- Optional Approvals
- Approval Rules
- Adding or removing an approval
- Merge request approvals project settings
- Security approvals in merge requests
Code review is an essential practice of every successful project, and giving your approval once a merge request is in good shape is an important part of the review process, as it clearly communicates the ability to merge the change.
Introduced in GitLab 13.2.
Any user with Developer or greater permissions can approve a merge request in GitLab Core and higher tiers. This provides a consistent mechanism for reviewers to approve merge requests, and makes it easy for maintainers to know when a change is ready to merge. Approvals in Core are optional and do not prevent a merge request from being merged when there is no approval.
Required approvals enable enforced code review by requiring specified people to approve a merge request before it can be merged.
Required approvals enable multiple use cases:
- Enforcing review of all code that gets merged into a repository.
- Specifying reviewers for a given proposed code change, as well as a minimum number of reviewers, through Approval rules.
- Specifying categories of reviewers, such as backend, frontend, quality assurance, database, and so on, for all proposed code changes.
- Designating Code Owners as eligible approvers, determined by the files changed in a merge request.
- Requiring approval from a security team before merging code that could introduce a vulnerability.
Approval rules define how many approvals a merge request must receive before it can be merged, and optionally which users should do the approving. Approvals can be defined:
If no approval rules are defined, any user can approve a merge request, though the default minimum number of required approvers can still be set in the project settings for merge request approvals.
You can opt to define one single rule to approve a merge request among the available rules or choose more than one. Single approval rules are available in GitLab Starter and higher tiers, while multiple approval rules are available in GitLab Premium and above.
The following users can approve merge requests:
- Users who have been added as approvers at the project or merge request levels with developer or higher permissions.
- Code owners of the files changed by the merge request that have developer or higher permissions.
An individual user can be added as an approver for a project if they are a member of:
- The project.
- The project’s immediate parent group.
- A group that has access to the project via a share.
A group of users can also be added as approvers. In the future, group approvers may be restricted to only groups with share access to the project.
If a user is added as an individual approver and is also part of a group approver, then that user is just counted once. The merge request author, as well as users who have committed to the merge request, do not count as eligible approvers, if Prevent author approval (enabled by default) and Prevent committers approval (disabled by default) are enabled on the project settings.
When an eligible approver comments on a merge request, it appears in the Commented by column of the Approvals widget, indicating who has engaged in the merge request review. Authors and reviewers can also easily identify who they should reach out to if they have any questions or inputs about the content of the merge request.
If the number of required approvals is greater than the number of assigned approvers, approvals from other users will count towards meeting the requirement. These would be users with developer permissions or higher in the project who were not explicitly listed in the approval rules.
To enable this merge request approval rule:
- Navigate to your project’s Settings > General and expand Merge request approvals.
- Locate Any eligible user and choose the number of approvals required.
Once set, merge requests can only be merged once approved by the number of approvals you’ve set. GitLab will accept approvals from users with Developer or higher permissions, as well as by Code Owners, indistinguishably.
Alternatively, you can require Code Owner’s approvals for Protected Branches.
Managers or operators with Reporter permissions to a project sometimes need to be required approvers of a merge request, before a merge to a protected branch begins. These approvers aren’t allowed to push or merge code to any branches.
To enable this access:
- Create a new group, and then add the user to the group, ensuring you select the Reporter role for the user.
- Share the project with your group, based on the Reporter role.
- Navigate to your project’s Settings > General, and in the Merge request approvals section, click Expand.
- Add the group to the permission list for the protected branch.
To add or edit the default merge request approval rule:
Navigate to your project’s Settings > General and expand Merge request approvals.
- Click Add approval rule, or Edit.
- Add or change the Rule name.
- Set the number of required approvals in No. approvals required. The minimum value is
- (Optional) Search for users or groups that will be eligible to approve merge requests and click the Add button to add them as approvers. Before typing in the search field, approvers will be suggested based on the previous authors of the files being changed by the merge request.
- (Optional) Click the Remove button next to a group or user to delete it from the rule.
- Click Add approval rule or Update approval rule.
Any merge requests that were created before changing the rules will not be changed. They will keep the original approval rules, unless manually overridden.
Introduced in GitLab Enterprise Edition 9.4.
By default, the merge request approval rule listed in each merge request (MR) can be edited by the MR author or a user with sufficient permissions. This ability can be disabled in the merge request approvals settings.
One possible scenario would be to add more approvers than were defined in the default settings.
When creating or editing a merge request, find the Approval rules section, then follow the same steps as Adding / editing a default approval rule.
MR approvals can be configured to be optional. This can be useful if you’re working on a team where approvals are appreciated, but not required.
To configure an approval to be optional, set the number of required approvals in No. approvals required to
You can also set an optional approval rule through the Merge requests approvals API, by setting the
approvals_required attribute to
In GitLab Premium, it is possible to have multiple approval rules per merge request, as well as multiple default approval rules per project.
Adding or editing multiple default rules is identical to adding or editing a single default approval rule, except the Add approval rule button will be available to add more rules, even after a rule is already defined.
Similarly, editing or overriding multiple approval rules per merge request is identical to editing or overriding approval rules per merge request, except the Add approval rule button will be available to add more rules, even after a rule is already defined.
When an eligible approver approves a merge request, it will reduce the number of approvals left for all rules that the approver belongs to.
Approval rules are often only relevant to specific branches, like
When configuring Default Approval Rules
these can be scoped to all the protected branches at once by navigating to your project’s
Settings, expanding Merge request approvals, and selecting Any branch from
the Target branch dropdown.
Alternatively, you can select a very specific protected branch from the Target branch dropdown:
To enable this configuration, see Code Owner’s approvals for protected branches.
When an eligible approver visits an open merge request, one of the following is possible:
If the required number of approvals has not been yet met, they can approve it by clicking the displayed Approve button.
If the required number of approvals has already been met, they can still approve it by clicking the displayed Approve additionally button.
They have already approved this merge request: They can remove their approval.
Once the approval rules have been met, the merge request can be merged if there is nothing else blocking it. Note that the merge request could still be blocked by other conditions, such as merge conflicts, pending discussions, or a failed CI/CD pipeline.
The project settings for Merge request approvals are found by going to Settings > General and expanding Merge request approvals.
Regardless of the approval rules you choose for your project, users can edit them in every merge request, overriding the rules you set as default. To prevent that from happening:
- Uncheck the Can override approvers and approvals required per merge request checkbox.
- Click Save changes.
You can force all approvals on a merge request to be removed when new commits are pushed to the source branch of the merge request. If disabled, approvals will persist even if there are changes added to the merge request. To enable this feature:
- Check the Remove all approvals in a merge request when new commits are pushed to its source branch checkbox.
- Click Save changes.
By default, projects are configured to prevent merge requests from being approved by their own authors. To change this setting:
- Go to your project’s Settings > General, expand Merge request approvals.
- Uncheck the Prevent approval of merge requests by merge request author checkbox.
- Click Save changes.
Note that users can edit the approval rules in every merge request and override pre-defined settings unless it’s set not to allow overrides.
You can prevent users that have committed to a merge request from approving it. To enable this feature:
- Check the Prevent approval of merge requests by their committers checkbox.
- Click Save changes.
You can force the approver to enter a password in order to authenticate before adding the approval. This enables an Electronic Signature for approvals such as the one defined by CFR Part 11). To enable this feature:
- Check the Require user password to approve checkbox.
- Click Save changes.
Merge Request Approvals can be configured to require approval from a member of your security team when a vulnerability would be introduced by a merge request.
For more information, see Security approvals in merge requests.