Field Guide to ArcGIS Pro Licensing

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Licensing can be defined as the ability or right to use a specific product for a specified period of time. There are various types of licenses and license agreements to meet the needs of different organizations. The following article provides a catalog of the Environmental Systems Research Institute's (Esri) licensing resources and information for ArcGIS Pro.

  • Note: An ArcGIS Online Desktop entitlement subscription is needed to use ArcGIS Pro.

Product Reference

ArcGIS Pro is a new application that runs in conjunction with ArcGIS Desktop. Therefore, ArcGIS Pro is not a replacement for ArcMap, rather a supplement with specific capabilities that are beneficial to users alongside ArcMap functionality. ArcGIS Pro offers unique capabilities such as: 64-bit support, combined 2D/3D visualization, multiple layer support, and project-based workflows. Map files (.mxd), scenes (.sxd) and globes (.3dd) can all be migrated from ArcMap into ArcGIS Pro. However, there is no reverse functionality, so ArcGIS Pro map documents are not supported by ArcMap.

ArcGIS Pro Product Resources
Source Topics Covered
ArcGIS Pro Product Site Functionality, specs, features, etc.
Esri Training Catalog Esri training resources on how to implement and use ArcGIS Pro
Getting Started with ArcGIS Pro System requirements for ArcGIS Pro
Getting Started with ArcGIS Pro Quick start guide for installing and licensing ArcGIS Pro

ArcGIS Pro Licensing Model

ArcGIS Pro showcases a brand new licensing model where ArcGIS Online and Portal for ArcGIS are used as license managers as opposed to the ArcGIS Administrator used in ArcGIS Desktop. Instead of individually licensing every machine with an ArcGIS Pro license, users will create and utilize a personal named user or entitlement user account to authorize ArcGIS Pro.

Starting from ArcGIS Pro version 1.2, users have the option to convert Named User licenses into concurrent-use or single-use licenses, which is similar to ArcGIS Desktop. However, the licenses for ArcGIS Pro cannot be used for ArcGIS Desktop and vice versa.

In ArcGIS Pro, there are three types of ArcGIS Desktop licenses which are Named User (available for ArcGIS Pro only), Single Use and Concurrent Use. By default, ArcGIS Pro uses Named User license type. However, user have the option to convert Named User licenses to Single Use or convert Named User licenses to Concurrent Use

Technical Articles on ArcGIS Pro licenses
Article Number Article Type Topic
12573 How To Automate assignment of ArcGIS Pro licenses
12721 How To Get started with ArcGIS Pro using concurrent or single-use licenses
12726 How To Locate the ArcGIS Pro Updatelog.txt file
18698 How To Download and install Esri software from My Esri

What Does Entitlement Mean?

To put it simply, an ArcGIS Desktop entitlement means that a user is on current maintenance with their ArcGIS Desktop product, which entitles them to a corresponding license for ArcGIS Pro. All users are entitlement users, but only a few are named users, which will be discussed below. An entitlement also gives the user a subscription account within ArcGIS Online or Portal for ArcGIS. All personal (individual) ArcGIS Desktop users will use ArcGIS Online. Portal for ArcGIS is only for organizations who have it installed within their organizational infrastructure.

How to Get ArcGIS Pro

ArcGIS Pro is included within the framework of an ArcGIS Desktop entitlement. However, customers may only receive ArcGIS Pro licenses if they are on current maintenance with their ArcGIS Desktop product. A maintenance license is a license that has a current maintenance contract with Esri Customer Service. Esri software users who have maintenance licenses are eligible for upgrades to the latest versions of the software, including ArcGIS Pro. The maintenance renewal date will provide the license holder a time at which the maintenance contract expires and needs to be renewed for the continued use of ArcGIS Pro under their ArcGIS Desktop entitlement. If a customer does not retain current maintenance on the ArcGIS Desktop product, there will be no access to ArcGIS Pro or their Desktop entitlement on ArcGIS Online and all active licenses will be revoked until they are renewed.

ArcGIS Pro licenses cannot be purchased individually or separately from ArcGIS Desktop.

Maintenance Resources
Source Topics Covered
Esri Maintenance Program Benefits of maintenance, Common Questions, How to subscribe

License Levels

ArcGIS Pro has three license levels: Basic, Standard, and Advanced (the same names as used in ArcGIS Desktop). As the license level is increased, additional functionality is included in the capabilities of the user within the ArcGIS Pro product. Customers receive an equal amount of ArcGIS Pro licenses to the amount and license level of the corresponding ArcGIS Desktop product. For example, if a customer (who is current on maintenance) purchases an ArcGIS Desktop Advanced license, then the customer will receive a corresponding ArcGIS Pro Advanced license.

Entitlement User

Customers who acquire an ArcGIS Pro software license from a personal ArcGIS Desktop product on their machine(s) are referred to as entitlement users. Entitlement users create a unique identity within an ArcGIS Online account to license their product. There is no functional difference between entitlement users and named users, rather a distinction in the type of ArcGIS Pro user: individual (entitlement user) or organizational (named user).

Named User

A named user is an available username within an ArcGIS Online setup or Portal for ArcGIS installation for organizations. This is what separates entitlement users from named users; named users are tied to an organization where they are given a named user account by an organizational ArcGIS Pro Administrator. The named user account gives the organizational user a unique identity, since named user accounts cannot be duplicated or used by more than one person.

An identity gives a named user access to ArcGIS wherever they are, since it associates a personal username with an identity that is an online named user credential, licensing the customer to use the product. ArcGIS Pro can be installed on any machine, however, it is the unique named user account that licenses the product for use. The named user account must also be provisioned an ArcGIS Pro license for use by their organizational ArcGIS Pro Administrator. Having a named user identity in ArcGIS Online also gives the customer access to Premium apps such as Collector for ArcGIS, Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS, Esri Maps for Office, and others. Some Premium Apps might have an additional fee. Finally, for organizational Administrators, user identity provides an efficient and flexible licensing model that can stretch across the whole of the organization.

Individual licenses for ArcGIS Pro cannot be purchased, however, organizations can purchase additional named users that have access to the organization's ArcGIS Online account. These users will NOT be able to use ArcGIS Pro. Purchased named users will only be able to use the organization's ArcGIS Online account to access organizational content and extensions stored in their ArcGIS Online account if they are given privileges to do so by their ArcGIS Online Administrator. To receive additional ArcGIS Pro licenses, the organization would have to purchase an additional, qualifying ArcGIS Desktop product.

Named User Resources
Source Topics Covered
Identity Named user identity advantages and information
ArcGIS Named Users and Identity GeoNet identity and named user blog post

Integrating ArcGIS Pro

Depending on the nature of an ArcGIS Product, whether individual or organizational, the integration of ArcGIS Pro will be different. For individual users who are entitled to use ArcGIS Pro, they will install ArcGIS Online to manage their unique username and licensing. For organizations, depending on the infrastructure, the users may need to use ArcGIS Online or Portal for ArcGIS. Even though the needs to use ArcGIS Online of Portal for ArcGIS are different, the functionality of the products themselves is the same, and therefore users will receive the same end-user experience regardless of which integration tool they use. Additional information regarding when to choose ArcGIS Online or Portal for ArcGIS can be found here.

My Esri

A My Esri account is a component of an ArcGIS Online account that gives users access to all participating sections of the Esri website that requires a login. This includes components like GeoNet, My Esri, and My Support. Therefore, an entitlement user MUST have a My Esri account in order to use ArcGIS Pro since ArcGIS Pro is licensed through authorization within ArcGIS Online. All individual accounts already have My Esri access, since an account is required upon purchase and deployment of an ArcGIS product. To sign up or log in to a My Esri account, go to the My Esri portal.

ArcGIS Online

ArcGIS Online is a collaborative, cloud-based platform that allows members of an organization to use, create, and share maps, scenes, apps, data, and access authoritative basemaps and ready-to-use apps. Through ArcGIS Online, the user gains access to Esri's secure cloud, where they can manage, create, and store data as published we layers. Since ArcGIS Online is an integral part of the ArcGIS system, the user can apply it to extend the capabilities of ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS for Server Web API's, and ArcGIS Runtime SDK's. There are 3 types of ArcGIS Online accounts: Public Accounts, Organization Accounts, and Entitlement Accounts.

A public account is an included account that has limited capabilities. Such capabilities include browsing, accessing, and adding existing services to a web map, adding personal data to a web map, storing shapefiles and other data in the account. A public account comes with 2 GB of total storage space and individual items up to 1 GB in size can be uploaded. An organization account allow users to publish feature services and are credit-based. With an organization account, users can leverage the World Geocoding Service and are supplied with a download for Esri Maps for Office. Organization users will have access to the account of their organization and can access groups, data, features, etc. through the organization with the appropriate privileges as dictated by their ArcGIS Online Administrator. Entitlement accounts are ArcGIS Online accounts that are accessed by users who are current on maintenance with an ArcGIS Desktop product.

To use ArcGIS Pro, the entitled user must convert their entitlement into an ArcGIS Online account or a Portal for ArcGIS account depending on infrastructure. For individual users, the entitlement will always be converted into an ArcGIS Online Entitlement Account. This account is for ArcGIS Desktop members that have current maintenance plans with Esri, with one of the benefits being an included subscription to ArcGIS Online. Through ArcGIS Online, the individual user will create a unique username and it will become their ArcGIS Pro login to license the product whenever ArcGIS Pro is opened.

For organizations who have ArcGIS Desktop installed on their machines individually, those users will also convert their entitlements to ArcGIS Online account as well. However, a specific ArcGIS Online Organization Account will convert the user to a named user. All ArcGIS Pro named users will be provisioned for use by the ArcGIS Online Administrator through Customer Service, therefore, organizational users will be given a named user account from their Administrator to use ArcGIS Pro. The Administrator will have control over what license level, extensions, and access to data specific named users can have. Having an Organization Account will also give named users the opportunity to create private groups, share content across the organization, or publically, as long as they have privileges to do so by the Administrator.

ArcGIS Online Resources
Source Topics Covered
ArcGIS Online Product Site Functionality, pricing, etc.
ArcGIS Online Web Help Comprehensive information about all aspects of ArcGIS Online
Esri Training Catalog Catalog of training resources for the implementation and use of ArcGIS Online

Portal for ArcGIS

Portal for ArcGIS is an on-premise version of ArcGIS Online. The target audience for Portal for ArcGIS is for those organizations who require a geospatial content management system that resides within their own Intranet. An organization that utilizes Portal for ArcGIS will typically already be using ArcGIS Server as part of its infrastructure. Portal for ArcGIS is used over ArcGIS Online when an organization has additional security demands and does not permit the use of a public cloud. Also, Portal for ArcGIS allows for extensive customization of their web site so that it complies with organizational corporate branding policies.

There are three deployment methods of Portal for ArcGIS: Private, Hybrid, and Hosted. A private deployment is a completely on-premise system with no access to ArcGIS Online or any other public cloud content. Everything that is hosted on a private portal is only available on the Intranet. A hybrid deployment is the standard at which Portal for ArcGIS comes out of the box. Content comes both from on-premise as well as ArcGIS Online. Finally, a hosted deployment makes use of Esri's cloud that hosts all Portal for ArcGIS content. If an organization is using Portal for ArcGIS, it will be the specific portal of the organization that ArcGIS Pro will connect to when authorizing the license of a named user within that organization.

Portal for ArcGIS Resources
Source Topics Covered
Portal for ArcGIS Product Site Functionality, pricing, etc.
Portal for ArcGIS 101 Portal for ArcGIS definition, capabilities, suggested use
GeoNet Video going through steps to license ArcGIS Pro through Portal for ArcGIS
Esri Videos Configuring ArcGIS Pro licenses with Portal for ArcGIS
Esri ArcGIS Server functionality matrix that includes Portal for ArcGIS

Licensing Portals

When a named user opens ArcGIS Pro, they are also signing in to their organization's licensing portal. The portal is the server that controls software authorizations for the organization's Esri account. Some organizations will set up their own private licensing portal that is separate from the portal that contains the place where data may be stored, thus, sometimes the named user may need to specify the licensing portal that they are using to sign in to ArcGIS Pro.

A different licensing portal URL can be entered when the named user starts ArcGIS Pro. The licensing portal cannot be changed while the ArcGIS Pro application is in use, so it must be changed when the named user first signs in. If a user signs out of their licensing portal, Administrator revokes the license, or Administrator terminates the session while still using ArcGIS Pro, they will receive a warning message stating that ArcGIS Pro will close in 60 minutes and they must save their work.

If a named user takes a license offline from their organization's licensing portal, they must be connected to that same portal when they check the license back in. Additional information about licensing portals can be found here.

Licensing ArcGIS Pro

When licensing ArcGIS Pro, it is important for organizational users to understand the role of the ArcGIS Pro Administrator, as well as the capabilities of ArcGIS Pro licensing including taking licenses offline and checking them back in. These capabilities are highlights of the new ArcGIS Pro licensing model. Although you can only have one session of ArcGIS Pro open on any single machine, a user can run up to three simultaneous sessions of ArcGIS Pro on other machines unless they have taken their license offline.

All licenses for ArcGIS Pro are provisioned as Named User license by default. To use a type of licensing other than the default, users can convert their Named User licenses to Concurrent Use or Single Use licenses in My Esri.

Licensing ArcGIS Pro Resources
Source Topics Covered
ArcGIS Pro Web Help Managing ArcGIS Pro
ArcGIS Pro Web Help ArcGIS Pro Single Use licenses
ArcGIS Pro Web Help ArcGIS Pro Concurrent Use licenses

Single Use License

To use a Single Use license for ArcGIS Pro authorization, it is necessary to convert at least one Named User license to Single Use license in My Esri as Named User license is the default license type. Single Use licenses are stored and managed in My Esri. When managing Single Use licenses in My Esri, the administrator of an organization that has been provisioned for ArcGIS Pro must authorize licenses for members before they can run the app. Each license is associated with one machine and has its own unique authorization number. To authorize the application in the Software Authorization Wizard, the user can do so by either including authorization through the Internet, offline authorization via email, or upload through a secure site.

Concurrent Use License

Concurrent Use licenses are authorized and managed using ArcGIS License Manager. Named User license is the default license type, so before Concurrent Use licenses are stored and managed in License Manager, an administrator must convert Named User licenses to Concurrent Use licenses in My Esri. For ArcGIS Pro 2.2 licenses, use ArcGIS License Manager 2018.0 or later.

With a Concurrent Use license, the machine points to a License Manager Server for license authorization from a shared pool of licenses, and users can select their license level and extensions as long as the desired license is available. Therefore, more users are able to have ArcGIS Pro installed on their machine than the total number of licenses. However, simultaneous use of ArcGIS Pro is limited by the total number of available licenses in the License Manager Server.[1]

Organization Administrators

Organizational Administrators are the go to contact for all questions and problems regarding ArcGIS Pro. If there is an issue where the organization needs to get in touch with Esri Technical Support or Customer Service, it is the Administrator who is the main point of contact to call and resolve any problems. ArcGIS Online includes tools and settings that allow the Administrator of the organization to not only customize the home page, but also manage the organization as a whole. This includes: configuring the website, inviting and adding members and determining their roles, managing content and groups, and setting the security policy.

To license ArcGIS Pro, the Administrator assigns each member a named user account, one license level, and can also enable access to optional extensions that provide specialized tools. For a member to use an extension, the member needs both a level and a license for that specific extension product. If the Administrator does not give certain named users a license level, those named users will not be able to run ArcGIS Pro. Administrator privileges are exclusive to the Administrator account only, even if a custom Administrator role is given with privileges to another named user, there are still capabilities that they will not be able to use such as the ability to configure a website, configure custom roles, remove other Administrators from the organization, and move/share/delete member content.

Organization Administrator Resources
Source Topics Covered
ArcGIS Online Web Help Full list of organizational roles and privileges
Know Before You Pro Video Quick information for Administrators about ArcGIS Pro
ArcGIS Online Web Help Configuring an ArcGIS Online website as an Administrator
ArcGIS Online Web Help Managing resources and groups in ArcGIS Online as an Administrator
ArcGIS Online Web Help Managing ArcGIS Pro licenses through ArcGIS Online as an Administrator

Taking ArcGIS Pro Offline

With ArcGIS Pro, a single license will enable a user to have one offline session at a time. If a named user takes an ArcGIS Pro license offline on their work laptop, then that machine is the only machine that can use the offline license. If the user wanted to switch the offline license to a home computer, they would have to check-in their offline ArcGIS Pro license into their organization and then proceed to take it offline once they are on their home computer. When a license is taken offline, it will remain offline until the organization's ArcGIS Pro entitlement expires or is checked back in by the user. If a machine is destroyed with the ArcGIS Pro license attached to it, then the organization Administrator should have their subscription ID ready and contact Esri Technical Support to recover the destroyed license.

  • Note: To check-in an offline license, the named user signed in to the licensing portal MUST match the named user who checked out the license.

ArcGIS Pro can be taken offline for situations where a named user knows they will have no internet or network connectivity, such as conducting field work. You cannot use ArcGIS Pro on multiple machines while disconnected! When disconnected, the named user will not be prompted to sign-in to ArcGIS Pro when they open the product since they are already authorized through the offline license. Additionally, if the maintenance contract expires while a named user has their license offline, they must check the license back into their organization so that the license can be renewed if the maintenance contract is continued.


Organizations are provisioned with certain amounts of ArcGIS Pro licenses in a given year, as well as licenses for individual ArcGIS Pro users. These licenses have expiration dates, which must be updated through a maintenance contract between Esri and the organization or individual user utilizing the licenses. If a maintenance contract is current, then expiration dates are automatically updated within the organization. However, if a user has checked-out a license that expires during this phase, then the license must be checked back in the be renewed, and then it can be checked out again.

If an organization or individual fails to renew their maintenance contract with Esri, or if the number of licenses in the maintenance contract are decreased, then there is a possibility that the number of licenses could fall into a negative number, or over-draft. If an organization falls into a state of over-draft then no ArcGIS Pro licenses can be assigned, and all expired licenses must be revoked by the Administrator. Once the expired licenses have been revoked, then new valid licenses can be assigned as long as the organization has renewed their maintenance contract with Esri. If a customer has over-drafted licenses, they have 30 days to revoke all expired licenses, otherwise no named users can log-in to ArcGIS Pro.


Common questions and problems concerning licensing the ArcGIS Pro product.

ArcGIS Pro Licensing Problems

ArcGIS Pro Technical Articles
Article Number Article Type Topic
12500 FAQ What are the build numbers for releases of ArcGIS Pro?
12574 FAQ What are some common questions about ArcGIS Pro Licensing?
12573 How To Automate assignment of ArcGIS Pro licenses
12721 How To Get started with ArcGIS Pro using concurrent or single-use licenses
12726 How To Locate the ArcGIS Pro Updatelog.txt file
13863 Problem ArcGIS Pro hangs after login
1204 Problem Unable to sign in to ArcGIS Online or Portal for ArcGIS from ArcGIS Pro
12314 Error The account could not be used to sign in because it is not authorized to use ArcGIS Pro
12720 Error Unable to prepare your authorization
12417 Bug ArcGIS Pro 1.0 fails to sign-in with an error that it fails to initialize license
13147 Bug Users can authorize single use licenses on a per-user installation of ArcGIS Pro
13150 Bug ArcGIS Pro licensing authorization failed
Resources for Common Problems
Source Problem
ArcGIS Pro Web Help Workflow for authorizing ArcGIS Pro to work offline
ArcGIS Pro Web Help Configuring licenses for one or more members by the Administrator
Esri White Papers ArcGIS Pro enterprise deployment guide
ArcGIS Pro Product Page Common licensing questions and answers

See Also

  • "Licensing ArcGIS Pro". Esri.