Authentication in a workflow

GitHub provides a token that you can use to authenticate on behalf of GitHub Actions.

GitHub Actions is available with GitHub Free, GitHub Pro, GitHub Free for organizations, GitHub Team, GitHub Enterprise Cloud, GitHub Enterprise Server, and GitHub AE. GitHub Actions is not available for private repositories owned by accounts using legacy per-repository plans.

In this article

Note: GitHub-hosted runners are not currently supported on GitHub Enterprise Server. You can see more information about planned future support on the GitHub public roadmap.

About the GITHUB_TOKEN secret

GitHub automatically creates a GITHUB_TOKEN secret to use in your workflow. You can use the GITHUB_TOKEN to authenticate in a workflow run.

When you enable GitHub Actions, GitHub installs a GitHub App on your repository. The GITHUB_TOKEN secret is a GitHub App installation access token. You can use the installation access token to authenticate on behalf of the GitHub App installed on your repository. The token's permissions are limited to the repository that contains your workflow. For more information, see "Permissions for the GITHUB_TOKEN."

Before each job begins, GitHub fetches an installation access token for the job. The token expires when the job is finished.

The token is also available in the github.token context. For more information, see "Context and expression syntax for GitHub Actions."

Using the GITHUB_TOKEN in a workflow

You can use the GITHUB_TOKEN by using the standard syntax for referencing secrets: ${{ secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN }}. Examples of using the GITHUB_TOKEN include passing the token as an input to an action, or using it to make an authenticated GitHub API request.

When you use the repository's GITHUB_TOKEN to perform tasks on behalf of the GitHub Actions app, events triggered by the GITHUB_TOKEN will not create a new workflow run. This prevents you from accidentally creating recursive workflow runs. For example, if a workflow run pushes code using the repository's GITHUB_TOKEN, a new workflow will not run even when the repository contains a workflow configured to run when push events occur.

Example 1: passing the GITHUB_TOKEN as an input

This example workflow uses the labeler action, which requires the GITHUB_TOKEN as the value for the repo-token input parameter:

name: Pull request labeler

on: [ pull_request_target ]

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    - uses: actions/labeler@v2
        repo-token: ${{ secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN }}

Example 2: calling the REST API

You can use the GITHUB_TOKEN to make authenticated API calls. This example workflow creates an issue using the GitHub REST API:

name: Create issue on commit

on: [ push ]

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest     
    - name: Create issue using REST API
      run: |
        curl --request POST \
        --url${{ github.repository }}/issues \
        --header 'authorization: Bearer ${{ secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN }}' \
        --header 'content-type: application/json' \
        --data '{
          "title": "Automated issue for commit: ${{ github.sha }}",
          "body": "This issue was automatically created by the GitHub Action workflow **${{ github.workflow }}**. \n\n The commit hash was: _${{ github.sha }}_."
          }' \

Permissions for the GITHUB_TOKEN

For information about the API endpoints GitHub Apps can access with each permission, see "GitHub App Permissions."

ScopeAccess typeAccess by forked repos
pull requestsread/writeread
repository projectsread/writeread

If you need a token that requires permissions that aren't available in the GITHUB_TOKEN, you can create a personal access token and set it as a secret in your repository:

  1. Use or create a token with the appropriate permissions for that repository. For more information, see "Creating a personal access token."
  2. Add the token as a secret in your workflow's repository, and refer to it using the ${{ secrets.SECRET_NAME }} syntax. For more information, see "Creating and using encrypted secrets."

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