Activate GitLab EE with a license file or key

If you receive a license file from GitLab (for example, for a trial), you can upload it to your instance or add it during installation. The license file is a base64-encoded ASCII text file with a .gitlab-license extension.

The first time you sign in to your GitLab instance, a note with a link to the Add license page should be displayed.

Otherwise, to add your license:

  1. Sign in to GitLab as an administrator.
  2. On the top bar, select Menu > Admin.
  3. On the left sidebar, select Settings > General.
  4. In the License file area, select Add a license.
  5. Add a license by either uploading the file or pasting the key.
  6. Select the Terms of Service checkbox.
  7. Select Add license.

Add your license file during installation

You can import a license file when you install GitLab.

  • For installations from source

    • Place the Gitlab.gitlab-license file in the config/ directory.

    • To specify a custom location and filename for the license, set the GITLAB_LICENSE_FILE environment variable with the path to the file:

      export GITLAB_LICENSE_FILE="/path/to/license/file"
  • For Omnibus package

    • Place the Gitlab.gitlab-license file in the /etc/gitlab/ directory.

    • To specify a custom location and filename for the license, 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. To renew or upgrade a license, add the license in the Admin Area in the web user interface.

What happens when your license expires

Fifteen days before the license expires, a notification banner with the upcoming expiration date displays to GitLab administrators.

When your license expires, GitLab locks features, like Git pushes and issue creation. Your instance becomes read-only and an expiration message displays to all administrators. You have a 14-day grace period before this occurs.

To resume functionality, activate a new subscription.

To go back to Free features, delete all expired licenses.

Remove a license

To remove a license from a self-managed instance:

  1. On the top bar, select Menu > Admin.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Subscription.
  3. Select Remove license.

Repeat these steps to remove all licenses, including those applied in the past.

View license details and history

To view your license details:

  1. On the top bar, select Menu > Admin.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Subscription.

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

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

You can also export your license usage information to a CSV file.

NOTE: In GitLab 13.6 and earlier, a banner about an expiring license may continue to display when you add a new license. This happens when the start date of the new license is in the future and the expiring one is still active. The banner disappears after the new license becomes active.


No Subscription area in the Admin Area

You cannot add your license because there is no Subscription area. This issue might occur if:

Users exceed license limit upon renewal

GitLab displays a message prompting you to purchase additional users. This issue occurs if you add a license that does not have enough users to cover the number of users in your instance.

To fix this issue, purchase additional seats to cover those users. For more information, read the licensing FAQ.

In GitLab 14.2 and later, for instances that use a license file, the following rules apply:

  • If the users over license are less than or equal to 10% of the users in the license file, the license is applied and you pay the overage in the next renewal.
  • If the users over license are more than 10% of the users in the license file, you cannot apply the license without purchasing more users.

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