Assign or remove licenses for Office 365 for business

Note: This article describes how to manage user licenses for Office 365 for business subscriptions. If you want to remove a subscription, see Cancel my office 365 subscription.

In Office 365 for business, users need licenses to use services such as Outlook, SharePoint Online, Lync Online, and other services. As a global or user management admin, you can assign licenses to new users when you create new accounts, or to users with existing accounts. To free up licenses that you can assign to other users, you can also remove licenses that users no longer need when people leave the organization. To reduce the number of user licenses that you're paying for, see Remove licenses from your Office 365 for business subscription.

Note: To do the procedures shown in this article, you need to be either a global admin or a User management admin.

Before you begin

Watch the video to learn how many licenses are available to assign to users.

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View user licenses for Office 365 for business

Different types of admins can work with licenses in different ways, depending on their roles. The following table lists the most common options. For a complete list of admin roles and privileges, see About admin roles.

Admin role

Assign a license

Remove a license

Purchase more licenses

Delete a user

Global admin

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Billing admin

No

No

Yes

No

User management admin

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Service admin

No

No

No

No

Password admin

No

No

No

No

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This is what automatically happens when you assign a license to a user:

If the subscription has this service

This automatically happens

Exchange Online

A mailbox is created for the user.

SharePoint Online

Edit permissions to the default SharePoint Online team site are assigned to the user.

Skype for Business Online

The user will have access to the features associated with the license.

Office 365 ProPlus

The user will be able to download Microsoft Office on up to 5 Macs or PCs.

Choose how you want to assign a license

Use these steps to add a license to an existing user account. To learn how to add a user account and assign a license at the same time, see Add users individually to Office 365 - Admin Help.

  1. Sign in to Office 365 with your work or school account as a global admin. Learn how to sign in.

  2. Select the app launcher icon Office 365 app launcher icon in the upper-left and choose Admin.

  3. In the admin center, choose Users > Active users.

    Screen shot of the Users menu in the new Office 365 Admin Center, with Active users selected.

  4. Select the box next to the name of the user who you want to assign a license to.

  5. On the right, in the Product licenses row, choose Edit.

    Edit a user's licensing assignment.
  6. In the Product licenses pane, switch the toggle to the On position for the license you want to assign to this user. By default, all services associated with that license are automatically assigned to the user.

    Tip: To limit which services are available to the user, switch the toggles to the Off position for the services that you want to remove for that user. For example, if you want the user to have access to all available services except Skype for Business Online, you can switch the toggle for the Skype for Business Online service to the Off position.

    Setting license assignments for a user.
  7. At the bottom of the Product licenses pane, choose Assign > Close.

  1. Sign in to Office 365 with your work or school account as a global admin. Learn how to sign in.

  2. Select the app launcher icon Office 365 app launcher icon in the upper-left and choose Admin.

  3. In the admin center, choose Users > Active users.

    Screen shot of the Users menu in the new Office 365 Admin Center, with Active users selected.

  4. Select the boxes next to the names of the users who you want to assign additional licenses to.

  5. In the Bulk actions pane, choose Edit product licenses.

    Bulk edit license assignments.
  6. In the Assign products pane, select Add to existing product license assignments > Next.

  7. Switch the toggle to the On position for the additional products you want the selected users to have. By default, all services associated with that license are automatically assigned to the user.

    Tip: To limit which services are available to the user, switch to toggles to the Off position for the services that you want to remove for that user. For example, if you want the user to have access to all available services except Skype for Business Online, you can switch the toggle for the Skype for Business Online service to the Off position.

    Add additional licenses to multiple users at once.
  8. At the bottom of the Add to existing products pane, select Add > Close.

Choose how you want to remove a license

If a user’s job responsibilities change, a global admin or user management admin can remove the licenses that the user no longer needs. In addition, you can remove licenses from users who no longer use them.

Caution: When a user’s license is removed, all data that is associated with that user account is held for 30 days. After the 30 day grace period, the data is deleted and can’t be recovered, except for documents that are saved on SharePoint Online and the data in the user's mailbox. The user mailbox will remain in Exchange Online until it is deleted, permanently removed or purged by the Office 365 admin. You can reassign a license to the user and make the mailbox active again.

Notes: 

How to remove a license from one user
  1. Sign in to Office 365 with your work or school account as a global admin. Learn how to sign in.

  2. Select the app launcher icon Office 365 app launcher icon in the upper-left and choose Admin.

  3. In the admin center, choose Users > Active users.

    Screen shot of the Users menu in the new Office 365 Admin Center, with Active users selected.

  4. Select the box for the name of the user who you want to remove a license from.

  5. On the right, in the Product licenses row, choose Edit.

    Edit a user's licensing assignment.
  6. In the Product licenses pane, switch the toggle to the Off position for the license you want to remove from the user.

    Remove a user license for an individual user.
  7. At the bottom of the Product licenses pane, choose Assign > Close.

If you removed a license from a user and want to assign it to another user, see the Add a license to one user procedure earlier in this article.

Caution: When a user’s license is removed, all data that is associated with that user account is held for 30 days. After the 30 day grace period, the data is deleted and can’t be recovered, except for documents that are saved on SharePoint Online and the data in the user's mailbox. The user mailbox will remain in Exchange Online until it is deleted, permanently removed or purged by the Office 365 admin. You can reassign a license to the user and make the mailbox active again.

Notes: 

How to remove all licenses from multiple users at once
  1. Sign in to Office 365 with your work or school account as a global admin. Learn how to sign in.

  2. Select the app launcher icon Office 365 app launcher icon in the upper-left and choose Admin.

  3. In the admin center, choose Users > Active users.

    Screen shot of the Users menu in the new Office 365 Admin Center, with Active users selected.

  4. Select the boxes next to the names of the users who you want to remove all licenses from.

  5. Choose More > Edit product licenses.

    Remove all user licenses using the Office 365 Admin Center
  6. In the Assign products pane, select Replace existing product license assignments > Next.

  7. At the bottom of the Replace existing products pane, select the Remove all product licenses from the selected users... check box and then select Replace > Close.

    Select the check-box to remove all licenses from the selected users accounts.

Choose how you want to Free a license

You can delete user accounts that have been assigned a license in order to make their license available to other user users.

If a user no longer needs a license, like when an employee leaves an organization, you can delete that user’s account. When you do this, any licenses that were assigned to that person become available to assign to another user.

Caution: When a user’s license is removed, all data that is associated with that user account is held for 30 days. After the 30 day grace period, the data is deleted and can’t be recovered, except for documents that are saved on SharePoint Online and the data in the user's mailbox. The user mailbox will remain in Exchange Online until it is deleted, permanently removed or purged by the Office 365 admin. You can reassign a license to the user and make the mailbox active again.

Notes: 

Typically, you would delete users only if you are certain that they won’t need this data in the future. For more information, see How to troubleshoot deleted user accounts in Office 365.

How to delete one user account to free licenses
  1. Sign in to Office 365 with your work or school account as a global admin. Learn how to sign in.

  2. Select the app launcher icon Office 365 app launcher icon in the upper-left and choose Admin.

  3. In the admin center, choose Users > Active users.

    Screen shot of the Users menu in the new Office 365 Admin Center, with Active users selected.

  4. Select the box next to the user account you want to delete and then choose More > Delete a user.

    Delete a user from the Office 365 Admin Center.
  5. On the Delete user page, choose Delete >Close .

Note: For information on restoring users, see Restore a user.

If you have users who no longer need a license, like when employees leave an organization, you can delete those user accounts. When you do this, any licenses that were assigned to them become available to assign to other users.

Caution: When a user’s license is removed, all data that is associated with that user account is held for 30 days. After the 30 day grace period, the data is deleted and can’t be recovered, except for documents that are saved on SharePoint Online and the data in the user's mailbox. The user mailbox will remain in Exchange Online until it is deleted, permanently removed or purged by the Office 365 admin. You can reassign a license to the user and make the mailbox active again.

Notes: 

How to delete multiple user accounts to free licenses
  1. Sign in to Office 365 with your work or school account as a global admin. Learn how to sign in.

  2. Select the app launcher icon Office 365 app launcher icon in the upper-left and choose Admin.

  3. In the admin center, choose Users > Active users.

    Screen shot of the Users menu in the new Office 365 Admin Center, with Active users selected.

  4. Select the boxes next to the user accounts that you want to delete. and then choose More > Delete users.

    Delete multiple user accounts from the Office 365 Admin Center.
  5. On the Delete user page, choose Delete >Close .

Note: For information on restoring users, see Restore a user.

Other license management tasks

Note: Viewing a list of unlicensed users is not supported by Office 365 Small Business Premium subscriptions.

  1. Sign in to Office 365 with your work or school account as a global admin. Learn how to sign in.

  2. Select the app launcher icon Office 365 app launcher icon in the upper-left and choose Admin.

  3. In the admin center, choose Users > Active users.

    Screen shot of the Users menu in the new Office 365 Admin Center, with Active users selected.

  4. In the Filters list (or Select a view list in the old Admin Center), choose the down arrow and in the list of choose Unlicensed users.

    Your screen will look like one of the following screenshots.

    Select unlicensed users from the Filters list.

    From the Select a view list, select the unlicenced users view.

    Any user accounts that don’t have a license assigned to them are displayed in the list.

    Note: From this list, you can add licenses to the users one at a time or in bulk by using the instructions in this article.

  1. Sign in to Office 365 with your work or school account as a global admin. Learn how to sign in.

  2. Select the app launcher icon Office 365 app launcher icon in the upper-left and choose Admin.

  3. In the admin center, choose Users > Active users.

    Screen shot of the Users menu in the new Office 365 Admin Center, with Active users selected.

  4. Select the boxes next to the names of the users who you want to replace existing licenses for.

  5. In the Bulk actions pane, choose Edit product licenses.

    Bulk edit license assignments.
  6. In the Assign products pane, select Replace existing product license assignments > Next.

  7. Switch the toggle to the On position for the products you want to assign to these users.

    Tips: 

    • To limit which services are available to the user, switch to toggles to the Off position for the services that you want to remove for that user. For example, if you want the user to have access to all available services except Skype for Business Online, you can switch the toggle for the Skype for Business Online service to the Off position.

    • Any previous license assignments for the selected users will be removed.

  8. At the bottom of the Replace existing products pane, select Replace > Close.

You don’t need to assign licenses to resource mailboxes, room mailboxes, and shared mailboxes, except when they are over their storage quota of 50 gigabytes (GB).

For more about non-user mailboxes, see the following articles:

Still need help?

Get help from the Office 365 community forums Admins: Sign in and create a service request Admins: Call Support

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See Also

Buy licenses for Office 365 business subscriptions

Remove licenses from Office 365 business

Cancel my office 365 subscription

Resolve license conflicts

Manage Yammer user licenses in Office 365

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