By Delia / Last update January 13, 2022

If you've purchased a new computer and don't want to purchase another Windows 10 license, or if you plan to sell your computer and keep the license for reuse (e.g. to activate a virtual machine), you may have the need to migrate your Windows 10 key to another computer.

windows 10 license

But can you actually do this, and how do you go about making it happen?

1. How to determine if you can transfer Windows 10 license

Microsoft uses different channels to distribute Windows 10 licenses, the three main ones are Retail, OEM and Volume. However, consumers can usually only get licenses through two channels, Retail and Original Computer Manufacturer (OEM).

If you buy a retail license of Windows 10 from a local store or online retailer, you will be entitled to transfer the license to another computer. The number of transfers is theoretically unlimited, but if you are upgrading to Windows 10 from a retail copy of Windows 8.1 or Windows 7, then only 1 transfer is possible.

If you have a computer with Windows 10 pre-installed, then you are dealing with an OEM license. This license is tied to the computer's motherboard and can be transferred to another drive with the same hardware, but cannot be used to activate another computer. In addition, if you are upgrading from Windows 10 Home Edition to Windows 10 Pro and purchase the upgrade through the Microsoft Store, then the license can be transferred to the new computer because the key will be converted to a digital license linked to your Microsoft account.

Volume licenses are distributed in bulk to large organizations and typically it allows a master key to activate any Windows 10 installation within the organization, but cannot be used to activate devices that are not part of the organization.

2. How to transfer license to a new PC on Windows 10

To transfer a Windows 10 license to a new PC, simply remove the license from the system and apply the same key on the new computer.

Check your license type

Open Start menu, search for “CMD”, right-click on the top result, and select the “Run as administrator” option.

Type the following command and press Enter to check your license type:

slmgr /dli

The license information will show on the pop-up window.

check license type

Deactivate the old Windows 10 computer

To remove the license key on Windows 10, type the following command and press Enter.

slmgr.vbs /upk

If you do not see the "Uninstalled product key successfully" message, you may need to run the command several times until the message appears.

deactive license cmd

Then type the following command to clear the license from the registry and press Enter.

slmgr.vbs /cpky

Once you have completed these steps, you will be able to activate the same version of Windows 10 on the new system using the license.

clear license from registry

Although the above action will uninstall the key, the process will not remove the activation from the Microsoft server. Instead, the process will prevent detection of the same key being used in multiple computers, allowing you to reactivate another computer.

If the computer is not connected to the Internet, then there is no need to perform these steps, as you should be able to use the license on the new system without problems.

Activating a new Windows 10 computer

After deactivating the previous installation, you can activate the new installation manually using the license.

To activate Windows 10 with a previous key, use the following steps.

Open the Start menu, search for CMD, and select the "Run as administrator" command prompt option.

Type the following command to reactivate Windows 10 and press Enter.

slmgr.vbs /ipk xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx

*Replace "xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx" with the product key you want to use to activate Windows 10.

Then you can run “slmgr /dli” again to verify activation. If the "License Status" shows "Licensed", then Windows 10 has been successfully activated.

After completing these steps, Windows 10 will be successfully activated in the new installation, which can be viewed via "Settings" > "Update & Security" > "Activation".

windows 10 is actived

If you plan to transfer your existing Windows 10 license to another computer, make sure it matches the version activated by the license. For example, if you remove a Windows 10 Pro key, you can only use it to activate another Windows 10 Pro installation. You cannot use a Pro license to activate a machine running Home Edition, and vice versa.