Migrating GitLab groups

You can migrate GitLab groups:

  • From self-managed GitLab to GitLab.com.
  • From GitLab.com to self-managed GitLab.
  • From one self-managed GitLab instance to another.
  • Between groups in the same GitLab instance.

You can migrate groups in two ways:

  • By direct transfer (recommended).
  • By uploading an export file.

If you migrate from GitLab.com to self-managed GitLab, an administrator can create users on the self-managed GitLab instance.

Version history

On self-managed GitLab, by default migrating group items is not available. To show the feature, ask an administrator to enable it in application settings.

Migrating groups by direct transfer copies the groups from one place to another. You can:

  • Copy many groups at once.
  • In the GitLab UI, copy top-level groups to:
    • Another top-level group.
    • The subgroup of any existing top-level group.
    • Another GitLab instance, including GitLab.com.
  • In the API, copy top-level groups and subgroups to these locations.
  • Copy groups with projects (in beta and not ready for production use) or without projects. Copying projects with groups is available:
    • On GitLab.com by default.

Not all group and project resources are copied. See list of copied resources below:

caution
Importing groups with projects is in beta. This feature is not ready for production use.

We invite you to leave your feedback about migrating by direct transfer in the feedback issue.

If you want to move groups instead of copying groups, you can transfer groups if the groups are in the same GitLab instance. Transferring groups is a faster and more complete option.

Known issues

See epic 6629 for a list of known issues for migrating by direct transfer.

Limits

LimitDescription
6Maximum number of migrations permitted by a destination GitLab instance per minute per user. Introduced in GitLab 15.9.
5 GBMaximum relation size that can be downloaded from the source instance.
10 GBMaximum size of a decompressed archive.
210 secondsMaximum number of seconds to wait for decompressing an archive file.
50 MBMaximum length an NDJSON row can have.
5 minutesMaximum number of seconds until an empty export status on source instance is raised.
8 hoursTime until migration times out.
90 minutesTime the destination is waiting for export to complete.

Visibility rules

After migration:

  • Private groups and projects stay private.
  • Public groups and projects:
    • Stay public when copied into a public group.
    • Become private when copied into a private group.

If used a private network on your source instance to hide content from the general public, make sure to have a similar setup on the destination instance, or to import into a private group.

Prerequisites

To migrate groups by direct transfer:

  • The network connection between instances or GitLab.com must support HTTPS.
  • Any firewalls must not block the connection between the source and destination GitLab instances.
  • Both GitLab instances must have group migration by direct transfer enabled in application settings by an instance administrator.
  • The source GitLab instance must be running GitLab 14.0 or later.
  • You must have a personal access token for the source GitLab instance:
    • For GitLab 15.1 and later source instances, the personal access token must have the api scope.
    • For GitLab 15.0 and earlier source instances, the personal access token must have both the api and read_repository scopes.
  • You must have the Owner role on the source group to migrate from.
  • You must have at least the Maintainer role on the destination group to migrate to. Using the Developer role for this purpose was deprecated in GitLab 15.8 and will be removed in GitLab 16.0.

Prepare user accounts

To ensure GitLab maps users and their contributions correctly:

  1. Create the required users on the destination GitLab instance. You can create users with the API only on self-managed instances because it requires administrator access. When migrating to GitLab.com or a self-managed GitLab instance you can:
  2. Ensure that users have a public email on the source GitLab instance that matches any confirmed email address on the destination GitLab instance. Most users receive an email asking them to confirm their email address.
  3. If users already exist on the destination instance and you use SAML SSO for GitLab.com groups, all users must link their SAML identity to their GitLab.com account.

Connect the source GitLab instance

Create the group you want to import to and connect the source GitLab instance:

  1. Create either:
    • A new group. On the top bar, select , then New group, and select Import group.
    • A new subgroup. On existing group’s page, either:
      • Select New subgroup.
      • On the top bar, Select and then New subgroup. Then on the left sidebar, select the import an existing group link.
  2. Enter the URL of a GitLab instance running GitLab 14.0 or later.
  3. Enter the personal access token for your source GitLab instance.
  4. Select Connect instance.

Select the groups and projects to import

Introduced in GitLab 15.8, option to import groups with or without projects.

After you have authorized access to the source GitLab instance, you are redirected to the GitLab group importer page. Here you can see a list of the top-level groups on the connected source instance where you have the Owner role.

  1. By default, the proposed group namespaces match the names as they exist in source instance, but based on your permissions, you can choose to edit these names before you proceed to import any of them.
  2. Next to the groups you want to import, select either:
    • Import with projects.
    • Import without projects.
  3. The Status column shows the import status of each group. If you leave the page open, it updates in real-time.
  4. After a group has been imported, select its GitLab path to open its GitLab URL.
caution
Importing groups with projects is in beta. This feature is not ready for production use.

Group import history

You can view all groups migrated by you by direct transfer listed on the group import history page. This list includes:

  • Paths of source groups.
  • Paths of destination groups.
  • Start date of each import.
  • Status of each import.
  • Error details if any errors occurred.

To view group import history:

  1. Sign in to GitLab.
  2. On the top bar, select Create new… ().
  3. Select New group.
  4. Select Import group.
  5. In the upper-right corner, select History.
  6. If there are any errors for a particular import, you can see them by selecting Details.

Migrated group items

The group items that are migrated depend on the version of GitLab you use on the destination. To determine if a specific group item is migrated:

  1. Check the groups/stage.rb file for all editions and the groups/stage.rb file for Enterprise Edition for your version on the destination. For example, for version 15.9:
  2. Check the group/import_export.yml file for groups for your version on the destination. For example, for version 15.9: https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab/-/blob/15-9-stable-ee/lib/gitlab/import_export/group/import_export.yml.

Any other group items are not migrated.

Group items that are migrated to the destination GitLab instance include:

Group itemIntroduced in
BadgesGitLab 13.11
BoardsGitLab 13.7
Board listsGitLab 13.7
Epics 1 GitLab 13.7
Group labelsGitLab 13.9
IterationsGitLab 13.10
Iteration cadencesGitLab 15.4
Members 2 GitLab 13.9
Group milestonesGitLab 13.10
Namespace settingsGitLab 14.10
Release milestonesGitLab 15.0
SubgroupsGitLab 13.7
UploadsGitLab 13.7
  1. Epic resource state events introduced in GitLab 15.4, label associations introduced in GitLab 13.12, state and state ID introduced in GitLab 13.7, and system note metadata introduced in GitLab 14.0.
  2. Group members are associated with the imported group if the user:
    • Already exists in the destination GitLab instance.
    • Has a public email in the source GitLab instance that matches a confirmed email in the destination GitLab instance.

Migrated project items (Beta)

Version history

If you choose to migrate projects when you select groups to migrate, project items are migrated with the projects.

The project items that are migrated depends on the version of GitLab you use on the destination. To determine if a specific project item is migrated:

  1. Check the projects/stage.rb file for all editions and the projects/stage.rb file for Enterprise Edition for your version on the destination. For example, for version 15.9:
  2. Check the project/import_export.yml file for projects for your version on the destination. For example, for version 15.9: https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab/-/blob/15-9-stable-ee/lib/gitlab/import_export/project/import_export.yml.

Any other project items are not migrated.

caution
Migrating projects when migrating groups by direct transfer is in beta and is not ready for production use.

Project items that are migrated to the destination GitLab instance include:

Project itemIntroduced in
ProjectsGitLab 14.4
Auto DevOpsGitLab 14.6
BadgesGitLab 14.6
Branches (including protected branches)GitLab 14.7
CI PipelinesGitLab 14.6
DesignsGitLab 15.1
IssuesGitLab 14.4
Issue boardsGitLab 14.4
LabelsGitLab 14.4
LFS ObjectsGitLab 14.8
MembersGitLab 14.8
Merge requestsGitLab 14.5
Push rulesGitLab 14.6
MilestonesGitLab 14.5
External pull requestsGitLab 14.5
Pipeline historyGitLab 14.6
Pipeline schedulesGitLab 14.8
Project featuresGitLab 14.6
ReleasesGitLab 15.1
Release evidencesGitLab 15.1
RepositoriesGitLab 14.4
SnippetsGitLab 14.6
SettingsGitLab 14.6
UploadsGitLab 14.5
WikisGitLab 14.6

Issue-related project items that are migrated to the destination GitLab instance include:

Issue-related project itemIntroduced in
Issue iterationsGitLab 15.4
Issue resource state eventsGitLab 15.4
Issue resource milestone eventsGitLab 15.4
Issue resource iteration eventsGitLab 15.4
Merge request URL referencesGitLab 15.6
Time trackingGitLab 14.4

Merge request-related project items that are migrated to the destination GitLab instance include:

Merge request-related project itemIntroduced in
Multiple merge request assigneesGitLab 15.3
Merge request reviewersGitLab 15.3
Merge request approversGitLab 15.3
Merge request resource state eventsGitLab 15.4
Merge request resource milestone eventsGitLab 15.4
Issue URL referencesGitLab 15.6
Time trackingGitLab 14.5

Setting-related project items that are migrated to the destination GitLab instance include:

Setting-related project itemIntroduced in
AvatarGitLab 14.6
Container expiration policyGitLab 14.6
Project propertiesGitLab 14.6
Service DeskGitLab 14.6

Excluded items

Project items excluded from migration because they contain sensitive information:

  • Pipeline triggers.

Troubleshooting

In a rails console session, you can find the failure or error messages for the group import attempt using:

# Get relevant import records
import = BulkImports::Entity.where(namespace_id: Group.id).map(&:bulk_import).last

# Alternative lookup by user
import = BulkImport.where(user_id: User.find(...)).last

# Get list of import entities. Each entity represents either a group or a project
entities = import.entities

# Get a list of entity failures
entities.map(&:failures).flatten

# Alternative failure lookup by status
entities.where(status: [-1]).pluck(:destination_name, :destination_namespace, :status)

You can also see all migrated entities with any failures related to them using an API endpoint.

Stale imports

Introduced in GitLab 14.10.

When troubleshooting group migration, an import may not complete because the import workers took longer than 8 hours to execute. In this case, the status of either a BulkImport or BulkImport::Entity is 3 (timeout):

# Get relevant import records
import = BulkImports::Entity.where(namespace_id: Group.id).map(&:bulk_import)

import.status #=> 3 means that the import timed out.

Error: 404 Group Not Found

If you attempt to import a group that has a path comprised of only numbers (for example, 5000), GitLab attempts to find the group by ID instead of the path. This causes a 404 Group Not Found error in GitLab 15.4 and earlier.

To solve this, you must change the source group path to include a non-numerical character using either:

  • The GitLab UI:

    1. On the top bar, select Main menu > Groups and find your group.
    2. On the left sidebar, select Settings > General.
    3. Expand Advanced.
    4. Under Change group URL, change the group URL to include non-numeric characters.
  • The Groups API.

Other 404 errors

You can receive other 404 errors when importing a group, for example:

"exception_message": "Unsuccessful response 404 from [FILTERED] Bo...",
"exception_class": "BulkImports::NetworkError",

This error indicates a problem transferring from the source instance. To solve this, check that you have met the prerequisites on the source instance.

Migrate groups by uploading an export file (deprecated)

Version history
  • Introduced in GitLab 13.0 as an experimental feature. May change in future releases.
  • Deprecated in GitLab 14.6.
caution
This feature was deprecated in GitLab 14.6 and replaced by migrating groups by direct transfer. However, this feature is still recommended for migrating groups between offline systems. To follow progress on an alternative solution for offline environments, see the relevant epic.

Prerequisites:

  • Owner role on the group to migrate.

Using file exports, you can:

  • Export any group to a file and upload that file to another GitLab instance or to another location on the same instance.
  • Use either the GitLab UI or the API.
  • Migrate groups one by one, then export and import each project for the groups one by one.

GitLab maps user contributions correctly when an admin access token is used to perform the import. GitLab does not map user contributions correctly when you are importing from a self-managed instance to GitLab.com. Correct mapping of user contributions when importing from a self-managed instance to GitLab.com can be preserved with paid involvement of Professional Services team.

Note the following:

  • Exports are stored in a temporary directory and are deleted every 24 hours by a specific worker.
  • To preserve group-level relationships from imported projects, export and import groups first so that projects can be imported into the desired group structure.
  • Imported groups are given a private visibility level, unless imported into a parent group.
  • If imported into a parent group, a subgroup inherits the same level of visibility unless otherwise restricted.
  • You can export groups from the Community Edition to the Enterprise Edition and vice versa. The Enterprise Edition retains some group data that isn’t part of the Community Edition. If you’re exporting a group from the Enterprise Edition to the Community Edition, you may lose this data. For more information, see downgrading from EE to CE.

Compatibility

Support for JSON-formatted project file exports removed in GitLab 15.8.

Group file exports are in NDJSON format.

You can import group file exports that were exported from a version of GitLab up to two minor versions behind, which is similar to our process for security releases.

For example:

Destination versionCompatible source versions
13.013.0, 12.10, 12.9
13.113.1, 13.0, 12.10

Exported contents

The import_export.yml file for groups lists items exported and imported when migrating groups using file exports. View this file in the branch for your version of GitLab to check which items can be imported to the destination GitLab instance. For example, import_export.yml on the 14-10-stable-ee branch.

Group items that are exported include:

  • Milestones
  • Labels
  • Boards and Board Lists
  • Badges
  • Subgroups (including all the aforementioned data)
  • Epics
    • Epic resource state events (Introduced in GitLab 15.4)
  • Events
  • Wikis (Introduced in GitLab 13.9)
  • Iterations cadences (Introduced in 15.4)

Items that are not exported include:

  • Projects
  • Runner tokens
  • SAML discovery tokens

Preparation

  • To preserve the member list and their respective permissions on imported groups, review the users in these groups. Make sure these users exist before importing the desired groups.
  • Users must set a public email in the source GitLab instance that matches their confirmed primary email in the destination GitLab instance. Most users receive an email asking them to confirm their email address.

Enable export for a group

Prerequisite:

  • You must have the Owner role for the group.

To enable import and export for a group:

  1. On the top bar, select Main menu > Admin.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Settings > General.
  3. Expand Visibility and access controls.
  4. In the Import sources section, select the checkboxes for the sources you want.

Export a group

Prerequisites:

  • You must have the Owner role for the group.

To export the contents of a group:

  1. On the top bar, select Main menu > Groups and find your group.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Settings > General.
  3. In the Advanced section, select Export Group.
  4. After the export is generated, you should receive an email with a link to the exported contents in a compressed tar archive, with contents in NDJSON format.
  5. Alternatively, you can download the export from the UI:

    1. Return to your group’s Settings > General page.
    2. In the Advanced section, select Download export. You can also generate a new file by selecting Regenerate export.

You can also export a group using the API.

Import the group

  1. Create a new group:
    • On the top bar, select Create new… () and then New group.
    • On an existing group’s page, select New subgroup.
  2. Select Import group.
  3. Enter your group name.
  4. Accept or modify the associated group URL.
  5. Select Choose file.
  6. Select the file that you exported in the Export a group section.
  7. To begin importing, select Import group.

Your newly imported group page appears after the operation completes.

note
The maximum import file size can be set by the administrator, default is 0 (unlimited). As an administrator, you can modify the maximum import file size. To do so, use the max_import_size option in the Application settings API or the Admin Area. Default modified from 50 MB to 0 in GitLab 13.8.

Rate limits

To help avoid abuse, by default, users are rate limited to:

Request TypeLimit
Export6 groups per minute
Download export1 download per group per minute
Import6 groups per minute

Automate group and project import

For information on automating user, group, and project import API calls, see Automate group and project import.