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Automating Terramate in GitHub Actions

GitHub Actions add continuous integration to GitHub repositories to automate your software builds, tests, and deployments. Automating Terraform with CI/CD enforces configuration best practices, promotes collaboration, and automates the Terraform workflow.

Terramate integrates seamlessly with GitHub Actions to automate and orchestrate IaC tools such as Terraform and OpenTofu.


You can find a reference architecture to get started with Terramate, Terraform, AWS, and GitHub Actions in no time at terramate-quickstart-aws.

Terramate Blueprints

This page explains some details about the workflows, required permissions, and authentication flows that the following workflows have in common.

To jump directly into the Blueprints follow the links below:

Please read the following sections to understand the details all those workflows have in common.

Terraform Setup Action


Ensure that you are not using the terraform wrapper when using the Terraform Setup GitHub Action provided by HashiCorp!

- uses: hashicorp/setup-terraform@v3
    terraform_wrapper: false

When using the hashicorp/setup-terraform GitHub Action to install terraform, you need to disable the included wrapper.

The terraform wrapper script takes care of setting up outputs for follow-up GitHub Actions steps. The terramate-io/terramate-action( also supports a wrapper that takes care of sharing the outputs and exit code for follow-up actions and is the recommended way of using it.

As of version 3 - the latest at the point of writing this document - the wrapper got fixed to use the new GitHub APIs but it has a serious bug that hides the detailed exit code that is required to synchronize the drift status to Terramate Cloud or other tools.

In addition, the outputs of the terraform wrapper will conflict for each execution of terraform when executing terraform in multiple stacks via terramate run or terramate script run.

Workflow Permissions

To be able to use password-less authentication to cloud providers as well as Terramate Cloud specific permissions are needed on the GitHub Token that is used to run the workflow. In addition, when synchronizing to Terramate Cloud, terramate also synchronizes details about the GitHub environment. For this process, Terramate needs additional permissions to read pull-request details and checks.

  • id-token: write Allow to create an OIDC TOKEN for exchange with Cloud Credentials and to authenticate to Terramate Cloud
  • contents: read Allow to check the code from the repository
  • pull-requests: read Allow to read pull request details
  • checks: read Allow to read workflow details

Terramate Cloud synchronization enables you to have visibility of the executed deployment and status and allows you to get notified via Slack when the deployments fails or a drift is detected in the health check step. For this, the GITHUB_TOKEN environment variables need to be exposed to the commands that synchronize to Terramate Cloud.

Merge and Apply Strategy

The GitHub Actions Workflow Blueprints follow the merge+apply strategy, where deployments happen when a pull request is merged to the main branch.

Code Checkout

For the Change Detection to work, the git history is needed to be able to compare the current commit with previous commits. this is achieved by adding the fetch-depth: 0 option to the actions/checkout@v4 GitHub Action.

Cloud Authentication

Search for CHANGEME to adjust needed credentials details for AWS and Google Cloud examples. The workflows use OpenID Connect (OIDC) which is a password-less workflow and the recommended way to authenticate to AWS and Google Cloud. The IAM Role on AWS or the Service Account on Google Cloud needs to be configured for this authentication to succeed.