Troubleshooting SAML (FREE ALL)

This page contains possible solutions for problems you might encounter when using:

SAML debugging tools

SAML responses are base64 encoded, so we recommend the following browser plugins to decode them on the fly:

Pay specific attention to:

  • The NameID, which we use to identify which user is signing in. If the user has previously signed in, this must match the value we have stored.
  • The presence of a X509Certificate, which we require to verify the response signature.
  • The SubjectConfirmation and Conditions, which can cause errors if misconfigured.

Generate a SAML response

Use SAML responses to preview the attribute names and values sent in the assertions list while attempting to sign in using an identity provider.

To generate a SAML Response:

  1. Install one of the browser debugging tools.
  2. Open a new browser tab.
  3. Open the SAML tracer console:
    • Chrome: On a context menu on the page, select Inspect, then select the SAML tab in the opened developer console.
    • Firefox: Select the SAML-tracer icon located on the browser toolbar.
  4. Go to the GitLab single sign-on URL for the group in the same browser tab with the SAML tracer open.
  5. Select Authorize or attempt to sign in. A SAML response is displayed in the tracer console that resembles this example SAML response.
  6. Within the SAML tracer, select the Export icon to save the response in JSON format.

Testing GitLab SAML

You can use one of the following to troubleshoot SAML:

Verify configuration

For convenience, we've included some example resources used by our Support Team. While they may help you verify the SAML app configuration, they are not guaranteed to reflect the current state of third-party products.

Calculate the fingerprint

If you use a idp_cert_fingerprint, it must be a SHA1 fingerprint. To calculate a SHA1 fingerprint, download the certificate file and run:

openssl x509 -in <filename.crt> -noout -fingerprint -sha1

Replace filename.crt with the name of the certificate file.

Searching Rails log for a SAML response (FREE SELF)

You can find the base64-encoded SAML Response in the production_json.log. This response is sent from the identity provider, and contains user information that is consumed by GitLab. Many errors in the SAML integration can be solved by decoding this response and comparing it to the SAML settings in the GitLab configuration file.

For example, with SAML for groups, you should be able to find the base64 encoded SAML response by searching with the following filters:

  • json.meta.caller_id: Groups::OmniauthCallbacksController#group_saml
  • json.meta.user or json.username: username
  • json.method: POST
  • json.path: /groups/GROUP-PATH/-/saml/callback

In a relevant log entry, the json.params should provide a valid response with:

  • "key": "SAMLResponse" and the "value": (full SAML response),
  • "key": "RelayState" with "value": "/group-path", and
  • "key": "group_id" with "value": "group-path".

You should also check the decoded SAML response with the following filters in case the customer has configured SAML Group Sync:

  • json.class: GroupSamlGroupSyncWorker
  • json.args: <user ID> or <group ID>

In the relevant log entry, the:

  • json.args are in the form <userID>, <group ID>, [group link ID 1, group link ID 2, ..., group link ID N].
  • json.extra.group_saml_group_sync_worker.stats.* fields show how many times this run of group sync added, removed or changed the user's membership.

In some cases, if the SAML response is lengthy, you may receive a "key": "truncated" with "value":"...". In these cases, use one of the SAML debugging tools, or for SAML SSO for groups, a group owner can get a copy of the SAML response from when they select the "Verify SAML Configuration" button on the group SSO Settings page.

Use a base64 decoder to see a human-readable version of the SAML response. To avoid pasting the SAML response online to decode it, you can use your browser's console in the developers tools:

atob(decodeURI("<paste_SAML_response_here>"))

You should get the SAML response in XML format as output.

Configuration errors

Invalid audience

This error means that the identity provider doesn't recognize GitLab as a valid sender and receiver of SAML requests. Make sure to:

  • Add the GitLab callback URL to the approved audiences of the identity provider server.
  • Avoid trailing whitespace in the issuer string.

Key validation error, Digest mismatch or Fingerprint mismatch

These errors all come from a similar place, the SAML certificate. SAML requests must be validated using either a fingerprint, a certificate, or a validator.

For this requirement, be sure to take the following into account:

  • If you use a fingerprint, it must be the correct SHA1 fingerprint. To confirm that you are using the correct SHA1 fingerprint:
    1. Re-download the certificate file.
    2. Calculate the fingerprint.
    3. Compare the fingerprint to the value provided in idp_cert_fingerprint. The values should be the same.
  • If no certificate is provided in the settings, a fingerprint or fingerprint validator needs to be provided and the response from the server must contain a certificate (<ds:KeyInfo><ds:X509Data><ds:X509Certificate>).
  • If a certificate is provided in the settings, it is no longer necessary for the request to contain one. In this case the fingerprint or fingerprint validators are optional.

If none of the above described scenarios is valid, the request fails with one of the mentioned errors.

Missing claims, or Email can't be blank errors

The identity provider server needs to pass certain information in order for GitLab to either create an account, or match the login information to an existing account. email is the minimum amount of information that needs to be passed. If the identity provider server is not providing this information, all SAML requests fail.

Make sure this information is provided.

Another issue that can result in this error is when the correct information is being sent by the identity provider, but the attributes don't match the names in the OmniAuth info hash. In this case, you must set attribute_statements in the SAML configuration to map the attribute names in your SAML Response to the corresponding OmniAuth info hash names.

User sign in banner error messages

Message: "SAML authentication failed: Extern UID has already been taken"

This error suggests you are signed in as a GitLab user but have already linked your SAML identity to a different GitLab user. Sign out and then try to sign in again using SAML, which should log you into GitLab with the linked user account.

If you do not wish to use that GitLab user with the SAML login, you can unlink the GitLab account from the SAML app.

Message: "SAML authentication failed: User has already been taken"

The user that you're signed in with already has SAML linked to a different identity, or the NameID value has changed. Here are possible causes and solutions:

Cause Solution
You've tried to link multiple SAML identities to the same user, for a given identity provider. Change the identity that you sign in with. To do so, unlink the previous SAML identity from this GitLab account before attempting to sign in again.
The NameID changes every time the user requests SSO identification Check the NameID is not set with Transient format, or the NameID is not changing on subsequent requests.

Message: "SAML authentication failed: Email has already been taken"

Cause Solution
When a user account with the email address already exists in GitLab, but the user does not have the SAML identity tied to their account. The user needs to link their account.

User accounts are created in one of the following ways:

  • User registration
  • Sign in through OAuth
  • Sign in through SAML
  • SCIM provisioning

Message: "SAML authentication failed: Extern UID has already been taken, User has already been taken"

Getting both of these errors at the same time suggests the NameID capitalization provided by the identity provider didn't exactly match the previous value for that user.

This can be prevented by configuring the NameID to return a consistent value. Fixing this for an individual user involves changing the identifier for the user. For GitLab.com, the user needs to unlink their SAML from the GitLab account.

Message: "Request to link SAML account must be authorized"

Ensure that the user who is trying to link their GitLab account has been added as a user within the identity provider's SAML app.

Alternatively, the SAML response may be missing the InResponseTo attribute in the samlp:Response tag, which is expected by the SAML gem. The identity provider administrator should ensure that the login is initiated by the service provider and not only the identity provider.

Message: "There is already a GitLab account associated with this email address. Sign in with your existing credentials to connect your organization's account" (PREMIUM SAAS)

A user can see this message when they are trying to manually link SAML to their existing GitLab.com account.

To resolve this problem, the user should check they are using the correct GitLab password to sign in. The user first needs to reset their password if both:

  • The account was provisioned by SCIM.
  • They are signing in with username and password for the first time.

Message: "SAML Name ID and email address do not match your user account" (PREMIUM SAAS)

Users might get an error that states "SAML Name ID and email address do not match your user account. Contact an administrator." This means:

  • The NameID value sent by SAML does not match the existing SAML identity extern_uid value. Both the NameID and the extern_uid are case sensitive. For more information, see manage user SAML identity.
  • Either the SAML response did not include an email address or the email address did not match the user's GitLab email address.

The workaround is that a GitLab group Owner uses the SAML API to update the user's SAML extern_uid. The extern_uid value must match the Name ID value sent by the SAML identity provider (IdP). Depending on the IdP configuration this may be a generated unique ID, an email address, or other value.

Other user sign in issues

Verify NameID

In troubleshooting, any authenticated user can use the API to verify the NameID GitLab already has linked to their user by visiting https://gitlab.com/api/v4/user and checking the extern_uid under identities.

For self-managed, administrators can use the users API to see the same information.

When using SAML for groups, group members of a role with the appropriate permissions can make use of the members API to view group SAML identity information for members of the group.

This can then be compared to the NameID being sent by the identity provider by decoding the message with a SAML debugging tool. We require that these match to identify users.

Stuck in a login "loop"

Ensure that the GitLab single sign-on URL (for GitLab.com) or the instance URL (for self-managed) has been configured as "Login URL" (or similarly named field) in the identity provider's SAML app.

For GitLab.com, alternatively, when users need to link SAML to their existing GitLab.com account, provide the GitLab single sign-on URL and instruct users not to use the SAML app on first sign in.

Users receive a 404 (PREMIUM SAAS)

Because SAML SSO for groups is a paid feature, your subscription expiring can result in a 404 error when you're signing in using SAML SSO on GitLab.com. If all users are receiving a 404 when attempting to sign in using SAML, confirm there is an active subscription being used in this SAML SSO namespace.

If you receive a 404 during setup when using "verify configuration", make sure you have used the correct SHA-1 generated fingerprint.

If a user is trying to sign in for the first time and the GitLab single sign-on URL has not been configured, they may see a 404. As outlined in the user access section, a group Owner needs to provide the URL to users.

If the top-level group has restricted membership by email domain, and a user with an email domain that is not allowed tries to sign in with SSO, that user might receive a 404. Users might have multiple accounts, and their SAML identity might be linked to their personal account which has an email address that is different than the company domain. To check this, verify the following:

  • That the top-level group has restricted membership by email domain.
  • That, in Audit Events for the top-level group:
    • You can see Signed in with GROUP_SAML authentication action for that user.
    • That the user's username is the same as the username you configured for SAML SSO, by selecting the Author name.
      • If the username is different to the username you configured for SAML SSO, ask the user to unlink the SAML identity from their personal account.

If all users are receiving a 404 after signing in to the identity provider (IdP):

If a subset of users are receiving a 404 after signing in to the IdP, first verify audit events if the user gets added to the group and then immediately removed. Alternatively, if the user can successfully sign in, but they do not show as a member of the top-level group:

  • Ensure the user has been added to the SAML identity provider, and SCIM if configured.

  • Ensure the user's SCIM identity's active attribute is true using the SCIM API. If the active attribute is false, you can do one of the following to possibly resolve the issue:

    • Trigger a sync for the user in the SCIM identity provider. For example, Azure has a "Provision on demand" option.

    • Remove and re-add the user in the SCIM identity provider.

    • Have the user unlink their account if possible, then link their account.

    • Use the internal SCIM API to update the user's SCIM identity using your group's SCIM token. If you do not know your group's SCIM token, reset the token and update the SCIM identity provider app with the new token. Example request:

      curl --request PATCH "https://gitlab.example.com/api/scim/v2/groups/test_group/Users/f0b1d561c-21ff-4092-beab-8154b17f82f2" --header "Authorization: Bearer <SCIM_TOKEN>" --data '{ "Operations": [{"op":"Replace","path":"active","value":"true"}] }'

500 error after login (FREE SELF)

If you see a "500 error" in GitLab when you are redirected back from the SAML sign-in page, this could indicate that:

  • GitLab couldn't get the email address for the SAML user. Ensure the identity provider provides a claim containing the user's email address using the claim name email or mail.
  • The certificate set your gitlab.rb file for identity provider_cert_fingerprint or identity provider_cert file is incorrect.
  • Your gitlab.rb file is set to enable identity provider_cert_fingerprint, and identity provider_cert is being provided, or the reverse.

422 error after login (FREE SELF)

If you see a "422 error" in GitLab when you are redirected from the SAML sign-in page, you might have an incorrectly configured Assertion Consumer Service (ACS) URL on the identity provider.

Make sure the ACS URL points to https://gitlab.example.com/users/auth/saml/callback, where gitlab.example.com is the URL of your GitLab instance.

If the ACS URL is correct, and you still have errors, review the other Troubleshooting sections.

422 error with non-allowed email

You might get an 422 error that states "Email is not allowed for sign-up. Please use your regular email address."

This message might indicate that you must add or remove a domain from your domain allowlist or denylist settings.

To implement this workaround:

  1. On the left sidebar, select Search or go to.
  2. Select Admin Area.
  3. Select Settings > General.
  4. Expand Sign-up restrictions.
  5. Add or remove a domain as appropriate to Allowed domains for sign-ups and Denied domains for sign-ups.
  6. Select Save changes.

User is blocked when signing in through SAML (FREE SELF)

The following are the most likely reasons that a user is blocked when signing in through SAML:

  • In the configuration, gitlab_rails['omniauth_block_auto_created_users'] = true is set and this is the user's first time signing in.
  • required_groups are configured but the user is not a member of one.

Google workspace troubleshooting tips

The Google Workspace documentation on SAML app error messages is helpful for debugging if you are seeing an error from Google while signing in. Pay particular attention to the following 403 errors:

  • app_not_configured
  • app_not_configured_for_user

Message: "The member's email address is not linked to a SAML account" (PREMIUM SAAS)

This error appears when you try to invite a user to a GitLab.com group (or subgroup or project within a group) that has SAML SSO enforcement enabled.

If you see this message after trying to invite a user to a group:

  1. Ensure the user has been added to the SAML identity provider.
  2. Ask the user to link SAML to their existing GitLab.com account, if they have one. Otherwise, ask the user to create a GitLab.com account by accessing GitLab.com through the identity provider's dashboard, or by signing up manually and linking SAML to their new account.
  3. Ensure the user is a member of the top-level group.

Additionally, see troubleshooting users receiving a 404 after sign in.

Message: The SAML response did not contain an email address. Either the SAML identity provider is not configured to send the attribute, or the identity provider directory does not have an email address value for your user

This error appears when the SAML response does not contain the user's email address in an email or mail attribute as shown in the following example:

<Attribute Name="email">
  <AttributeValue>user@domain.com‹/AttributeValue>
</Attribute>

Attribute names starting with phrases such as http://schemas.microsoft.com/ws/2008/06/identity/claims/ like in the following example are not supported. Remove this type of attribute name from the SAML response on the IDP side.

<Attribute Name="http://schemas.microsoft.com/ws/2008/06/identity/claims/email">
  <AttributeValue>user@domain.com‹/AttributeValue>
</Attribute>