Switch from Office 365 Enterprise E4 to E3

This article steps you through the process of switching from an Office 365 Enterprise E4 to an Office 365 Enterprise E3 subscription. For information about all of the options available to you when switching from Office 365 Enterprise E4, see Options for Office 365 Enterprise E4 customers.

Important: This article applies to Office 365 Enterprise E4 subscriptions that were purchased directly from Microsoft via credit card or invoice only. If your subscription was purchased another way, such as through a partner or through the Volume Licensing Service Center, contact your Microsoft account representative or partner to help you switch plans.

Choose how to switch plans

The easiest way to switch plans is to use the Switch plans button in the Microsoft 365 admin center. However, using the Switch plans button isn’t supported in all situations. If your scenario isn't supported, you might be able to switch plans manually.

What is the Switch plans button?

The Switch plans button does the following:

  • Leads you through the process of buying a new plan.

  • Reassigns all user licenses from your old plan to the new plan.

  • Cancels your old plan.

What does it mean to switch plans manually?

Switching plans manually means completing the following separate procedures instead of using the Switch plans button.

  • Buy licenses for the new subscription.

  • Verify the new subscription is ready to use.

  • Reassign user licenses

  • Remove unneeded licenses from the subscription you’re switching from.

  • Cancel the original subscription.

Find out if you can use the Switch plans button to switch to E3

  1. In the Admin center, go to the Subscriptions page, or choose Billing > Subscriptions.

    If you're using Office 365 Germany, go to this Subscriptions page.

    If you're using Office 365 operated by 21Vianet, go to this Subscriptions page.

  2. On the Subscriptions page, select your Office 365 Enterprise E4 subscription.

  3. If you see the Switch plans button, it means you can switch plans automatically.

  4. If you see the “No switch plans” or “Ineligible to switch plans” message, you can position your mouse over the info icon and a message describing the reason why you can't switch plans is displayed.

There are several reasons why the Switch plans button might be unavailable. For example, if 3,000 or more licenses have been purchased for the subscription. Most of the issues are temporary ones, such as service health issues that you can resolve. See the Why can't I switch plans? article for more information. Of course, you can always contact Office 365 for business support for assistance or switch plans manually.

What do you want to do?

Switch to Office 365 Enterprise E3 using the Switch plans button

Using the Switch plans button to switch between Office 365 subscriptions is done in two phases which have to be done in the order shown:

  1. Prepare to switch Office 365 plans

  2. Switch Office 365 plans using the Switch plans button

Prepare to switch Office 365 plans

Here are some things that are important to know before you begin.

Plan for administrative downtime

Admins won’t be able to use the Microsoft 365 admin center while the plan is being switched. Depending on the number of users you have, this can take from minutes to hours. So it's a good idea to plan to do this when you don’t need to make updates using the Microsoft 365 admin center.

Users won't experience any interruption of service while the plans are being switched. They will continue to have full access to the E4 subscription until the switch plans process is finished, at which time they’ll have access to E3.

Credit checks when switching Office 365 plans

If you're paying for your new plan by invoice or your purchase is above a certain cost, a credit check might be required. If a credit check needs to be done, switching plans can take up to two business days. Admins will not have access to the Microsoft 365 admin center until the credit check is complete. However, users will have full access to the plan that you are switching from.

Users, licenses, billing, and custom domains

To understand how users and licenses are handled during the switch, how switching plans affects your billing, and how to handle custom domains, see What does switching Office 365 plans do to my service and billing?.

Change the number of user licenses

You cannot remove licenses as part of switching plans. However, you can reduce the number of licenses before or after you switch plans. See Remove licenses from your Office 365 for business subscription to learn how.

Use the Switch plans button

  1. In the Admin center, go to the Subscriptions page, or choose Billing > Subscriptions.

    If you're using Office 365 Germany, go to this Subscriptions page.

    If you're using Office 365 operated by 21Vianet, go to this Subscriptions page.

  2. On the Subscriptions page, select your Office 365 Enterprise E4 subscription, and then choose Switch plans.

  3. On the Purchase services page, mouse over or tap the subscription you want to switch to and then click Buy now.

  4. On the How does this look page, verify that everything is correct.

    Notes: 

    • Any add-on subscriptions associated with your E4 subscription, will also be listed. However, if you have any the add-on subscriptions that are included in the subscription you chose, we’ll remove them.

    • If you chose to switch to E3 with either Phone System in Office 365 or Skype for Business Plus CAL, you’ll see one of those add-on subscriptions listed on the page.

  5. If you purchased Office 365 Enterprise E3 for Phone System in Office 365 and you haven’t previously purchased a voice calling plan, you can optionally select the Add voice calling plans box and choose the number of user licenses you want for the calling plan.

  6. After you’ve reviewed your order, choose Next.

  7. If the legal agreement page appears, complete the items on the page and then select Next.

  8. On the how do you want to pay? page, select the payment frequency and payment method you want to use.

    Note: The Invoice payment option is only available for orders that are above a certain cost amount. Selecting the invoice payment option can delay the switching plans process by up to two business days if a credit check is required.

  9. When you're all done, at the bottom of the page, select Place order.

    When the status page appears, the switch plans process is underway and you’ll see this page until your plan has been switched. You can select the down-arrow next to Setting Up if you want to see the progress of the services being set up.

    Select the down-arrow next to Setting Up to show the individual services being provisioned.

    Check marks appear next to each of the four phases and also next to each of the services as they are completed.

    View the check marks next to each phase and service to see when they have been provisioned.

    Note: Switching plans typically takes less than ten minutes if there are no errors or issues.

    Tip: If the switch plans process gets stuck on reassigning user licenses for more than one hour, see Problems in reassigning licenses while you switch plans in Office 365 for a resolution to the issue. If that doesn’t solve the problem, contact support.

  10. When the switch plans process completes, select You're ready to go at the bottom of the page to return to the main page.

    Note: After switching plans, the main page may initially appear blank except for the Menu button. You can select the apps launcher icon and then select the Admin tile to return to the Microsoft 365 admin center.

    Office 365 start menu

    The first time you return to the Microsoft 365 admin center after switching plans, you might see a message that says switching plans is complete.

  11. If you switched to Office 365 Enterprise E3 + Phone System in Office 365, you’ll need to assign the Phone System in Office 365 licenses to your users. If you didn’t switch to that subscription, then you’re done.

Assign Phone System in Office 365 licenses

Complete the following steps only if you switched to an Office 365 Enterprise E3 + Phone System in Office 365 subscription.

Tip: You can use the Microsoft 365 admin center to reassign licenses for up to 20 users at a time. If you have hundreds or thousands of users, you can optionally use Remote PowerShell to assign user licenses. To learn how, see Assign licenses to user accounts with Office 365 PowerShell.

Reassign user licenses

  1. In the Admin center, go to the Active users page, or choose Users > Active users.

    If you're using Office 365 Germany, go to this Active users page.

    If you're using Office 365 operated by 21Vianet, go to this Active users page.

  2. Select the boxes next to the names of the users that you want to move to the Office 365 Enterprise E3 subscription.

    Tip: You can select up to 20 users at a time.

  3. In the Bulk actions-pane, choose Edit product licenses.

    Bulk edit license assignments.
  4. Select Add to existing product license assignments > Next.

  5. Switch the toggle to the On position next to Office 365 Phone System.

  6. When you’re done, choose Add > Close.

Switch plans manually

To manually switch users to another subscription, complete the following phases in the order shown.

  • Phase 1: Buy user licenses for Office 365 Enterprise E3

  • Phase 2: Verify that your E3 subscription has the right number of licenses

  • Phase 3: (Optional) Purchase an add-on subscription

  • Phase 4: Reassign user licenses

  • Phase 5: Cancel the Office 365 Enterprise E4 subscription

Note: If you’re paying for the Office 365 Enterprise E3 plan by invoice, a credit check might be required. If a credit check needs to be done, switching plans can take up to two business days. A credit check might be required if you have chosen to pay by invoice or your purchase has reached a certain cost level. If this happens, the new subscription might not be available to switch users to until the credit check is done. However, users will have full access to their Office 365 Enterprise E4 plan until you switch them to the new one.

Phase 1: Buy user licenses for Office 365 Enterprise E3

  1. In the Admin center, go to the Subscriptions page, or choose Billing > Subscriptions.

    If you're using Office 365 Germany, go to this Subscriptions page.

    If you're using Office 365 operated by 21Vianet, go to this Subscriptions page.

  2. On the Subscriptions page, choose Add subscriptions.

  3. Mouse over or tap the Office 365 Enterprise E3 subscription, and then choose Buy Now.

    Buy now button for adding and Enterprise E3 subscription.
  4. Enter the number of user licenses you need, chose whether to pay each month or for the whole year, and then choose Check out now.

  5. Review the pricing information and choose Next.

  6. Provide your payment information, and then choose Place order > Go to Admin Home.

Phase 2: Verify that your E3 subscription has the right number of licenses

It’s important to make sure that all the services inside your new subscription have been set up before moving on to the next phase. If the subscription isn’t ready when you first check, try again later.

Note: If you purchased a subscription by invoice and a credit check is required, it can take up to two business days before the subscription is available.

  1. In the Admin center, go to the Subscriptions page, or choose Billing > Subscriptions.

    If you're using Office 365 Germany, go to this Subscriptions page.

    If you're using Office 365 operated by 21Vianet, go to this Subscriptions page.

  2. Make sure that the Office 365 Enterprise E3 subscription appears under Active, and that the number of purchased licenses is the same that you have for Office 365 Enterprise E4.

    Number of purchased licenses are shown under the Licenses section.

Phase 3: (Optional) Purchase an add-on subscription

In order to bring your Office 365 Enterprise E3 subscription up to the same functionality or higher that you had with Office 365 Enterprise E4, you’ll need to purchase one of the following add-on subscriptions

  • Skype for Business Plus CAL This add-on subscription brings your E3 subscription up to the functionality you had with E4.

  • Phone System in Office 365 This add-on subscription includes the Skype for Business Plus CAL and also provides cloud PBX functionality.

If you haven’t yet decided which add-on subscription is right for your organization, see Options for Office 365 Enterprise E4 customers for more information before you proceed.

Purchase an add-on subscription

  1. In the Admin center, go to the Subscriptions page, or choose Billing > Subscriptions.

    If you're using Office 365 Germany, go to this Subscriptions page.

    If you're using Office 365 operated by 21Vianet, go to this Subscriptions page.

  2. On the Subscriptions page, choose Add subscriptions.

  3. Scroll down to the Add-on Subscriptions section of the page.

    Add on Subscriptions section of the Purchase Services page of the Office 365 admin center.
  4. Mouse over or tap the Skype for Business add-on subscription that you want to purchase, and then choose Buy Now.

  5. Enter the number of user licenses you need, chose whether to pay each month or for the full year, and then choose Check out now.

  6. Review the pricing information and then choose Next.

  7. Provide your payment information, and then choose Place order > Go to Admin Home.

Phase 4: Reassign user licenses

You can use the Microsoft 365 admin center to reassign licenses for up to 20 users at a time.

Tip: If you have a lot of users, you can optionally use Office 365PowerShell to assign user licenses. To learn how, see Assign licenses to user accounts with Office 365 PowerShell.

Reassign user licenses

  1. In the Admin center, go to the Active users page, or choose Users > Active users.

    If you're using Office 365 Germany, go to this Active users page.

    If you're using Office 365 operated by 21Vianet, go to this Active users page.

  2. Select the boxes next to the names of the users that you want to move to the Office 365 Enterprise E3 subscription.

    Tip: You can select up to 20 users at a time.

  3. In the Bulk actions-pane, choose Edit product licenses.

    Bulk edit license assignments.
  4. Select Replace existing product license assignments > Next.

  5. Switch the toggle to the Off position next to Office 365 Enterprise E4.

  6. Switch the toggle to the On position for Office 365 Enterprise E3.

  7. If you purchased the Phone System in Office 365 subscription, switch the toggle to the On position for that one as well.

    Note: When you purchase Skype for Business Plus CAL add-on, you won't need to assign additional licenses to your users. Your subscription will be listed as an add-on in the admin center under Subscriptions. However, you won't see it under Licenses or in user settings. Your users will only have the Office 365 Enterprise E3 license assigned.

  8. When you’re done, choose Replace > Close.

Phase 5: Cancel the Office 365 Enterprise E4 subscription

After all of your users have been reassigned to Office 365 Enterprise E3, cancel the E4 subscription in order to remove the licenses that you no longer need. To learn how, see Cancel Office 365 for business.

After you’ve cancelled the Office 365 Enterprise E4 subscription, continue to purchase an add-on subscription.

Still need help? Contact support.

As an admin for Office 365 for business, you get free access to our knowledgeable support agents for pre-sales, account, and billing support, as well as for help resolving technical issues. You can also contact support on behalf of Office 365 users in your organization.

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

See Also

Billing in Office 365 for business – Admin Help

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