Application Default Credentials errors with Workload Identity

When me and my collegues at Q42/Hue inspect our applications and there error messages they produce, we sometimes see this gem:

Could not load the default credentials. Browse to for more information.

This seems to be a nice error message, as it clearly explains what happens and where more information can be found. However, the message and the background information do not capture all peculiarities that can cause this error. Particularly, we see this error often when new Kubernetes Pods start: the Metadata API ( is not yet ready to serve the Google Cloud Service Account provided through Workload Identity.

Whenever you encounter such error, be sure to relax (you’ve done nothing wrong) and optionally add some delays or retries/back-offs to reduce the noise of these glitches.

Hopefully my post saves some fellow developers some headaches!