ongoing enforcement in the GitLab UI.
  • Improved in GitLab 13.8, with an updated timeout experience.
  • Improved in GitLab 13.8 with allowing group owners to not go through SSO.
  • Improved in GitLab 13.11 with enforcing open SSO session to use Git if this setting is switched on.
  • Improved in GitLab 14.7 to not enforce SSO checks for Git activity originating from CI/CD jobs.
  • Improved in GitLab 15.5 with a flag named transparent_sso_enforcement to include transparent enforcement even when SSO enforcement is not enabled. Disabled on GitLab.com.

FLAG: On self-managed GitLab, transparent SSO enforcement is unavailable. On GitLab.com, transparent SSO enforcement is unavailable and can be configured by GitLab.com administrators only.

SSO is enforced when users access groups and projects in the organization's group hierarchy. Users can view other groups and projects without SSO sign in.

SSO is enforced for each user with an existing SAML identity when the following is enabled:

  • SAML SSO.
  • The :transparent_sso_enforcement feature flag.

A user has a SAML identity if one or both of the following are true:

  • They have signed in to GitLab by using their GitLab group's single sign-on URL.
  • They were provisioned by SCIM.

Users without SAML identities are not required to use SSO unless explicit enforcement is enabled.

When the Enforce SSO-only authentication for web activity for this group option is enabled, all users must access GitLab by using their GitLab group's single sign-on URL to access group resources, regardless of whether they have an existing SAML identity. Users also cannot be added as new members manually. Users with the Owner role can use the standard sign in process to make necessary changes to top-level group settings.

However, users are not prompted to sign in through SSO on each visit. GitLab checks whether a user has authenticated through SSO. If it's been more than 1 day since the last sign-in, GitLab prompts the user to sign in again through SSO.

When the transparent SSO enforcement feature flag is enabled, SSO is enforced as follows:

Project/Group visibility Enforce SSO setting Member with identity Member without identity Non-member or not signed in
Private Off Enforced Not enforced No access
Private On Enforced Enforced No access
Public Off Enforced Not enforced Not enforced
Public On Enforced Enforced Not enforced

An issue exists to add a similar SSO requirement for API activity.

SSO enforcement has the following effects when enabled:

  • For groups, users can't share a project in the group outside the top-level group, even if the project is forked.
  • For Git activity over SSH and HTTPS, users must have at least one active session signed-in through SSO before they can push to or pull from a GitLab repository.
  • Git activity originating from CI/CD jobs do not have the SSO check enforced.
  • Credentials that are not tied to regular users (for example, project and group access tokens, and deploy keys) do not have the SSO check enforced.
  • Users must be signed-in through SSO before they can pull images using the Dependency Proxy.
  • When the Enforce SSO-only authentication for Git and Dependency Proxy activity for this group option is enabled, any API endpoint that involves Git activity is under SSO enforcement. For example, creating or deleting a branch, commit, or tag.

When SSO is enforced, users are not immediately revoked. If the user:

  • Is signed out, they cannot access the group after being removed from the identity provider.
  • Has an active session, they can continue accessing the group for up to 24 hours until the identity provider session times out.

Providers

The SAML standard means that you can use a wide range of identity providers with GitLab. Your identity provider might have relevant documentation. It can be generic SAML documentation or specifically targeted for GitLab.

When configuring your identity provider, consider the notes below for specific providers to help avoid common issues and as a guide for terminology used.

For providers not listed below, you can refer to the instance SAML notes on configuring an identity provider for additional guidance on information your identity provider may require.

GitLab provides the following information for guidance only. If you have any questions on configuring the SAML app, contact your provider's support.

Azure setup notes

Follow the Azure documentation on configuring single sign-on to applications with the notes below for consideration.

For a demo of the Azure SAML setup including SCIM, see SCIM Provisioning on Azure Using SAML SSO for Groups Demo. The video is outdated in regard to objectID mapping and you should follow the SCIM documentation.

GitLab Setting Azure Field
Identifier Identifier (Entity ID)
Assertion consumer service URL Reply URL (Assertion Consumer Service URL)
GitLab single sign-on URL Sign on URL
Identity provider single sign-on URL Login URL
Certificate fingerprint Thumbprint

The recommended attributes are:

  • Unique User Identifier (Name identifier) set to user.objectID.
  • nameid-format set to persistent.
  • Additional claims set to supported attributes.

If using Group Sync, customize the name of the group claim to match the required attribute.

See our example configuration page.

Google Workspace setup notes

Follow the Google Workspace documentation on setting up SSO with Google as your identity provider with the notes below for consideration.

GitLab setting Google Workspace field
Identifier Entity ID
Assertion consumer service URL ACS URL
GitLab single sign-on URL Start URL
Identity provider single sign-on URL SSO URL

NOTE: Google Workspace displays a SHA256 fingerprint. To retrieve the SHA1 fingerprint required by GitLab for configuring SAML, download the certificate and calculate the SHA1 certificate fingerprint using this sample command: openssl x509 -noout -fingerprint -sha1 -inform pem -in "GoogleIDPCertificate-domain.com.pem".

The recommended attributes and claims settings are:

  • Primary email set to email.
  • First name set to first_name.
  • Last name set to last_name.

For NameID, the following settings are recommended:

  • Name ID format is set to EMAIL.
  • NameID set to Basic Information > Primary email.

When selecting Verify SAML Configuration on the GitLab SAML SSO page, disregard the warning recommending setting the NameID format to "persistent".

See our example configuration page.

Okta setup notes

Follow the Okta documentation on setting up a SAML application in Okta with the notes below for consideration.

For a demo of the Okta SAML setup including SCIM, see Demo: Okta Group SAML & SCIM setup.

GitLab Setting Okta Field
Identifier Audience URI
Assertion consumer service URL Single sign-on URL
GitLab single sign-on URL Login page URL (under Application Login Page settings)
Identity provider single sign-on URL Identity Provider Single Sign-On URL

Under the Okta Single sign-on URL field, check the option Use this for Recipient URL and Destination URL.

For NameID, the following settings are recommended; for SCIM, the following settings are required:

  • Application username (NameID) set to Custom user.getInternalProperty("id").
  • Name ID Format set to Persistent.

The Okta GitLab application available in the App Catalog only supports SCIM. Support for SAML is proposed in issue 216173.

OneLogin setup notes

OneLogin supports their own GitLab (SaaS) application.

If you decide to use the OneLogin generic SAML Test Connector (Advanced), we recommend the "Use the OneLogin SAML Test Connector" documentation with the following settings:

GitLab Setting OneLogin Field
Identifier Audience
Assertion consumer service URL Recipient
Assertion consumer service URL ACS (Consumer) URL
Assertion consumer service URL (escaped version) ACS (Consumer) URL Validator
GitLab single sign-on URL Login URL
Identity provider single sign-on URL SAML 2.0 Endpoint

Recommended NameID value: OneLogin ID.

Change the SAML app

To change the SAML app used for sign in:

Migrate to a different SAML provider

You can migrate to a different SAML provider. During the migration process users will not be able to access any of the SAML groups. To mitigate this, you can disable SSO enforcement.

To migrate SAML providers:

  1. Configure the group with the new identity provider SAML app.
  2. Ask users to unlink their account from the group.
  3. Ask users to link their account to the new SAML app.

Change email domains

To migrate users to a new email domain, users must:

  1. Add their new email as the primary email to their accounts and verify it.
  2. Unlink their account from the group.
  3. Link their account to the group.
  4. (Optional) Remove their old email from the account.

User access and management

  • SAML user provisioning introduced in GitLab 13.7.
  • Introduced in GitLab 14.0, GitLab users created by SAML SSO or SCIM provisioning are displayed with an Enterprise badge in the Members view.

After group SSO is configured and enabled, users can access the GitLab.com group through the identity provider's dashboard. If SCIM is configured, see user access on the SCIM page.

When a user tries to sign in with Group SSO, GitLab attempts to find or create a user based on the following:

  • Find an existing user with a matching SAML identity. This would mean the user either had their account created by SCIM or they have previously signed in with the group's SAML IdP.
  • If there is no conflicting user with the same email address, create a new account automatically.
  • If there is a conflicting user with the same email address, redirect the user to the sign-in page to:
    • Create a new account with another email address.
    • Sign-in to their existing account to link the SAML identity.

Linking SAML to your existing GitLab.com account

To link SAML to your existing GitLab.com account:

  1. Sign in to your GitLab.com account. Reset your password if necessary.
  2. Locate and visit the GitLab single sign-on URL for the group you're signing in to. A group owner can find this on the group's Settings > SAML SSO page. If the sign-in URL is configured, users can connect to the GitLab app from the identity provider.
  3. Select Authorize.
  4. Enter your credentials on the identity provider if prompted.
  5. You are then redirected back to GitLab.com and should now have access to the group. In the future, you can use SAML to sign in to GitLab.com.

On subsequent visits, you should be able to go sign in to GitLab.com with SAML or by visiting links directly. If the enforce SSO option is turned on, you are then redirected to sign in through the identity provider.

Signing in to GitLab.com with SAML

  1. Sign in to your identity provider.
  2. From the list of apps, select the "GitLab.com" app. (The name is set by the administrator of the identity provider.)
  3. You are then signed in to GitLab.com and redirected to the group.

Change NameID for one or more users

If the NameID changes for one or more users, they need to reconnect their SAML account.

  1. Ask relevant users to unlink their account from the group.
  2. Ask relevant users to link their account to the new SAML app.

Configure user settings from SAML response

Introduced in GitLab 13.7.

GitLab allows setting certain user attributes based on values from the SAML response. Existing users will have these attributes updated if the user was originally provisioned by the group. Users are provisioned by the group when the account was created via SCIM or by first sign-in with SAML SSO for GitLab.com groups.

Supported user attributes

  • can_create_group - 'true' or 'false' to indicate whether the user can create new groups. Default is true.
  • projects_limit - The total number of personal projects a user can create. A value of 0 means the user cannot create new projects in their personal namespace. Default is 10000.

Example SAML response

You can find SAML responses in the developer tools or console of your browser, in base64-encoded format. Use the base64 decoding tool of your choice to convert the information to XML. An example SAML response is shown here.

   <saml2:AttributeStatement>
      <saml2:Attribute Name="email" NameFormat="urn:oasis:names:tc:SAML:2.0:attrname-format:basic">
         <saml2:AttributeValue xmlns:xs="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:type="xs:string">user.email</saml2:AttributeValue>
      </saml2:Attribute>
      <saml2:Attribute Name="username" NameFormat="urn:oasis:names:tc:SAML:2.0:attrname-format:basic">
        <saml2:AttributeValue xmlns:xs="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:type="xs:string">user.nickName</saml2:AttributeValue>
      </saml2:Attribute>
      <saml2:Attribute Name="first_name" NameFormat="urn:oasis:names:tc:SAML:2.0:attrname-format:unspecified">
         <saml2:AttributeValue xmlns:xs="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:type="xs:string">user.firstName</saml2:AttributeValue>
      </saml2:Attribute>
      <saml2:Attribute Name="last_name" NameFormat="urn:oasis:names:tc:SAML:2.0:attrname-format:unspecified">
         <saml2:AttributeValue xmlns:xs="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:type="xs:string">user.lastName</saml2:AttributeValue>
      </saml2:Attribute>
      <saml2:Attribute Name="can_create_group" NameFormat="urn:oasis:names:tc:SAML:2.0:attrname-format:unspecified">
         <saml2:AttributeValue xmlns:xs="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:type="xs:string">true</saml2:AttributeValue>
      </saml2:Attribute>
      <saml2:Attribute Name="projects_limit" NameFormat="urn:oasis:names:tc:SAML:2.0:attrname-format:unspecified">
         <saml2:AttributeValue xmlns:xs="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:type="xs:string">10</saml2:AttributeValue>
      </saml2:Attribute>
   </saml2:AttributeStatement>

Bypass user email confirmation with verified domains

Introduced in GitLab 15.4.

By default, users provisioned with SAML or SCIM are sent a verification email to verify their identity. Instead, you can configure GitLab with a custom domain and GitLab automatically confirms user accounts. Users still receive an enterprise user welcome email. Confirmation is bypassed for users:

  • That are provisioned with SAML or SCIM.
  • That have an email address that belongs to the verified domain.

Role

Starting from GitLab 13.3, group owners can set a "Default membership role" other than Guest. To do so, configure the SAML SSO for the group. That role becomes the starting access level of all users added to the group.

Existing members with appropriate privileges can promote or demote users, as needed.

If a user is already a member of the group, linking the SAML identity does not change their role.

Users given a "minimal access" role have specific restrictions.

Blocking access

To rescind a user's access to the group when only SAML SSO is configured, either:

  • Remove (in order) the user from:
    1. The user data store on the identity provider or the list of users on the specific app.
    2. The GitLab.com group.
  • Use Group Sync at the top-level of your group to automatically remove the user.

To rescind a user's access to the group when also using SCIM, refer to Remove access.

Unlinking accounts

Users can unlink SAML for a group from their profile page. This can be helpful if:

  • You no longer want a group to be able to sign you in to GitLab.com.
  • Your SAML NameID has changed and so GitLab can no longer find your user.

WARNING: Unlinking an account removes all roles assigned to that user in the group. If a user re-links their account, roles need to be reassigned.

Groups require at least one owner. If your account is the only owner in the group, you are not allowed to unlink the account. In that case, set up another user as a group owner, and then you can unlink the account.

For example, to unlink the MyOrg account:

  1. On the top bar, in the top right corner, select your avatar.
  2. Select Edit profile.
  3. On the left sidebar, select Account.
  4. In the Service sign-in section, select Disconnect next to the connected account.

Group Sync

For information on automatically managing GitLab group membership, see SAML Group Sync.

Passwords for users created via SAML SSO for Groups

The Generated passwords for users created through integrated authentication guide provides an overview of how GitLab generates and sets passwords for users created via SAML SSO for Groups.

Troubleshooting

See our troubleshooting SAML guide.