Project import/export

  • Introduced in GitLab 8.9.
  • From GitLab 10.0, administrators can disable the project export option on the GitLab instance.

Existing projects running on any GitLab instance or can be exported with all their related data and be moved into a new GitLab instance.

The GitLab import/export button is displayed if the project import option is enabled.

See also:

To set up a project import/export:

  1. Navigate to Admin Area > Settings > Visibility and access controls.
  2. Scroll to Import sources
  3. Enable desired Import sources

Important notes

Note the following:

  • Before you can import a project, you need to export the data first. See Exporting a project and its data for how you can export a project through the UI.
  • Imports from a newer version of GitLab are not supported. The Importing GitLab version must be greater than or equal to the Exporting GitLab version.
  • Imports fail unless the import and export GitLab instances are compatible as described in the Version history.
  • Exports are generated in your configured shared_path, a temporary shared directory, and are moved to your configured uploads_directory. Every 24 hours, a specific worker deletes these export files.
  • Group members are exported as project members, as long as the user has maintainer or administrator access to the group where the exported project lives.
  • Project members with owner access are imported as maintainers.
  • Imported users can be mapped by their primary email on self-managed instances, if an administrative user (not an owner) does the import. Otherwise, a supplementary comment is left to mention that the original author and the MRs, notes, or issues are owned by the importer.
  • If an imported project contains merge requests originating from forks, then new branches associated with such merge requests are created within a project during the import/export. Thus, the number of branches in the exported project could be bigger than in the original project.
  • Deploy keys allowed to push to protected branches are not exported. Therefore, you need to recreate this association by first enabling these deploy keys in your imported project and then updating your protected branches accordingly.

Version history


In GitLab 14.0, the JSON format is no longer supported for project and group exports. To allow for a transitional period, you can still import any JSON exports. The new format for imports and exports is NDJSON.


Starting with GitLab 13.0, GitLab can import bundles that were exported from a different GitLab deployment. This ability is limited to two previous GitLab minor releases, which is similar to our process for Security Releases.

For example:

Current version Can import bundles exported from
13.0 13.0, 12.10, 12.9
13.1 13.1, 13.0, 12.10


Prior to 13.0 this was a defined compatibility table:

Exporting GitLab version Importing GitLab version
11.7 to 12.10 11.7 to 12.10
11.1 to 11.6 11.1 to 11.6
10.8 to 11.0 10.8 to 11.0
10.4 to 10.7 10.4 to 10.7
10.3 10.3
10.0 to 10.2 10.0 to 10.2
9.4 to 9.6 9.4 to 9.6
9.2 to 9.3 9.2 to 9.3
8.17 to 9.1 8.17 to 9.1
8.13 to 8.16 8.13 to 8.16
8.12 8.12
8.10.3 to 8.11 8.10.3 to 8.11
8.10.0 to 8.10.2 8.10.0 to 8.10.2
8.9.5 to 8.9.11 8.9.5 to 8.9.11
8.9.0 to 8.9.4 8.9.0 to 8.9.4

Projects can be exported and imported only between versions of GitLab with matching Import/Export versions.

For example, 8.10.3 and 8.11 have the same Import/Export version (0.1.3) and the exports between them are compatible.

Between CE and EE

You can export projects from the Community Edition to the Enterprise Edition and vice versa. This assumes version history requirements are met.

If you're exporting a project from the Enterprise Edition to the Community Edition, you may lose data that is retained only in the Enterprise Edition. For more information, see downgrading from EE to CE.

Exported contents

The following items are exported:

  • Project and wiki repositories
  • Project uploads
  • Project configuration, excluding integrations
  • Issues with comments, merge requests with diffs and comments, labels, milestones, snippets, time tracking, and other project entities
  • Design Management files and data
  • LFS objects
  • Issue boards
  • Pipelines history
  • Push Rules
  • Awards

The following items are not exported:

  • Build traces and artifacts
  • Container registry images
  • CI/CD variables
  • Webhooks
  • Any encrypted tokens
  • Merge Request Approvers

NOTE: For more details on the specific data persisted in a project export, see the import_export.yml file.

Exporting a project and its data

Full project export functionality is limited to project maintainers and owners. You can configure such functionality through project settings:

To export a project and its data, follow these steps:

  1. Go to your project's homepage.

  2. Click Settings in the sidebar.

  3. Scroll down to find the Export project button:

    Export button

  4. Once the export is generated, you should receive an e-mail with a link to download the file:

    Email download link

  5. Alternatively, you can come back to the project settings and download the file from there, or generate a new export. Once the file is available, the page should show the Download export button:

    Download export

Importing the project

  1. The GitLab project import feature is the first import option when creating a new project. Click on GitLab export:

    New project

  2. Enter your project name and URL. Then select the file you exported previously:

    Select file

  3. Click on Import project to begin importing. Your newly imported project page appears shortly.

NOTE: If use of the Internal visibility level is restricted, all imported projects are given the visibility of Private.

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 UI. Default modified from 50MB to 0 in GitLab 13.8.

Project import status

You can query an import through the Project import/export API. As described in the API documentation, the query may return an import error or exceptions.

Import large projects (FREE SELF)

If you have a larger project, consider using a Rake task, as described in our developer documentation.

Rate Limits

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

Request Type Limit
Export 6 projects per minute
Download export 1 download per group per minute
Import 6 projects per minute

Please note that may have different settings from the defaults.