Unassign licenses from users

You can remove, or unassign, licenses from users on either the Active users page, or on the Licenses page. Which method you use depends on whether you want to unassign product licenses from specific users, or unassign users licenses from specific products.

Unassign licenses from users on the Licenses page

When you use the Licenses page to unassign licenses, you unassign licenses for a specific product for up to 20 users.

  1. In the admin center, go to the Billing > Licenses page.
  2. Select the product for which you want to unassign licenses.
  3. Select the users for which you want to unassign licenses.
  4. Select Unassign licenses.
  5. In the Unassign licenses box, select Unassign.

Unassign licenses from one user on the Active users page

Use the new admin center to remove licenses from one user

The new admin center is available to all Microsoft 365 admins. You can opt in by selecting the Try the new admin center toggle located at the top of the Home page. For more information, see About Microsoft 365 admin center preview.

  1. In the admin center, go to the Users > Active users page.

  2. On the Active Users page, select the row of the user you want to unassign a license for.

  3. In the right pane, select Licenses and Apps.

  4. Expand the Licenses section, clear the boxes for the licenses that you want to unassign, then select Save changes.

Use the old admin center to unassign licenses for one user

  1. In the admin center, go to the Users > Active users page.

    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. Pick the user you want to unassign the license for.

  3. On the right, in the Product licenses row, select Edit.

  4. In the Product licenses pane, switch the toggle to the Off position for the license you want to unassign for the user. For example, if you switch off the Office 365 Enterprise E3 license, it unassigns that license and all services under that license for that user.

  5. At the bottom of the Product licenses pane, select Save > Close > Close.

Unassign licenses from multiple users on the Active users page

Use the new admin center to remove licenses from multiple users

The new admin center is available to all Microsoft 365 admins. You can opt in by selecting the Try the new admin center toggle located at the top of the Home page. For more information, see About the new Microsoft 365 admin center.

  1. In the admin center, go to the Users > Active users page.

  2. Select the circles next to the names of the users you want to unassign licenses for.

  3. At the top, select More options (...), then select Manage product licenses.

  4. In the Manage product licenses pane, select Replace existing product license assignments > Next.

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

Use the old admin center to unassign licenses for multiple users

  1. In the admin center, go to the Users > Active users page.

    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 you want to unassign all licenses for.

  3. In the Bulk actions pane, select Edit product licenses.

  4. In the Replace existing products pane, select Replace existing product license assignments > Next.

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

What you need to know about unassigning licenses for users

  • You must be a Global admin, Billing admin, License admin, or User management admin. For more information, see About Office 365 admin roles.

  • You can remove licenses from user accounts with Office 365 PowerShell.

  • You can also delete user accounts that have been assigned a license to make their license available to other users. When you delete a user account, their license is immediately available to be assigned to someone else.

  • When a license is removed from a user, data that is associated with that account is held for 30 days. After the 30-day grace period, the data is deleted and can't be recovered. Files that are saved in OneDrive or SharePoint Online aren't deleted.

    Also, the user's mailbox is no longer searchable by using an eDiscovery tool such as Content Search or Advanced eDiscovery when the license is removed. For more information, see the "Searching disconnected or de-licensed mailboxes" section in Content Search in Office 365.

  • If you have an Enterprise subscription, like Office 365 Enterprise E3, Exchange Online lets you preserve the mailbox data of a deleted user account by using inactive mailboxes. For more information, see Create and manage inactive mailboxes in Exchange 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 Remove a former employee.

  • If you remove a user's license and they still have Office installed, they see Unlicensed Product notifications when they use Office.