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License approval policies

DETAILS: Tier: Ultimate Offering: SaaS, self-managed

License approval policies allow you to specify multiple types of criteria that define when approval is required before a merge request can be merged in.

NOTE: License approval policies are applicable only to protected target branches.

The following video provides an overview of these policies.

Prerequisites to creating a new license approval policy

License approval policies rely on the output of a dependency scanning job to verify that requirements have been met. If dependency scanning has not been properly configured, and therefore no dependency scanning jobs ran related to an open MR, the policy has no data with which to verify the requirements. When security policies are missing data for evaluation, they fail closed and assume the merge request could contain vulnerabilities.

To ensure enforcement of your policies, you should enable dependency scanning on your target development projects. You can achieve this a few different ways:

Create a new license approval policy

Create a license approval policy to enforce license compliance.

To create a license approval policy:

  1. Link a security policy project to your development group, subgroup, or project (the Owner role is required).
  2. On the left sidebar, select Search or go to and find your project.
  3. Select Secure > Policies.
  4. Create a new Scan Result Policy.
  5. In your policy rule, select License scanning.

Criteria defining which licenses require approval

The following types of criteria can be used to determine which licenses are "approved" or "denied" and require approval.

  • When any license in a list of explicitly prohibited licenses is detected.
  • When any license is detected except for licenses that have been explicitly listed as acceptable.

Criteria comparing licenses detected in the merge request branch to licenses detected in the default branch

The following types of criteria can be used to determine whether or not approval is required based on the licenses that exist in the default branch:

  • Denied licenses can be configured to only require approval if the denied license is part of a dependency that does not already exist in the default branch.
  • Denied licenses can be configured to require approval if the denied license exists in any component that already exists in the default branch.

License approval policy

If a license is found that violates the license approval policy, it blocks the merge request and instructs the developer to remove it. Note, the merge request is not able to be merged until the denied license is removed unless an eligible approver for the License Approval Policy approves the merge request.

Merge request with denied licenses


The License Compliance widget is stuck in a loading state

A loading spinner is displayed in the following scenarios:

  • While the pipeline is in progress.
  • If the pipeline is complete, but still parsing the results in the background.
  • If the license scanning job is complete, but the pipeline is still running.

The License Compliance widget polls every few seconds for updated results. When the pipeline is complete, the first poll after pipeline completion triggers the parsing of the results. This can take a few seconds depending on the size of the generated report.

The final state is when a successful pipeline run has been completed, parsed, and the licenses displayed in the widget.