Troubleshooting the Terraform integration with GitLab

When you are using the integration with Terraform and GitLab, you might experience issues you need to troubleshoot.

gitlab_group_share_group resources not detected when subgroup state is refreshed

The GitLab Terraform provider can fail to detect existing gitlab_group_share_group resources due to the issue “User with permissions cannot retrieve share_with_groups from the API”. This results in an error when running terraform apply because Terraform attempts to recreate an existing resource.

For example, consider the following group/subgroup configuration:

├── subgroup-A
└── subgroup-B


  • User user-1 creates parent-group, subgroup-A, and subgroup-B.
  • subgroup-A is shared with subgroup-B.
  • User terraform-user is member of parent-group with inherited owner access to both subgroups.

When the Terraform state is refreshed, the API query GET /groups/:subgroup-A_id issued by the provider does not return the details of subgroup-B in the shared_with_groups array. This leads to the error.

To workaround this issue, make sure to apply one of the following conditions:

  1. The terraform-user creates all subgroup resources.
  2. Grant Maintainer or Owner role to the terraform-user user on subgroup-B.
  3. The terraform-user inherited access to subgroup-B and subgroup-B contains at least one project.

Invalid CI/CD syntax error when using the base template

You might encounter a CI/CD syntax error when using the Terraform templates:

  • On GitLab 14.2 and later, using the latest template.
  • On GitLab 15.0 and later, using any version of the template.

For example:

  # On 14.2 and later, when using either of the following:
  - template: Terraform/Base.latest.gitlab-ci.yml
  - template: Terraform.latest.gitlab-ci.yml
  # On 15.0 and later, the following templates have also been updated:
  - template: Terraform/Base.gitlab-ci.yml
  - template: Terraform.gitlab-ci.yml

  extends: .apply

There are three different causes for the error:

  • In the case of .init, the error occurs because the init stage and jobs were removed from the templates, since they are no longer required. To resolve the syntax error, you can safely remove any jobs extending .init.
  • For all other jobs, the reason for the failure is that the base jobs have been renamed: A .terraform: prefix has been added to every job name. For example, .apply became .terraform:apply. To fix this error, you can update the base job names. For example:

    -   extends: .apply
    +   extends: .terraform:apply
  • In GitLab 15.0, templates use rules syntax instead of only/except. Ensure the syntax in your .gitlab-ci.yml file does not include both.

Use an older version of the template

Breaking changes can occur during major releases. If you encounter a breaking change or want to use an older version of a template, you can update your .gitlab-ci.yml to refer to an older one. For example:


View the template-archive to see which templates are available.

Troubleshooting Terraform state

Unable to lock Terraform state files in CI jobs for terraform apply using a plan created in a previous job

When passing -backend-config= to terraform init, Terraform persists these values inside the plan cache file. This includes the password value.

As a result, to create a plan and later use the same plan in another CI job, you might get the error Error: Error acquiring the state lock errors when using -backend-config=password=$CI_JOB_TOKEN. This happens because the value of $CI_JOB_TOKEN is only valid for the duration of the current job.

As a workaround, use http backend configuration variables in your CI job, which is what happens behind the scenes when following the Get started using GitLab CI instructions.

Error: “address”: required field is not set

By default, we set TF_ADDRESS to ${CI_API_V4_URL}/projects/${CI_PROJECT_ID}/terraform/state/${TF_STATE_NAME}. If you don’t set TF_STATE_NAME or TF_ADDRESS in your job, the job fails with the error message Error: "address": required field is not set.

To resolve this, ensure that either TF_ADDRESS or TF_STATE_NAME is accessible in the job that returned the error:

  1. Configure the CI/CD environment scope for the job.
  2. Set the job’s environment, matching the environment scope from the previous step.

Error refreshing state: HTTP remote state endpoint requires auth

To resolve this, ensure that:

  • The access token you use has api scope.
  • If you have set the TF_HTTP_PASSWORD CI/CD variable, make sure that you either:
    • Set the same value as TF_PASSWORD
    • Remove TF_HTTP_PASSWORD variable if your CI/CD job does not explicitly use it.

Enable Developer role access to destructive commands

To permit a user with the Developer role to run destructive commands, you need a workaround:

  1. Create a project access token with api scope.
  2. Add TF_USERNAME and TF_PASSWORD to your CI/CD variables:
    1. Set the value of TF_USERNAME to the username of your project access token.
    2. Set the value of TF_PASSWORD to the password of your project access token.
    3. Optional. Protect the variables to make them only available in pipelines that run on protected branches or protected tags.

State not found if the state name contains a period

GitLab 15.6 and earlier returned 404 errors if the state name contained a period and Terraform attempted a state lock.

You could work around this limitation by adding -lock=false to your Terraform commands. The GitLab backend accepted the request, but internally stripped the period and any characters that followed from the state name. For example, a state named would be stored as foo. However, this workaround wasn’t recommended, and could even cause state name collisions.

In GitLab 15.7 and later, state names with periods are supported. If you use the -lock=false workaround and upgrade to GitLab 15.7 or later, your jobs might fail. The failure is caused by the GitLab backend storing a new state with the full state name, which diverges from the existing state name.

To fix the failing jobs, rename your state names to exclude the period and any characters that follow it. For example, if you use the Terraform template:

  - template: Terraform.gitlab-ci.yml


If your TF_HTTP_ADDRESS, TF_HTTP_LOCK_ADDRESS and TF_HTTP_UNLOCK_ADDRESS are set, be sure to update the state names there.

Alternatively, you can migrate your terraform state.