Merge request approvals

Introduced in GitLab Enterprise Edition 7.12, available in GitLab Enterprise Edition Starter.


If you want to make sure every merge request is approved by one or more people, you can enforce this workflow by using merge request approvals.

Merge request approvals allow you to set the number of necessary approvals and predefine a list of approvers that will need to approve every merge request in a project.

Use cases

There are numerous use cases for merge request approvals. For instance, let's consider you're a backend developer working in a team:

  1. You submit changes to your project via merge request
  2. You gather feedback from your team members in the merge request
  3. You build, test, and deploy your app with GitLab CI/CD
  4. Once everything is ready to ship, you add your manager and the project manager as approvers to that merge request
  5. Your approvers get a notification and review your modifications
  6. You need to address your managers' comments, so you push again to your branch
  7. Once you pushed, that merge request will need another round of approvals
  8. You ask your managers again for their approval
  9. They approve and merge

This example workflow prevents your implementations from being merged before getting approvals from both managers.

Configuring Approvals

Merge Request Approvals in Project Settings

Activate merge request approvals

In the project settings, check this checkbox to turn on the feature.


Select the individual users or groups that are eligible approvers for merge requests in this project.

Approvals required

Enter the minimum number of approvals required. If the number of approvals received on a merge request so far is smaller than this number, the merge request cannot be merged. (The merge button is disabled.)

Can override approvers and approvals required per merge request

Introduced in GitLab Enterprise Edition 9.4.

Check this checkbox to increase the minimum number of approvals required, per merge request, over the project settings number above. (You cannot set a minimum below the project settings number.) You can also add or remove eligible approvers, per merge request.

Reset approvals on push

With this setting turned on, approvals are reset when a new push is done to the merge request branch.

Turn Reset approvals on push off if you want approvals to persist, independent of changes to the merge request.

Approvals do not get reset when rebasing a merge request from the UI.

If one of the approvers pushes a commit to the branch that is tied to the merge request, they automatically get excluded from the approvers list.


In the Approvers section you can select the eligible users that can approve a merge request.

Depending on the number of required approvals and the number of approvers set, there are different cases:

  • If there are more approvers than required approvals, any subset of these users can approve the merge request.
  • If there are less approvers than required approvals, all the set approvers plus any other user(s) need to approve the merge request before being able to merge it.
  • If the approvers are equal to the amount of required approvals, all the approvers are required to approve the merge request.

Note that approvers and the number of required approvals can be changed while creating or editing a merge request.

When someone is marked as an eligible approver for a merge request, an email is sent to them and a todo is added to their list of todos.

Selecting individual approvers

GitLab restricts the users that can be selected to be individual approvers. Only these can be selected and appear in the search box:

  • Members of the project
  • Members of the parent group of the project
  • Members of a group that have access to the project via a share

Selecting group approvers

Introduced in GitLab Enterprise Edition 8.13.

You can also define one or more groups that can be assigned as approvers. It works the same way like regular approvers do, the only difference is that you assign several users with one action. One possible scenario would be to to assign a group of approvers at the project level and change them later when creating or editing the merge request.

Removing approval

A designated approver can remove their approval at any time. If, when an approver removes their approval, the number of approvals given falls below the number of required approvals, the merge request cannot be merged.

If, on the other hand, an approver removes their approval but the number of approvals given stays at or above the number of required approvals, the merge request can still be merged.

Merge request with different source branch and target branch projects

If the merge request source branch and target branch belong to different projects (which happens in merge requests in forked projects), everything is with respect to the target branch's project (typically the original project). In particular, since the merge request in this case is part of the target branch's project, the relevant settings are the target project's. The source branch's project settings are not applicable. Even if you start the merge request from the source branch's project UI, pay attention to the created merge request itself. It belongs to the target branch's project.

Using approvals

After configuring approvals, you will be able to change the default set of approvers and the amount of required approvals before creating the merge request. The amount of required approvals, if changed, must be greater than the default set at the project level. This ensures that you're not forced to adjust settings when someone is unavailable for approval, yet the process is still enforced.

If the approvers are changed via the project's settings after a merge request is created, the merge request retains the previous approvers, but you can always change them by editing the merge request.

The author of a merge request cannot be set as an approver for that merge request.

To approve a merge request, simply press the Approve merge request button.

Merge request approval

Once you approve, the button will disappear and the number of approvers will be decreased by one.

Merge request approval

To remove approval, just press the Remove your approval button

Merge request remove approval