Use branch permissions

Branch permissions help enforce specific workflows and prevent errors like a new workspace member deleting the main branch.

With branch permissions you can:

  • Closely control which users or groups can write or merge to any branch.

  • Create permissions for a specific branch type, or pattern. For example: PROJECT-* to limit access to all branches with names like PROJECT-1234.

If you want even tighter control over your workspace's workflow, check out merge checks. Merge checks allow you to recommend or require specific conditions on merges for individual branches or branch patterns. Learn more about merge checks.

Merge checks are a Premium feature for Bitbucket Cloud. Learn more about Bitbucket Premium.

Example permissions set up

So, let's say Alana (Principal Engineer), Harvey (QA lead), and another 5 engineers are working on a Teams in Space project. You want everyone to be able to do work effectively so everyone has write access to the repository. Now you need to manage access to the repositories main and develop branches. You might want to assign permissions like this: 

  • Allow only Alana to write directly to main.

  • Allow only Alana and Harvey to merge into main.

  • Allow everyone to merge to develop but only through a pull request.

Below are the steps describing how to set up this example

Start by navigating to the repository you want to limit permissions for, click Repository settings, then click Branch permissions.

Add permissions to Main branch:

  1. Click Add a branch permission.

  2. Enter the following into each field, then click Save:

    1. By name or pattern: main

    2. Write access: Alana Persona

    3. Merge via pull request: Harvey Persona

Now add permissions for the Develop branch:

  1. Click Add a branch permission.

  2. Enter the following into each field, then click Save.

    1. By name or pattern: Develop

    2. Write access: Alana Persona and Harvey Persona (Alana and Harvey also get merge via pull request permissions).

    3. Merge via pull request: Developers

The result will look something like this:

You can also see that no one can either delete or rewrite history on either branch. A user needs to have write or admin permissions to delete a repository or rewrite repository history.

Branch types

If you've got the branching model enabled, you can configure permissions for all branches of a specific type. This might be useful if you want to restrict merge access on all release branches, for example.

Branch patterns

If you need to get more granular than type, you can also set permissions for a specific pattern of branch name like PROJECT- by adding a wild card character (*) to either end of the string. For example:

PROJECT-* Matches branch named PROJECT-*, even in a name space, so restrictions would apply to the following branches:

  • PROJECT-1234

  • PROJECT-new

  • PROJECT-1.1

Branch permissions overlap

It's possible to accidentally overlap your branch permissions. For example, if you created a branch permission specifically for the branch name main but also created a permission using the branch pattern *, then both permissions (main & *) would be applied to the main branch.

This table shows examples of results of overlapping permission definitions:

Wildcard (*) branch patterns

Specific ("main") branch name

What's enforced for branches included in both restrictions

User or group restrictions (write or merge access)

No users or groups listed


Only Alana has access



Only Alana has access



Both Alana and Harvey have access


No users or groups

Only Alana has access



Only Alana has access

Additional Help