What are Azure management groups?

If your organization has many Azure subscriptions, you may need a way to efficiently manage access, policies, and compliance for those subscriptions. Management groups provide a governance scope above subscriptions. You organize subscriptions into management groups; the governance conditions you apply cascade by inheritance to all associated subscriptions.

Management groups give you enterprise-grade management at scale, no matter what type of subscriptions you might have. However, all subscriptions within a single management group must trust the same Microsoft Entra ID tenant.

For example, you can apply policies to a management group that limits the regions available for virtual machine (VM) creation. This policy would be applied to all nested management groups, subscriptions, and resources and allow VM creation only in authorized regions.

Hierarchy of management groups and subscriptions

You can build a flexible structure of management groups and subscriptions to organize your resources into a hierarchy for unified policy and access management. The following diagram shows an example of creating a hierarchy for governance using management groups.

Diagram of a sample management group hierarchy.

Diagram of a root management group holding both management groups and subscriptions. Some child management groups hold management groups, some hold subscriptions, and some hold both. One of the examples in the sample hierarchy is four levels of management groups, with the child level being all subscriptions.

You can create a hierarchy that applies a policy, for example, which limits VM locations to the West US region in the management group called "Corp". This policy will inherit all the Enterprise Agreement (EA) subscriptions that are descendants of that management group and will apply to all VMs under those subscriptions. This security policy cannot be altered by the resource or subscription owner, allowing for improved governance.


Management groups aren't currently supported in Cost Management features for Microsoft Customer Agreement (MCA) subscriptions.

Another scenario where you would use management groups is to provide user access to multiple subscriptions. By moving multiple subscriptions under that management group, you can create one Azure role assignment on the management group, which will inherit that access to all the subscriptions. One assignment on the management group can enable users to have access to everything they need instead of scripting Azure RBAC over different subscriptions.

Important facts about management groups

  • 10,000 management groups can be supported in a single directory.
  • A management group tree can support up to six levels of depth.
    • This limit doesn't include the Root level or the subscription level.
  • Each management group and subscription can only support one parent.
  • Each management group can have many children.
  • All subscriptions and management groups are within a single hierarchy in each directory. See Important facts about the Root management group.

Root management group for each directory

Each directory is given a single top-level management group called the root management group. The root management group is built into the hierarchy to have all management groups and subscriptions fold up to it. This root management group allows for global policies and Azure role assignments to be applied at the directory level. The Microsoft Entra ID Global Administrator needs to elevate themselves to the User Access Administrator role of this root group initially. After elevating access, the administrator can assign any Azure role to other directory users or groups to manage the hierarchy. As an administrator, you can assign your account as the owner of the root management group.

Important facts about the root management group

  • By default, the root management group's display name is Tenant root group and operates itself as a management group. The ID is the same value as the Microsoft Entra ID tenant ID.
  • To change the display name, your account must be assigned the Owner or Contributor role on the root management group. See Change the name of a management group to update the name of a management group.
  • The root management group can't be moved or deleted, unlike other management groups.
  • All subscriptions and management groups fold up into one root management group within the directory.
    • All resources in the directory fold up to the root management group for global management.
    • New subscriptions are automatically defaulted to the root management group when created.
  • All Azure customers can see the root management group, but not all customers have access to manage that root management group.
    • Everyone who has access to a subscription can see the context of where that subscription is in the hierarchy.
    • No one is given default access to the root management group. Microsoft Entra ID Global Administrators are the only users that can elevate themselves to gain access. Once they have access to the root management group, the global administrators can assign any Azure role to other users to manage it.


Any assignment of user access or policy on the root management group applies to all resources within the directory. Because of this, all customers should evaluate the need to have items defined on this scope. User access and policy assignments should be "Must Have" only at this scope.

Initial setup of management groups

When any user starts using management groups, there's an initial setup process that happens. The first step is the root management group is created in the directory. Once this group is created, all existing subscriptions that exist in the directory are made children of the root management group. The reason for this process is to make sure there's only one management group hierarchy within a directory. The single hierarchy within the directory allows administrative customers to apply global access and policies that other customers within the directory can't bypass. Anything assigned on the root will apply to the entire hierarchy, which includes all management groups, subscriptions, resource groups, and resources within that Microsoft Entra ID tenant.

Management group access

Azure management groups support Azure role-based access control (Azure RBAC) for all resource accesses and role definitions. These permissions are inherited to child resources that exist in the hierarchy. Any Azure role can be assigned to a management group that will inherit down the hierarchy to the resources. For example, the Azure role VM contributor can be assigned to a management group. This role has no action on the management group but will inherit to all VMs under that management group.

The following chart shows the list of roles and the supported actions on management groups.

Azure Role Name Create Rename Move** Delete Assign Access Assign Policy Read
Owner X X X X X X X
Contributor X X X X X
MG Contributor* X X X X X
Reader X
MG Reader* X
Resource Policy Contributor X
User Access Administrator X X

*: The Management Group Contributor and Management Group Reader roles allow users to perform those actions only on the management group scope.

**: Role assignments on the root management group aren't required to move a subscription or management group to and from it.

See Manage your resources with management groups for details on moving items within the hierarchy.

Azure custom role definition and assignment

You can define a management group as an assignable scope in an Azure custom role definition. The Azure custom role will then be available for assignment on that management group and any management group, subscription, resource group, or resource under it. The custom role will inherit down the hierarchy like any built-in role. For information about the limitations with custom roles and management groups, see Limitations.

Example definition

Defining and creating a custom role doesn't change with the inclusion of management groups. Use the full path to define the management group /providers/Microsoft.Management/managementgroups/{_groupId_}.

Use the management group's ID and not the management group's display name. This common error happens since both are custom-defined fields when creating a management group.

  "Name": "MG Test Custom Role",
  "Id": "id",
  "IsCustom": true,
  "Description": "This role provides members understand custom roles.",
  "Actions": [
  "NotActions": [],
  "DataActions": [],
  "NotDataActions": [],
  "AssignableScopes": [

Issues with breaking the role definition and assignment hierarchy path

Role definitions are assignable scope anywhere within the management group hierarchy. A role definition can be defined on a parent management group while the actual role assignment exists on the child subscription. Since there's a relationship between the two items, you'll receive an error when trying to separate the assignment from its definition.

For example, let's look at a small section of a hierarchy for a visual.

Diagram of a subset of the sample management group hierarchy.

The diagram focuses on the root management group with child Landing zones and Sandbox management groups. The Landing zones management group has two child management groups named Corp and Online while the Sandbox management group has two child subscriptions.

Let's say there's a custom role defined on the Sandbox management group. That custom role is then assigned on the two Sandbox subscriptions.

If we try to move one of those subscriptions to be a child of the Corp management group, this move would break the path from subscription role assignment to the Sandbox management group role definition. In this scenario, you'll receive an error saying the move isn't allowed since it will break this relationship.

There are a couple different options to fix this scenario:

  • Remove the role assignment from the subscription before moving the subscription to a new parent MG.
  • Add the subscription to the role definition's assignable scope.
  • Change the assignable scope within the role definition. In the above example, you can update the assignable scopes from Sandbox to the root management group so that the definition can be reached by both branches of the hierarchy.
  • Create another custom role that is defined in the other branch. This new role requires the role assignment to be changed on the subscription also.


There are limitations that exist when using custom roles on management groups.

  • You can only define one management group in the assignable scopes of a new role. This limitation is in place to reduce the number of situations where role definitions and role assignments are disconnected. This situation happens when a subscription or management group with a role assignment moves to a different parent that doesn't have the role definition.
  • Custom roles with DataActions can't be assigned at the management group scope. For more information, see Custom role limits.
  • Azure Resource Manager doesn't validate the management group's existence in the role definition's assignable scope. If there's a typo or an incorrect management group ID listed, the role definition is still created.

Moving management groups and subscriptions

To move a management group or subscription to be a child of another management group, three rules need to be evaluated as true.

If you're doing the move action, you need:

  • Management group write and role assignment write permissions on the child subscription or management group.
    • Built-in role example: Owner
  • Management group write access on the target parent management group.
    • Built-in role example: Owner, Contributor, Management Group Contributor
  • Management group write access on the existing parent management group.
    • Built-in role example: Owner, Contributor, Management Group Contributor

Exception: If the target or the existing parent management group is the root management group, the permissions requirements don't apply. Since the root management group is the default landing spot for all new management groups and subscriptions, you don't need permissions on it to move an item.

If the Owner role on the subscription is inherited from the current management group, your move targets are limited. You can only move the subscription to another management group where you have the Owner role. You can't move it to a management group where you're a Contributor because you would lose ownership of the subscription. If you're directly assigned to the Owner role for the subscription (not inherited from the management group), you can move it to any management group where you're assigned the Contributor role.


Azure Resource Manager caches management group hierarchy details for up to 30 minutes. As a result, moving a management group may not immediately be reflected in the Azure portal.

Audit management groups using activity logs

Management groups are supported within Azure Activity log. You can search all events that happen to a management group in the same central location as other Azure resources. For example, you can see all role assignments or policy assignment changes made to a particular management group.

Screenshot of Activity Logs and operations related to the selected management group.

When looking to query on management groups outside the Azure portal, the target scope for management groups looks like "/providers/Microsoft.Management/managementGroups/{management-group-id}".


Using the Azure Resource Manager REST API, you can enable diagnostic settings on a management group to send related Azure Activity log entries to a Log Analytics workspace, Azure Storage, or Azure Event Hub. For more information, see Management Group Diagnostic Settings - Create Or Update.

Next steps

To learn more about management groups, see: