License Compliance (ULTIMATE)

Introduced in GitLab Ultimate 11.0.


If you are using GitLab CI/CD, you can search your project dependencies for their licenses using License Compliance.

You can take advantage of License Compliance by either including the job in your existing .gitlab-ci.yml file or by implicitly using Auto License Compliance that is provided by Auto DevOps.

GitLab checks the License Compliance report, compares the licenses between the source and target branches, and shows the information right on the merge request. Blacklisted licenses will be clearly visible with an x red icon next to them as well as new licenses which need a decision from you. In addition, you can manually approve or blacklist licenses in your project's settings.

NOTE: Note: If the license compliance report doesn't have anything to compare to, no information will be displayed in the merge request area. That is the case when you add the license_management job in your .gitlab-ci.yml for the first time. Consecutive merge requests will have something to compare to and the license compliance report will be shown properly.

License Compliance Widget

If you are a project or group Maintainer, you can click on a license to be given the choice to approve it or blacklist it.

License approval decision

Use cases

It helps you find what licenses your project uses in its dependencies, and decide for each of then whether to allow it or forbid it. For example, your application is using an external (open source) library whose license is incompatible with yours.

Supported languages and package managers

The following languages and package managers are supported.

Language Package managers Scan Tool
JavaScript Bower, npm, yarn (experimental support) License Finder
Go Godep, go get (experimental support), gvt (experimental support), glide (experimental support), dep (experimental support), trash (experimental support) and govendor (experimental support), go mod (experimental support) License Finder
Java Gradle, Maven License Finder
.NET Nuget License Finder
Python pip License Finder
Ruby gem License Finder
Erlang rebar (experimental support) License Finder
Objective-C, Swift Carthage , CocoaPods v0.39 and below (experimental support) License Finder
Elixir mix (experimental support) License Finder
C++/C conan (experimental support) License Finder
Scala sbt (experimental support) License Finder
Rust cargo (experimental support) License Finder
PHP composer (experimental support) License Finder


To run a License Compliance scanning job, you need GitLab Runner with the docker executor.


For GitLab 11.9 and later, to enable License Compliance, you must include the License-Management.gitlab-ci.yml template that's provided as a part of your GitLab installation. For GitLab versions earlier than 11.9, you can copy and use the job as defined that template.

Add the following to your .gitlab-ci.yml file:

  template: License-Management.gitlab-ci.yml

The included template will create a license_management job in your CI/CD pipeline and scan your dependencies to find their licenses.

The results will be saved as a License Compliance report artifact that you can later download and analyze. Due to implementation limitations, we always take the latest License Compliance artifact available. Behind the scenes, the GitLab License Compliance Docker image is used to detect the languages/frameworks and in turn analyzes the licenses.

The License Compliance settings can be changed through environment variables by using the variables parameter in .gitlab-ci.yml.

Available variables

License Compliance can be configured using environment variables.

Environment variable Required Description
MAVEN_CLI_OPTS no Additional arguments for the mvn executable. If not supplied, defaults to -DskipTests.
LICENSE_FINDER_CLI_OPTS no Additional arguments for the license_finder executable. For example, if your project has both Golang and Ruby code stored in different directories and you want to only scan the Ruby code, you can update your .gitlab-ci-yml template to specify which project directories to scan, like LICENSE_FINDER_CLI_OPTS: '--debug --aggregate-paths=. ruby'.
LM_JAVA_VERSION no Version of Java. If set to 11, Maven and Gradle use Java 11 instead of Java 8.
LM_PYTHON_VERSION no Version of Python. If set to 3, dependencies are installed using Python 3 instead of Python 2.7.
SETUP_CMD no Custom setup for the dependency installation. (experimental)

Installing custom dependencies

Introduced in GitLab Ultimate 11.4.

The license_management image already embeds many auto-detection scripts, languages, and packages. Nevertheless, it's almost impossible to cover all cases for all projects. That's why sometimes it's necessary to install extra packages, or to have extra steps in the project automated setup, like the download and installation of a certificate. For that, a LICENSE_MANAGEMENT_SETUP_CMD environment variable can be passed to the container, with the required commands to run before the license detection.

If present, this variable will override the setup step necessary to install all the packages of your application (e.g.: for a project with a Gemfile, the setup step could be bundle install).

For example:

  template: License-Management.gitlab-ci.yml


In this example, is a shell script at the root directory of your project.

Overriding the template

If you want to override the job definition (for example, change properties like variables or dependencies), you need to declare a license_management job after the template inclusion and specify any additional keys under it. For example:

  template: License-Management.gitlab-ci.yml

    CI_DEBUG_TRACE: "true"

Configuring Maven projects

The License Compliance tool provides a MAVEN_CLI_OPTS environment variable which can hold the command line arguments to pass to the mvn install command which is executed under the hood. Feel free to use it for the customization of Maven execution. For example:

  template: License-Management.gitlab-ci.yml

    MAVEN_CLI_OPTS: --debug

mvn install runs through all of the build life cycle stages prior to install, including test. Running unit tests is not directly necessary for the license scanning purposes and consumes time, so it's skipped by having the default value of MAVEN_CLI_OPTS as -DskipTests. If you want to supply custom MAVEN_CLI_OPTS and skip tests at the same time, don't forget to explicitly add -DskipTests to your options. If you still need to run tests during mvn install, add -DskipTests=false to MAVEN_CLI_OPTS.

Selecting the version of Python

License Compliance uses Python 3.5 and pip 19.1 by default. If your project requires Python 2, you can switch to Python 2.7 and pip 10.0 by setting the LM_PYTHON_VERSION environment variable to 2.

  template: License-Management.gitlab-ci.yml


Project policies for License Compliance

Introduced in GitLab Ultimate 11.4.

From the project's settings:

  • The list of licenses and their status can be managed.
  • Licenses can be manually approved or blacklisted.

To approve or blacklist a license:

  1. Either use the Manage licenses button in the merge request widget, or navigate to the project's Settings > CI/CD and expand the License Compliance section.

  2. Click the Add a license button.

    License Compliance Add License

  3. In the License name dropdown, either:

    • Select one of the available licenses. You can search for licenses in the field at the top of the list.
    • Enter arbitrary text in the field at the top of the list. This will cause the text to be added as a license name to the list.
  4. Select the Approve or Blacklist radio button to approve or blacklist respectively the selected license.

To modify an existing license:

  1. In the License Compliance list, click the Approved/Declined dropdown to change it to the desired status.

    License Compliance Settings

Searching for Licenses:

  1. Use the Search box to search for a specific license.

    License Compliance Search

License Compliance report under pipelines

Introduced in GitLab Ultimate 11.2.

From your project's left sidebar, navigate to CI/CD > Pipelines and click on the pipeline ID that has a license_management job to see the Licenses tab with the listed licenses (if any).

License Compliance Pipeline Tab

License list

Introduced in GitLab Ultimate 12.7.

The License list allows you to see your project's licenses and key details about them.

In order for the licenses to appear under the license list, the following requirements must be met:

  1. The License Compliance CI job must be configured for your project.
  2. Your project must use at least one of the supported languages and package managers.

Once everything is set, navigate to Security & Compliance > License Compliance in your project's sidebar, and you'll see the licenses displayed, where:

  • Name: The name of the license.
  • Component: The components which have this license.

License List