When receiving a job from GitLab CI, the Runner prepares the build environment. It starts by setting a list of predefined variables (environment variables) and a list of user-defined variables.

Priority of variables

The variables can be overwritten and they take precedence over each other in this order:

  1. Trigger variables (take precedence over all)
  2. Secret variables
  3. YAML-defined job-level variables
  4. YAML-defined global variables
  5. Deployment variables
  6. Predefined variables (are the lowest in the chain)

For example, if you define API_TOKEN=secure as a secret variable and API_TOKEN=yaml in your .gitlab-ci.yml, the API_TOKEN will take the value secure as the secret variables are higher in the chain.

Predefined variables (Environment variables)

Some of the predefined environment variables are available only if a minimum version of GitLab Runner is used. Consult the table below to find the version of Runner required.

Note: Starting with GitLab 9.0, we have deprecated some variables. Read the 9.0 Renaming section to find out their replacements. You are strongly advised to use the new variables as we will remove the old ones in future GitLab releases.

Variable GitLab Runner Description
CI all 0.4 Mark that job is executed in CI environment
CI_COMMIT_REF_NAME 9.0 all The branch or tag name for which project is built
CI_COMMIT_REF_SLUG 9.0 all $CI_COMMIT_REF_NAME lowercased, shortened to 63 bytes, and with everything except 0-9 and a-z replaced with -. Use in URLs and domain names.
CI_COMMIT_SHA 9.0 all The commit revision for which project is built
CI_COMMIT_TAG 9.0 0.5 The commit tag name. Present only when building tags.
CI_DEBUG_TRACE all 1.7 Whether debug tracing is enabled
CI_ENVIRONMENT_NAME 8.15 all The name of the environment for this job
CI_ENVIRONMENT_SLUG 8.15 all A simplified version of the environment name, suitable for inclusion in DNS, URLs, Kubernetes labels, etc.
CI_JOB_ID 9.0 all The unique id of the current job that GitLab CI uses internally
CI_JOB_MANUAL 8.12 all The flag to indicate that job was manually started
CI_JOB_NAME 9.0 0.5 The name of the job as defined in .gitlab-ci.yml
CI_JOB_STAGE 9.0 0.5 The name of the stage as defined in .gitlab-ci.yml
CI_JOB_TOKEN 9.0 1.2 Token used for authenticating with the GitLab Container Registry
CI_REPOSITORY_URL 9.0 all The URL to clone the Git repository
CI_RUNNER_DESCRIPTION 8.10 0.5 The description of the runner as saved in GitLab
CI_RUNNER_ID 8.10 0.5 The unique id of runner being used
CI_RUNNER_TAGS 8.10 0.5 The defined runner tags
CI_PIPELINE_ID 8.10 0.5 The unique id of the current pipeline that GitLab CI uses internally
CI_PIPELINE_TRIGGERED all all The flag to indicate that job was triggered
CI_PROJECT_DIR all all The full path where the repository is cloned and where the job is run
CI_PROJECT_ID all all The unique id of the current project that GitLab CI uses internally
CI_PROJECT_NAME 8.10 0.5 The project name that is currently being built
CI_PROJECT_NAMESPACE 8.10 0.5 The project namespace (username or groupname) that is currently being built
CI_PROJECT_PATH 8.10 0.5 The namespace with project name
CI_PROJECT_URL 8.10 0.5 The HTTP address to access project
CI_REGISTRY 8.10 0.5 If the Container Registry is enabled it returns the address of GitLab's Container Registry
CI_REGISTRY_IMAGE 8.10 0.5 If the Container Registry is enabled for the project it returns the address of the registry tied to the specific project
CI_REGISTRY_PASSWORD 9.0 all The password to use to push containers to the GitLab Container Registry
CI_REGISTRY_USER 9.0 all The username to use to push containers to the GitLab Container Registry
CI_SERVER all all Mark that job is executed in CI environment
CI_SERVER_NAME all all The name of CI server that is used to coordinate jobs
CI_SERVER_REVISION all all GitLab revision that is used to schedule jobs
CI_SERVER_VERSION all all GitLab version that is used to schedule jobs
ARTIFACT_DOWNLOAD_ATTEMPTS 8.15 1.9 Number of attempts to download artifacts running a job
GET_SOURCES_ATTEMPTS 8.15 1.9 Number of attempts to fetch sources running a job
GITLAB_CI all all Mark that job is executed in GitLab CI environment
GITLAB_USER_ID 8.12 all The id of the user who started the job
GITLAB_USER_EMAIL 8.12 all The email of the user who started the job
RESTORE_CACHE_ATTEMPTS 8.15 1.9 Number of attempts to restore the cache running a job

9.0 Renaming

To follow conventions of naming across GitLab, and to futher move away from the build term and toward job CI variables have been renamed for the 9.0 release.

8.x name 9.0+ name

.gitlab-ci.yaml defined variables

Note: This feature requires GitLab Runner 0.5.0 or higher and GitLab CI 7.14 or higher.

GitLab CI allows you to add to .gitlab-ci.yml variables that are set in the build environment. The variables are hence saved in the repository, and they are meant to store non-sensitive project configuration, e.g., RAILS_ENV or DATABASE_URL.

For example, if you set the variable below globally (not inside a job), it will be used in all executed commands and scripts:

  DATABASE_URL: "postgres://postgres@postgres/my_database"

The YAML-defined variables are also set to all created service containers, thus allowing to fine tune them.

Variables can be defined at a global level, but also at a job level. To turn off global defined variables in your job, define an empty array:

  variables: []

You are able to use other variables inside your variable definition (or escape them with $$):

  FLAGS: '-al'
  - 'eval $LS_CMD'  # will execute 'ls -al $TMP_DIR'

Secret variables


  • This feature requires GitLab Runner 0.4.0 or higher.
  • Be aware that secret variables are not masked, and their values can be shown in the job logs if explicitly asked to do so. If your project is public or internal, you can set the pipelines private from your project's Pipelines settings. Follow the discussion in issue #13784 for masking the secret variables.

GitLab CI allows you to define per-project secret variables that are set in the build environment. The secret variables are stored out of the repository (.gitlab-ci.yml) and are securely passed to GitLab Runner making them available in the build environment. It's the recommended method to use for storing things like passwords, secret keys and credentials.

Secret variables can be added by going to your project's Settings ➔ CI/CD Pipelines, then finding the section called Secret Variables.

Once you set them, they will be available for all subsequent jobs.

Deployment variables

Note: This feature requires GitLab CI 8.15 or higher.

Project services that are responsible for deployment configuration may define their own variables that are set in the build environment. These variables are only defined for deployment jobs. Please consult the documentation of the project services that you are using to learn which variables they define.

An example project service that defines deployment variables is Kubernetes Service.

Debug tracing

Introduced in GitLab Runner 1.7.

WARNING: Enabling debug tracing can have severe security implications. The output will contain the content of all your secret variables and any other secrets! The output will be uploaded to the GitLab server and made visible in job traces!

By default, GitLab Runner hides most of the details of what it is doing when processing a job. This behaviour keeps job traces short, and prevents secrets from being leaked into the trace unless your script writes them to the screen.

If a job isn't working as expected, this can make the problem difficult to investigate; in these cases, you can enable debug tracing in .gitlab-ci.yml. Available on GitLab Runner v1.7+, this feature enables the shell's execution trace, resulting in a verbose job trace listing all commands that were run, variables that were set, etc.

Before enabling this, you should ensure jobs are visible to team members only. You should also erase all generated job traces before making them visible again.

To enable debug traces, set the CI_DEBUG_TRACE variable to true:

    CI_DEBUG_TRACE: "true"

Example truncated output with debug trace set to true:


export CI_SERVER_TLS_CA_FILE="/builds/gitlab-examples/ci-debug-trace.tmp/CI_SERVER_TLS_CA_FILE"
if [[ -d "/builds/gitlab-examples/ci-debug-trace/.git" ]]; then
  echo $'\''\x1b[32;1mFetching changes...\x1b[0;m'\''
  $'\''cd'\'' "/builds/gitlab-examples/ci-debug-trace"
  $'\''git'\'' "config" "fetch.recurseSubmodules" "false"
  $'\''rm'\'' "-f" ".git/index.lock"
  $'\''git'\'' "clean" "-ffdx"
  $'\''git'\'' "reset" "--hard"
  $'\''git'\'' "remote" "set-url" "origin" ""
  $'\''git'\'' "fetch" "origin" "--prune" "+refs/heads/*:refs/remotes/origin/*" "+refs/tags/*:refs/tags/*"
  $'\''mkdir'\'' "-p" "/builds/gitlab-examples/ci-debug-trace.tmp/git-template"
  $'\''rm'\'' "-r" "-f" "/builds/gitlab-examples/ci-debug-trace"
  $'\''git'\'' "config" "-f" "/builds/gitlab-examples/ci-debug-trace.tmp/git-template/config" "fetch.recurseSubmodules" "false"
  echo $'\''\x1b[32;1mCloning repository...\x1b[0;m'\''
  $'\''git'\'' "clone" "--no-checkout" "" "/builds/gitlab-examples/ci-debug-trace" "--template" "/builds/gitlab-examples/ci-debug-trace.tmp/git-template"
  $'\''cd'\'' "/builds/gitlab-examples/ci-debug-trace"
echo $'\''\x1b[32;1mChecking out dd648b2e as master...\x1b[0;m'\''
$'\''git'\'' "checkout" "-f" "-q" "dd648b2e48ce6518303b0bb580b2ee32fadaf045"
+++ hostname
++ echo 'Running on runner-8a2f473d-project-1796893-concurrent-0 via runner-8a2f473d-machine-1480971377-317a7d0f-digital-ocean-4gb...'
Running on runner-8a2f473d-project-1796893-concurrent-0 via runner-8a2f473d-machine-1480971377-317a7d0f-digital-ocean-4gb...
++ export CI=true
++ CI=true
++ export CI_DEBUG_TRACE=false
++ export CI_COMMIT_SHA=dd648b2e48ce6518303b0bb580b2ee32fadaf045
++ CI_COMMIT_SHA=dd648b2e48ce6518303b0bb580b2ee32fadaf045
++ export CI_COMMIT_BEFORE_SHA=dd648b2e48ce6518303b0bb580b2ee32fadaf045
++ CI_COMMIT_BEFORE_SHA=dd648b2e48ce6518303b0bb580b2ee32fadaf045
++ export CI_COMMIT_REF_NAME=master
++ export CI_JOB_ID=7046507
++ CI_JOB_ID=7046507
++ export CI_JOB_TOKEN=xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
++ CI_JOB_TOKEN=xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
++ export CI_PROJECT_ID=1796893
++ CI_PROJECT_ID=1796893
++ export CI_PROJECT_DIR=/builds/gitlab-examples/ci-debug-trace
++ CI_PROJECT_DIR=/builds/gitlab-examples/ci-debug-trace
++ export CI_SERVER=yes
++ CI_SERVER=yes
++ export 'CI_SERVER_NAME=GitLab CI'
++ export GITLAB_CI=true
++ GITLAB_CI=true
++ export CI=true
++ CI=true
++ export GITLAB_CI=true
++ GITLAB_CI=true
++ export CI_JOB_ID=7046507
++ CI_JOB_ID=7046507
++ export CI_JOB_TOKEN=xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
++ CI_JOB_TOKEN=xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
++ export CI_COMMIT_REF=dd648b2e48ce6518303b0bb580b2ee32fadaf045
++ CI_COMMIT_REF=dd648b2e48ce6518303b0bb580b2ee32fadaf045
++ export CI_COMMIT_BEFORE_SHA=dd648b2e48ce6518303b0bb580b2ee32fadaf045
++ CI_COMMIT_BEFORE_SHA=dd648b2e48ce6518303b0bb580b2ee32fadaf045
++ export CI_COMMIT_REF_NAME=master
++ export CI_COMMIT_NAME=debug_trace
++ CI_JOB_NAME=debug_trace
++ export CI_JOB_STAGE=test
++ CI_JOB_STAGE=test
++ export CI_SERVER_NAME=GitLab
++ export CI_SERVER_VERSION=8.14.3-ee
++ CI_SERVER_VERSION=8.14.3-ee
++ export CI_SERVER_REVISION=82823
++ export CI_PROJECT_ID=17893
++ CI_PROJECT_ID=17893
++ export CI_PROJECT_NAME=ci-debug-trace
++ CI_PROJECT_NAME=ci-debug-trace
++ export CI_PROJECT_PATH=gitlab-examples/ci-debug-trace
++ CI_PROJECT_PATH=gitlab-examples/ci-debug-trace
++ export CI_PROJECT_NAMESPACE=gitlab-examples
++ CI_PROJECT_NAMESPACE=gitlab-examples
++ export CI_PROJECT_URL=
++ export CI_PIPELINE_ID=52666
++ export CI_RUNNER_ID=1337
++ CI_RUNNER_ID=1337
++ export
++ export 'CI_RUNNER_TAGS=shared, docker, linux, ruby, mysql, postgres, mongo'
++ CI_RUNNER_TAGS='shared, docker, linux, ruby, mysql, postgres, mongo'
++ export
++ export CI_DEBUG_TRACE=true
++ export GITLAB_USER_ID=42
++ export
++ export VERY_SECURE_VARIABLE=imaverysecurevariable
++ VERY_SECURE_VARIABLE=imaverysecurevariable
++ mkdir -p /builds/gitlab-examples/ci-debug-trace.tmp
++ echo -n '-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----


Using the CI variables in your job scripts

All variables are set as environment variables in the build environment, and they are accessible with normal methods that are used to access such variables. In most cases bash or sh is used to execute the job script.

To access the variables (predefined and user-defined) in a bash/sh environment, prefix the variable name with the dollar sign ($):

    - echo $CI_job_ID

You can also list all environment variables with the export command, but be aware that this will also expose the values of all the secret variables you set, in the job log:

    - export

Example values:

export CI_JOB_ID="50"
export CI_COMMIT_SHA="1ecfd275763eff1d6b4844ea3168962458c9f27a"
export CI_COMMIT_REF_NAME="master"
export CI_COMMIT_TAG="1.0.0"
export CI_JOB_NAME="spec:other"
export CI_JOB_STAGE="test"
export CI_JOB_MANUAL="true"
export CI_JOB_TRIGGERED="true"
export CI_JOB_TOKEN="abcde-1234ABCD5678ef"
export CI_PIPELINE_ID="1000"
export CI_PROJECT_ID="34"
export CI_PROJECT_DIR="/builds/gitlab-org/gitlab-ce"
export CI_PROJECT_NAME="gitlab-ce"
export CI_PROJECT_NAMESPACE="gitlab-org"
export CI_PROJECT_PATH="gitlab-org/gitlab-ce"
export CI_PROJECT_URL=""
export CI_REGISTRY=""
export CI_RUNNER_ID="10"
export CI_RUNNER_DESCRIPTION="my runner"
export CI_RUNNER_TAGS="docker, linux"
export CI_SERVER="yes"
export CI_SERVER_NAME="GitLab"
export CI_SERVER_REVISION="70606bf"
export CI_SERVER_VERSION="8.9.0"
export GITLAB_USER_ID="42"
export CI_REGISTRY_USER="gitlab-ci-token"
export CI_REGISTRY_PASSWORD="longalfanumstring"