How to trigger repository_dispatch event for non-default branch?

The Github Actions documentation mentions the repository_dispatch event in the External Events section. The table in this sections says that the GITHUB_REF points to the “Branch that received dispatch”. My question now is: How can I specify the branch when sending the repository_dispatch event? The API documentation does not mention any branch related input argument.



Hi @phil-opp,

Thank you for being here! I wish I had better news for you, the repository_dispatch only triggers on the master branch, and it is not possible to specify a branch. We have received several pieces of feedback about this limitation and have an internal issue tracking a feature request, to which I’ve added your feedback. 


Thanks for clarifying! Perhaps the documentation at should be updated to reflect this (the GITHUB_REF column says “Branch that received dispatch” instead of “default branch”).


Also, when the documentation links “Webhook Event Payload: repository_dispatch” through to the repositorydispatchevent type on the v3 version of the documentation, it makes it seem like I can use the payload body there, but trying to use branch gives:

  "message": "Invalid request.\n\n\"branch\" is not a permitted key.",
  "documentation_url": ""

Both are a bit confusing, would be good to update if only default branch is possible.

My problem with the repository dispatch is that it needs a token with repo permission. Isn’t it possible to severely limit the scope of the token in order to avoid consequences if it gets compromised?

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This seems like a different problem, so it’s probably better to create a new topic for it.

Since we need this a lot…

two questions:

  • any news on this since last November?
  • could I mimic the branch by passing it’s name in the client_payload and switching to that branch in my action script? (will this build be registered by github as a build on  master or on the requested branch?)
  • is there any other webhook I could (mis)-use to signal a rebuild on a certain branch?

Our situation is as follows:

  • repository “lib” contains our library and publishes a package
  • repository “app” uses the published package to make our app
  • we use synchronous branches on both repositories
  • regularly we push to both repos at the same time after bumping the version number of the package (in lib) and its use (in app).
  • because they both start building at the same time the app will not find the new version of the lib and it fails.
  • we would like the lib to re-trigger the app as soon as a new lib-package is published, which means the second build of app would find the indicated version of the lib and will succeed
  • currently we have to manually baby-sit the app-build to start after lib was published
  • if lib could directly trigger a build of app on whatever branch it is publishing we would automate this.

This is a simplified explaination, in reality we now have 4 repos that inter-depend and that number will probably grow. This will make the baby-sitting very time-consuming.


is there any update on this issue? it makes the repository_dispatch useless if only triggered on master (or default) branch


@andreagriffiths11 Any update on this?

This is available in GitLab and allows creating powerful workflows and easy iteration on them (as you don’t have to commit temp workflows to master while developing on feature branch)