GitLab Documentation

Two-factor Authentication (2FA)

Two-factor Authentication (2FA) provides an additional level of security to your GitLab account. Once enabled, in addition to supplying your username and password to login, you'll be prompted for a code generated by an application on your phone.

By enabling 2FA, the only way someone other than you can log into your account is to know your username and password and have access to your phone.

Note: When you enable 2FA, don't forget to back up your recovery codes. For your safety, if you lose your codes for GitLab.com, we can't disable or recover them.

In addition to a phone application, GitLab supports U2F (universal 2nd factor) devices as the second factor of authentication. Once enabled, in addition to supplying your username and password to login, you'll be prompted to activate your U2F device (usually by pressing a button on it), and it will perform secure authentication on your behalf.

Note: Support for U2F devices was added in version 8.8

The U2F workflow is only supported by Google Chrome at this point, so we strongly recommend that you set up both methods of two-factor authentication, so you can still access your account from other browsers.

Note: GitLab officially only supports Yubikey U2F devices.

Enabling 2FA

Enable 2FA via mobile application

In GitLab:

  1. Log in to your GitLab account.
  2. Go to your Profile Settings.
  3. Go to Account.
  4. Click Enable Two-factor Authentication.

Two-factor setup

On your phone:

  1. Install a compatible application. We recommend Google Authenticator (proprietary) or FreeOTP (open source).
  2. In the application, add a new entry in one of two ways:
    • Scan the code with your phone's camera to add the entry automatically.
    • Enter the details provided to add the entry manually.

In GitLab:

  1. Enter the six-digit pin number from the entry on your phone into the Pin code field.
  2. Click Submit.

If the pin you entered was correct, you'll see a message indicating that Two-Factor Authentication has been enabled, and you'll be presented with a list of recovery codes.

Enable 2FA via U2F device

In GitLab:

  1. Log in to your GitLab account.
  2. Go to your Profile Settings.
  3. Go to Account.
  4. Click Enable Two-Factor Authentication.
  5. Plug in your U2F device.
  6. Click on Setup New U2F Device.
  7. A light will start blinking on your device. Activate it by pressing its button.

You will see a message indicating that your device was successfully set up. Click on Register U2F Device to complete the process.

Two-Factor U2F Setup

Recovery Codes

Should you ever lose access to your phone, you can use one of the ten provided backup codes to login to your account. We suggest copying or printing them for storage in a safe place. Each code can be used only once to log in to your account.

If you lose the recovery codes or just want to generate new ones, you can do so from the Profile Settings > Account page where you first enabled 2FA.

Note: Recovery codes are not generated for U2F devices.

Logging in with 2FA Enabled

Logging in with 2FA enabled is only slightly different than a normal login. Enter your username and password credentials as you normally would, and you'll be presented with a second prompt, depending on which type of 2FA you've enabled.

Log in via mobile application

Enter the pin from your phone's application or a recovery code to log in.

Two-Factor Authentication on sign in via OTP

Log in via U2F device

  1. Click Login via U2F Device
  2. A light will start blinking on your device. Activate it by pressing its button.

You will see a message indicating that your device responded to the authentication request. Click on Authenticate via U2F Device to complete the process.

Two-Factor Authentication on sign in via U2F device

Disabling 2FA

  1. Log in to your GitLab account.
  2. Go to your Profile Settings.
  3. Go to Account.
  4. Click Disable, under Two-Factor Authentication.

This will clear all your two-factor authentication registrations, including mobile applications and U2F devices.

Personal access tokens

When 2FA is enabled, you can no longer use your normal account password to authenticate with Git over HTTPS on the command line, you must use a personal access token instead.

  1. Log in to your GitLab account.
  2. Go to your Profile Settings.
  3. Go to Access Tokens.
  4. Choose a name and expiry date for the token.
  5. Click on Create Personal Access Token.
  6. Save the personal access token somewhere safe.

When using git over HTTPS on the command line, enter the personal access token into the password field.

Note to GitLab administrators

You need to take special care to that 2FA keeps working after restoring a GitLab backup.