Activating GitLab EE (PREMIUM SELF)

To enable features of GitLab Enterprise Edition (EE), you need to activate your instance. Ensure you are running an enterprise edition. To verify, sign in to GitLab and browse to /help. The GitLab edition and version are listed at the top of the Help page.

If you are running GitLab Community Edition (CE), upgrade your installation to GitLab Enterprise Edition (EE). For more details, see Upgrading between editions. If you have questions or need assistance upgrading from GitLab CE to EE please contact GitLab Support.

As of GitLab Enterprise Edition 9.4.0, a newly-installed instance without an uploaded license only has the Free features active. A trial license activates all Ultimate features, but after the trial expires, some functionality is locked.

Activate GitLab EE with an Activation Code

As of GitLab Enterprise Edition 14.1, you need an activation code to activate your instance. You can obtain an activation code by purchasing a license or by signing up for a free trial. This activation code is a 24-character alphanumeric string you receive in a confirmation email. You can also sign in to the Customers Portal to copy the activation code to your clipboard.

To begin the activation process with your activation code:

  1. Sign in to your GitLab self-managed instance.
  2. From the top menu, select the Admin Area {admin}.
  3. From the left sidebar, select Subscription.
  4. Paste the activation code onto the input field.
  5. Read and accept the terms of service.
  6. Select Activate.

Activate GitLab EE with a License File

If you receive a license file from GitLab (for example a new trial), you can upload it by signing into your GitLab instance as an administrator or adding it during installation. The license is a base64-encoded ASCII text file with a .gitlab-license extension.

Uploading your license

The first time you visit your GitLab EE installation signed in as an administrator, you should see a note urging you to upload a license with a link that takes you to the Subscription area.

Otherwise, to manually go to the Subscription area:

  1. Sign in to your GitLab self-managed instance.

  2. From the top menu, select the Admin Area {admin}.

  3. From the left sidebar, select Subscription, and select Upload a license file.

    • If you've received a .gitlab-license file:

      1. Download the license file to your local machine.
      2. Select Upload .gitlab-license file.
      3. Select Choose file and select the license file. In this example the license file is named GitLab.gitlab-license.
      4. Select the Terms of Service checkbox.
      5. Select Upload License.

      Upload license

    • If you've received your license as plain text:

      1. Select Enter license key.
      2. Copy the license and paste it into the License key field.
      3. Select the Terms of Service checkbox.
      4. Select Upload License.

Add your license at install time

A license can be automatically imported at install time by placing a file named Gitlab.gitlab-license in /etc/gitlab/ for Omnibus GitLab, or config/ for source installations.

You can also specify a custom location and filename for the license:

  • Source installations should set the GITLAB_LICENSE_FILE environment variable with the path to a valid GitLab Enterprise Edition license.

    export GITLAB_LICENSE_FILE="/path/to/license/file"
  • Omnibus GitLab installations should add this entry to gitlab.rb:

    gitlab_rails['initial_license_file'] = "/path/to/license/file"

WARNING: These methods only add a license at the time of installation. Use the {admin} Admin Area in the web user interface to renew or upgrade licenses.

After the license is uploaded, all GitLab Enterprise Edition functionality is active until the end of the license period. When that period ends, the instance will fall back to Free-only functionality.

You can review the license details at any time by going to Admin Area > Subscription.

Notification before the license expires

One month before the license expires, a message informing about the expiration date is displayed to GitLab administrators. Make sure that you update your license, otherwise you miss all the paid features if your license expires.

What happens when your license expires

When your license expires, GitLab locks down features, like Git pushes and issue creation. Then, your instance becomes read-only and an expiration message is displayed to all administrators.

For GitLab self-managed instances, you have a 14-day grace period before this occurs.

  • To resume functionality, upload a new license.
  • To fall back to Free features, delete all expired licenses.

Remove a license file

To remove a license file from a self-managed instance:

  1. From the top menu, select the Admin Area {admin}.
  2. From the left sidebar, select Subscription.
  3. Select Remove license.

These steps may need to be repeated to completely remove all licenses, including those applied in the past.

License history

You can upload and view more than one license, but only the latest license in the current date range is used as the active license.

When you upload a future-dated license, it doesn't take effect until its applicable date. You can view all of your active subscriptions in the Subscription history table.

NOTE: In GitLab 13.6 and earlier, a notification banner about an expiring license may continue to be displayed even after a new license has been uploaded. This happens when the newly uploaded license's start date is in the future and the expiring one is still active. The banner disappears after the new license becomes active.


There is no Subscription tab in the Admin Area

If you originally installed Community Edition rather than Enterprise Edition you must upgrade to Enterprise Edition before uploading your license. users can't upload and use a self-managed license. If you want to use paid features on, you can purchase a separate subscription.

Users exceed license limit upon renewal

If you've added new users to your GitLab instance prior to renewal, you may need to purchase additional seats to cover those users. If this is the case, and a license without enough users is uploaded, GitLab displays a message prompting you to purchase additional users. More information on how to determine the required number of users and how to add additional seats can be found in the licensing FAQ.

In GitLab 14.2 and later, for instances that use a license file, you can exceed the number of purchased users and still activate your license.

  • If the users over license are less than or equal to 10% of the users in the subscription, the license is applied and the overage is paid in the next true-up.
  • If the users over license are more than 10% of the users in the subscription, you cannot apply the license without purchasing more users.

For example, if you purchased a license for 100 users, you can have 110 users when you activate your license. However, if you have 111, you must purchase more users before you can activate.

There is a connectivity issue

In GitLab 14.1 and later, to activate your subscription, your GitLab instance must be connected to the internet.

If you have an offline or airgapped environment, you can upload a license file instead.

If you have questions or need assistance activating your instance, please contact GitLab Support.