Merge requests for confidential issues

Introduced in GitLab 12.1.

Merge requests in a public repository are also public, even when the merge request is created for a confidential issue. To avoid leaking confidential information when working on a confidential issue, create your merge request from a private fork.

Roles are inherited from parent groups. If you create your private fork in the same group or subgroup as the original (public) repository, developers receive the same permissions in your fork. This inheritance ensures:

  • Developer users have the needed permissions to view confidential issues and resolve them.
  • You do not need grant individual users access to your fork.

The security practices for confidential merge requests at GitLab are available to read.

Create a confidential merge request

To create a confidential merge request, you must create a private fork. This fork may expose confidential information, if you create your fork in another namespace that may have other members.

Branches are public by default. To protect the confidentiality of your work, you must create your changes in a private fork.


  • You have the Owner or Maintainer role in the public repository, as you need one of these roles to create a subgroup.
  • You have forked the public repository.
  • Your fork has a Visibility level of Private.

To create a confidential merge request:

  1. Go to the confidential issue’s page. Scroll below the issue description and select Create confidential merge request.
  2. Select the item that meets your needs:
    • To create both a branch and a merge request, select Create confidential merge request and branch. Your merge request will target the default branch of your fork, not the default branch of the public upstream project.
    • To create only a branch, select Create branch.
  3. Select a Project to use. These projects have merge requests enabled, and you have the Developer role (or greater) in them.
  4. Provide a Branch name, and select a Source (branch or tag). GitLab checks whether these branches are available in your private fork, because both branches must be available in your selected fork.
  5. Select Create.

If you created a branch in your private fork, users with the Developer role in the public repository can push code to that branch in your private fork to fix the confidential issue.

As your merge request targets your private fork, not the public upstream project, your branch, merge request, and commits do not enter the public repository. This prevents prematurely revealing confidential information.

To make a confidential commit public, open a merge request from the private fork to the public upstream project.