Cloning of a private repo to organization's free account


I’m trying to fork a private repository (I’m authorized to access it) to our organization’s repository, as we did it previously over two years. However, this time I’m getting the error “You can’t fork a private repository into an organization on a free plan. Sorry about that!”

As I said, our organization has a plenty of private repos cloned from the same source, in exactly the same way.

Has something changed in the GitHub policy?

I see from this post that such cloning should be possible.

How would I clone the private repo?


Thanks for being here!

Private forks inherit the permissions structure of the upstream or parent repository. This allows owners to maintain control over their code. But, the fork must respect the destination plan. Meaning if a private repo is to be forked, the plan must allow for private repos. I hope this helps!

Hi Andrea, 

I am in the same situation – Did the GitHub free plan change for organizations? I was able to fork on my organisation’s free account last fall. Now, it tells me “You can’t fork a private repository into an organization on a free plan. Sorry about that!”. 

What changed?

Hey @tcowley,

Unfortunately this is the correct answer, not an error. The free organization plan (called GitHub Team for Open Source) includes only public repositories. Private repos are available to organizations on either a Team or Enterprise plan.

Full plan and pricing details are available here:

Let me know if there are any other questions I can help answer.

Hi Andrea, 

This is what I needed to know, I’ll plan accordingly.



Hi Andrea,

I’m facing this issue on our GitHub Enterprise instance. If I try to fork a private repo into my own account in GitHub Enterprise, I can do that just fine. If I want to fork a private repo between organizations within the same GitHub Enterprise instance, I get that error. What could be the reason?

Thank you,


Given the new pricing as of today (Apr 14, 2020) - I’m hoping this should now be possible since Free organizations have private repos. But I’m still getting this message “You can’t fork a private repository into an organization on a free plan. Sorry about that!”

Is this a bug?


Thanks for reaching out @markwai. We’re currently investigating and I’ll post an update as soon as we have more information.

I’ve gotten an update from the product team. Thanks for your patience.

Forking a private repository to an organization on the Free plan is intentionally not supported. We’re working on making the error message and documentation around this more clear for the future. Our apologies that this was confusing.

I hope that helps!

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So was this communication intentionally misleading:

“We introduced a few changes to make all of the core GitHub features free for everyone. Private repositories with unlimited collaborators are now available for all GitHub accounts, and we’re reducing prices for some of our paid plans.
The details:
We introduced a new GitHub Free plan for teams with unlimited collaborators in private repositories, 2,000 GitHub Actions minutes/month, and GitHub Community Support.
You now have unlimited collaborators in private repositories as part of your GitHub Free plan.”

Says nothing about any forking limitations.

You are correct that the text you quoted doesn’t include every single detail and nuance of how the pricing and plans work. For more details, we have our pricing page. No, it wasn’t intended to be misleading and we apologize that it ended up being that way. We’re working to make more clarifications to our documentation so that things will be more clear.

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@lee-dohm, I am looking at your pricing page and not seeing anything about forks. Can you point it out to me? We just started moving private repos to an organization on a free plan based on the information on your pricing page. If you didn’t specifically list this limitation on forks there, this is false advertising.

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@tv4fun I’m not entirely certain what it is that you’re not able to do? If you’re moving private repos to an organization, you can also do that by transferring the repository instead of forking it.

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Yes I can, but we lose the PR and issue history, as well as a lot of tool setup when we do that. Why can’t we just fork them?

@tv4fun Been searching the pricing page can’t seem to find anything. Could you please provide a link with the fork limitations between the plans?

If we have two organizations that we want to create forks between, would we need to have paid plans for both organizations?

This is confusing :confused:

I just created a free organization and moved my private repos there, I could even clone them locally. I keep getting “you have no privileges” or “the repo does not exist”

What is the idea of having unlimited free private repos that I can neither clone nor push?

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Somewhat new here. I just wanted clarify what @otakupahp is saying. We are not able to push or pull in a private repo within the free organization, correct?

Finally got it to work once I used the Personal Access Token instead of the password. See here: Clone private repo

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I’m having this issue as well and the work ‘fork’ does not even appear on the linked pricing page…