set of permissions and restrictions to use something

A license (in American English) or licence (in British English) allows someone to do something that they otherwise are not allowed to do.[1] A person usually has to pay some money, and maybe pass a test to get a license. A license is usually written but it does not have to be. Most kinds of licenses can only be used by the person they were given to. Licenses may be temporary or permanent. Some licenses can not be taken away once they are given. A person with a license is called a licensee.[2]

In many countries, if a person tries to do something without the correct license to do it, they might have to pay a fine or go to prison.

Examples of licenses


There are many different types of licenses.

Driver's license


The laws of most countries say that people are only allowed to drive cars if they have a driver's license. If a person does not have a license, they may have to pay a fine if they are caught by the police. In many countries, a person must take a test and pay money to get a license. The test would check that they know the road rules, and have the skill to drive a car.[3]

Hunting license


Other licenses give permission to shoot animals (often called a hunting license). The hunting license usually says when a person may hunt. A hunter may have to pass a test to show that they understand the rules about hunting.[4]

Television licence


In the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, if someone has a television set, they must buy a "television licence" every year.[5][6]


Copyright is a law that gives the owner of a creative work the right to decide what other people can do with it. A person or a company can give a license to a copyright that they own. So in order for another person to use an owner's copyright they need permission from the owner. For example, when someone buys computer software, they also need a license from the creator of the software (a copyright owner) allowing the buyer to use the software.[7][8]

Difference between license and licence


"License" is a verb and "licence" is a noun. "Licensing sessions" were the meetings of magistrates which decided about giving licences to sell alcohol.

In American English there is no difference in spelling between the verb "to license" meaning to give permission, and the noun "a license" meaning the permission to do something.

Distinction between a licence and a qualification


A degree in medicine is a qualification showing a person has successfully studied medicine. It is awarded for life. A licence to practice medicine is a legal permission to do so within the territory covered by the licensing authority. The licence may be taken away ('revoked') in certain situations.



  1. "Synonyms of license |". Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  2. "license". LII / Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  3. "Driving licenses". Thales Group. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  4. "Hunting Licenses and Permits | Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries". Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  5. "TELEVISION LICENCE (noun) definition and synonyms | Macmillan Dictionary". Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  6. "TV Licence - GOV.UK". Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  7. "Copyright License Definition: 3k Samples". Law Insider. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  8. Collister, Lauren. "LibGuides: Copyright and Intellectual Property Toolkit: Creative Commons, Copyleft, and Other Licenses". Retrieved 2021-06-29.