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 creating new accounts, or to users with existing accounts. To free up licenses that can be assigned to other users, you can also unassign licenses that users no longer need or delete user accounts 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 Lync 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 valid and available

To find out how many licenses are valid and available for your subscription:

  1. Sign in to Office 365 with your work or school account.

  2. Go to the Office 365 admin center.

  3. Select Billing > Licenses.

  4. Check the Valid, Expired, and Assigned columns for your subscription. To figure out how many valid licenses are still available to assign to users, subtract the number of Assigned licenses from the number of Valid licenses.

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.

Important   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 example, if you remove a license for Exchange Online from a user:

  • The user’s mailbox and all messages in it are held for the 30 day grace period. The mailbox can be recovered within 30 days by reassigning a license to it. After 30 days, the mailbox and its contents are permanently deleted.

  • All email aliases that are associated with the user account are deleted. If you need someone in your company to receive email at those aliases, assign them to another user.

  • The user's Lync Online Contacts list may be deleted. If you restore the Exchange Online license within 30 days, the Contacts list will be restored as well. For more information, see Removing a user’s license for Exchange Online may also remove their Lync Online Contacts list.

To assign or unassign a license for one user
  1. Sign in to Office 365 with your work or school account.

  2. Go to the Office 365 admin center.

  3. Select Users > Active Users.

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

  5. Click Edit Edit

    Edit a user account

  6. Select Licenses.

    Click Licenses

  7. Under Assign licenses, do one of the following:

    • To assign a license to the selected user, select the box for the license you want to assign.

    • To unassign a license from the user, unselect the box for the license you want to remove.

  8. Click Save.

  9. 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.

Important   When a user’s license is unassigned, 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 example, if you unassign a license for Exchange Online from a user:

  • The user’s mailbox and all messages in it are held for the 30 day grace period. The mailbox can be recovered within 30 days by reassigning a license to it. After 30 days, the mailbox and its contents are permanently deleted.

  • All email aliases that are associated with the user account are deleted. If you need someone in your company to receive email at those aliases, assign them to another user.

  • The user's Lync Online Contacts list may be deleted. If you restore the Exchange Online license within 30 days, the Contacts list will be restored as well. For more information, see Removing a user’s license for Exchange Online may also remove their Lync Online Contacts list.

To assign or unassign licenses for several people
  1. Sign in to Office 365 with your work or school account.

  2. Go to the Office 365 admin center.

  3. Select Users > Active Users.

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

  5. Select Edit Edit.

  6. On the Details page, click Next.

  7. On the Settings page, click 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 boxes for the licenses you want to assign.

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

  9. Select 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.

Important   When you delete a user account, it becomes inactive. During this inactive period, you have up to 30 days to fully restore the account. After 30 days, all data for that user is permanently deleted—except documents saved on SharePoint Online. 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.

To delete the account for one or more users
  1. Sign in to Office 365 with your work or school account.

  2. Go to the Office 365 admin center.

  3. Select Users > Active Users (or Users & groups > Add users, reset passwords, and more).

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

    Click Delete to delete the user account

  5. In the confirmation box, click Yes.

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.

  1. Sign in to Office 365 with your work or school account.

  2. Go to the Office 365 admin center.

  3. Select Users > Active Users.

  4. In the Select a view list, select the down arrow and in the list of views select Unlicensed users.

    View a list of unlicensed users

    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?

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

Applies To: Outlook Web App, Office 365 Admin, Outlook Web App for Office 365



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