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We have recently started a new project and wanted to give it a specific key, lets say ABC. When we tried to do this we got an error saying that key is used by project "A Bee Circus". This project is old and "abandoned" since a while back, so we changed that key to say "COB", something completely different. However When trying to give the key to our new project we still get the error that is't being used by "A Bee Circus", even after waiting a few days for the change to take affect. Is there a way to solve this or are all old keys eternally blocked?
Jira keeps a record of old projects so it can tie up redirects (when an issue is moved out of a project and then the project is deleted later). That data blocks the reuse of a project key
There's no way to fix that on Cloud, as you need database access to remove the project key and destroy all the redirect (old issue key -> moved issue key). There is an open request to get this fixed on Cloud, not sure how it is progressing.
As stated in the official docs
You won't be able to create a new project with the old project key. However, you can change the renamed project back to the old project key. If you delete the project, all associated keys will be freed and you'll be able to re-use them.
So until the old project is deleted, all of it's previous project keys will redirect you to the new project key for the same project.
Hope this helps!
As Nic said in the comment below, currently this solution isn't working on cloud but there's an open request with Atlassian to fix it.
I'm afraid it is not. Even after emptying the trash, Jira keeps a record of the project key you used and will stop you using it again. (unless the project never had any issues in it)
I re-tested it just before posting that last comment, and Jira blocked us from using the old project key.
So, no, this remains an incorrect answer.
You don't need to wait for the re-indexing, but even if you did, I left it plenty of time.
Your edit has made a nonsense of the conversation.
Please read the accepted answers above. They won't help you, but they do explain it.
This also worked for me. Project had to be 'Permanently deleted' from the trash.
This was for a 'team managed' project on Jira Cloud.
It won't. Atlassian don't look to Community for helping rank their backlogs. They do look at votes on issues in their Jira (and they do take items from Community into it)