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Assign or unassign licenses for Office 365 for business

In Office 365 for business, users need licenses to use Outlook, SharePoint Online, Lync Online, and other services. As a global or user management admin, you can easily 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 unassign licenses that users no longer need when people leave the organization. To reduce the number of user licenses for your Office 365 subscription, see Remove licenses from your Office 365 for business subscription.

What do you want to do?

Verify how many Office 365 licenses are currently assigned and unassigned. Assign an Office 365 license to one user. Assign Office 365 licenses to multiple users at a time. Free an Office 365 license by unassigning one from a user who doesn't need it. See a list of unlicensed users.

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.

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

  • For Exchange Online, a mailbox is created for the user.

  • For SharePoint Online, edit permissions to the default SharePoint Online team site are assigned to the user.

  • For Skype for Business Online, the user will have access to the features associated with the license.

  • For Office 365 ProPlus, the user will be able to download Microsoft Office on up to 5 Macs or PCs.

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

Figure out how many licenses are available

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

Assign or unassign a license for one user

If a user’s job responsibilities change, a global admin or user management admin can unassign the licenses that the user no longer needs. In addition, if you have more users assigned to a service than you have available licenses, 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. For information about how to block a user’s access to Office 365 data after their license has been removed and how to get access to the data afterwards, see How to block employee access to Office 365 data. If you remove a user’s Office license and they still have Office installed, they’ll see Unlicensed Product notifications when they use Office.

  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. Do one of the following:

    • In the Office 365 admin center, choose Users > Active Users.

    • Under users & groups, choose Add users, reset passwords, and more (for Office 365 small and midsized business subscriptions that were purchased through a partner).

  4. Check the box for the name of the user who you want to add or remove a license for.

  5. On the right, under Assigned license, choose Edit.

    Screen shot of the Assigned license section of the user details pane with the Edit link highlighted.
  6. In the Assign licenses pane, do one of the following:

    • To assign a license to the selected user, select the box for the license you want to assign. By default, all services associated with that license are automatically assigned to the user.

      Tip: To limit which services are available to the user, select the down-arrow next to the name of the license, and clear the check boxes for the services that you want to remove for that user.

      Screen shot of the Assign License menu with the service list collapsed and the down arrow highlighted.

      For example, if you want the user to have access to all available services except Skype for Business Online, you can clear the check box for the Skype for Business Online service.

      Screen shot of the Assign License menu with the service list expanded, and all but one service selected.
    • To unassign a license from the user, clear the check box for the license you want to remove.

      Screen shot of the Assign License menu with no subscription selected.
  7. At the top right, choose Save.

  8. If you have removed a license from a user and want to assign it to another user, repeat this procedure.

Assign or unassign licenses for several users at once

In addition to assigning or unassigning licenses for single users, you can also do this in bulk.

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. For information about how to block a user’s access to Office 365 data after their license has been removed and how to get access to the data afterwards, see How to block employee access to Office 365 data. If you remove a user’s Office license and they still have Office installed, they’ll see Unlicensed Product notifications when they use Office.

  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. Do one of the following:

    • In the Office 365 admin center, choose Users > Active Users.

    • Under users & groups, choose Add users, reset passwords, and more (for Office 365 small and midsized business subscriptions that were purchased through a partner).

  4. Select the boxes for the names of the users who you want to assign or unassign licenses for.

  5. On the right, choose Edit.

    Screen shot of the menu that is displayed when several users are selected, with the Edit button highlighted.
  6. On the details page, choose Next.

  7. On the settings page, choose Next.

  8. On the assign licenses page, do one of the following:

    • To assign licenses to the selected users, select Add to existing license assignments, and then select the check boxes for the licenses that you want to assign.

    • To unassign licenses from the selected users, select Replace existing license assignments, and clear the check boxes for the licenses that you want to unassign.

    Screen shot of the assign licenses page that is displayed when you add or replace licenses for several users at the same time.
  9. Choose Submit > Finish.

Delete a user account to free a license

If a user no longer needs licenses, 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. For information about how to block a user’s access to Office 365 data after their license has been removed and how to get access to the data afterwards, see How to block employee access to Office 365 data.

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.

  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. Do one of the following:

    • In the Office 365 admin center, choose Users > Active Users.

    • Under users & groups, choose Add users, reset passwords, and more (for Office 365 small and midsized business subscriptions that were purchased through a partner).

  4. Select the name of the user or multiple users that you want to delete, and then choose Delete.

    Screen shot of the menu that is displayed when several users are selected, with the Delete button highlighted.
  5. In the confirmation box, choose Delete.

    Screen shot of the Delete user menu that is displayed when several users are selected.

Note: For information on restoring users, see Delete or restore users (for Office 365 Enterprise, Office 365 Business Essentials, or Office 365 Business Premium).

View a list of unlicensed users

Complete these steps to see a list of users who don’t have a license assigned to them.

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 Office 365 admin center, choose Users > Active Users.

    Screen shot of the Users menu with Active Users highlighted.
  4. In the Select a view list, choose the down arrow and in the list of views choose Unlicensed users.

    Screen shot of the Active Users page with the View menu expanded and the Unlicensed users option highlighted.

    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.

Understanding licenses for non-user mailboxes

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:

Find out who can assign licenses

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 Assigning 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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Still need help?

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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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