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How To Transfer Your Craft CMS License

10 min read
How To Transfer Your Craft CMS License

Transferring licenses is a crucial but often confusing part of transitioning Craft CMS ownership. This guide provides invaluable clarity on the entire process—from locating license details and initiating transfers, to troubleshooting hiccups and exploring alternatives. Follow our clear, actionable steps to smoothly transfer your Craft license.

To transfer a Craft CMS license, the current owner logs in to locate details like the License Key, enabled domains, and expiration date. They initiate the transfer by entering the recipient's email. The recipient then logs in to accept the transfer request, which completes the process. Both parties should update records to reflect the new license ownership.

Transferring Craft CMS Licenses

Overview of Craft CMS Licenses

Craft CMS offers both a core and pro edition of its content management system. The core edition provides a solid foundation for managing content, with features like intuitive editing interfaces and user permissions. The pro edition builds on this with additional functionality like native matrix fields, single sign-on, and advanced user groups. Craft CMS pricing differs depending on the edition you have. 

When you purchase a Craft CMS license, the details are shown on your account dashboard. This includes the license type (core vs pro), number of enabled domains, and the expiration date.

Licenses are tied to a specific account and domain, they cannot simply be transferred or sold to another party. However, it is possible to initiate a license transfer through Craft CMS support. This allows the license ownership to change while preserving the original license details like enabled domains and expiration date.

There are some limits on Craft CMS license transfers. For example, core licenses can only be transferred once. Pro licenses can be transferred multiple times, but no more than once per year. There are also restrictions when transferring licenses between different types of accounts like personal, commercial, and enterprise. But in general, Craft CMS aims to accommodate legitimate license transfers between owners.

Reasons for Transferring Licenses

There are a few common scenarios where transferring a Craft CMS license makes sense or becomes necessary:

  • Ownership change - If a business or agency that owns Craft CMS licenses is sold to a new owner, licenses would need to be formally transferred. This ensures the new owner has full access to manage the Craft installs and domains.

  • Site acquisition - When acquiring a website that uses Craft CMS, the buyer would want the Craft licenses properly transferred to their account. This provides ownership of the licenses and control over managing that Craft install moving forward.

  • ** Agency client transitions** - Web design agenciesoften use Craft for client websites. If the client decides to leave the agency, it would be prudent to transfer the Craft licenses directly to the client for ownership continuity.

  • Internaltransitions - Employees with individual pro licenses maytransfer them to a company account if they switch businesses. This keeps the licenses active while changing the registered owner.

In these situations, formally transferring licenses through Craft ensures there are no disruptions in using or managing the Craft CMS installs. It provides assurance to both the original and new license owners.

Overview of Transfer Process

The process of transferring a Craft CMS license ownership is relatively straightforward, just involving a few steps:

  • Login - Both the current license owner and recipient need to log into their Craft accounts. This ensures proper authorization to initiate and approve the transfer.

  • Locate details - The current owner needs to locate details like the license edition, enabled domains, and expiration date. These are displayed under Licenses in the Craft account.

  • Initiate transfer - Using the license details, the current owner then initiates the license transfer process through their account. This submits a transfer request to Craft CMS.

  • Confirm transfer - The recipient of the transfer then needs to confirm and approve the license transfer through their own Craft account. This completes the process.

  • Notify - It's advisable for both parties to notify each other when initiating and confirming transfer. This keeps everyone informed.

  • Update records - Finally, each party should update their internal records to reflect the license owner changes. This maintains continuity going forward.

Following these steps closely allows the license transfer process to flow smoothly. Craft CMS aims to make transfers straightforward for legitimate ownership changes. However, it's important both parties verify details and communicate throughout the process. This ensures transfers complete successfully.

With the license transferred, the recipient assumes full ownership and management capabilities. The licenses retain their original details like edition, enabled domains, and expiration date. So functionality and access remain consistent, while merely changing the registered license owner in Craft CMS.

Step-by-Step Guide to Transferring Craft Licenses

Logging In and Locating License

To start the Craft CMS license transfer process, you first need to log into your Craft account that currently holds the license. Go to the main Craft website and click "Log in" in the top right corner. Enter your email and password to access your account dashboard.

Once logged in, click on "Licenses" in the left sidebar. This will display details on all licenses associated with your account. Locate the specific license you wish to transfer. Note key details like the edition (core vs pro), enabled domains, and expiration date. You will need to provide this info to the recipient.

To find the License Key, click on the license edition name. Then click "License Details" and you will see the full License Key at the top. Copy or write this down as you will need to send this to the person receiving the license transfer. Having the License Key makes it easy for them to accept and confirm the transfer.

Initiating the License Transfer

With the license details ready, you can now initiate the license transfer process:

  • In your Craft account, navigate back to the Licenses page and click "Transfer License" below the license you wish to transfer.

  • On the transfer form, paste or type the License Key into the field provided.

  • Enter the email address of the recipient's Craft account where the license will be transferred.

  • Add a short note if desired. This is optional but can provide context on the transfer reason.

  • Check the box to agree to Craft's transfer policy and click "Send Transfer Request".

This will send a license transfer request notification to the recipient along with the License Key details. They will then be able to log into their own Craft account and accept the transfer.

Once sent, you should receive a confirmation that the transfer request was successfully initiated. You can also verify the Pending status on the Licenses page. Be sure to let the recipient know to check their email and Craft account to accept the transfer.

Completing the Transfer

Once the recipient has accepted the license transfer request, there are a few final steps to fully complete the process:

  • The transfer request will change to Accepted status in your Craft account under Licenses.

  • Similarly, the recipient will see the transfer as Accepted in their account.

  • Craft CMS will then process and confirm the license transfer.

  • When fully completed, the license will disappear from your account and show up under the recipient's account.

  • The recipient will receive a confirmation email that the license transfer is 100% complete.

  • Check your Craft account to verify the license no longer appears for your account. This confirms you are no longer the owner.

  • Both parties should update their internal license records and ownership details accordingly.

  • If managing live Craft sites for clients, be sure to update the license owner details in the CMS install itself under system settings.

With these steps completed, the Craft CMS license transfer process is fully finished. The recipient now has complete ownership and access to manage the license going forward. You will no longer have access or responsibilities for that license. Be sure to coordinate any additional details like enabling additional domains or support needs directly with the new license owner.

Following this straightforward and smooth license transfer process allows Craft CMS licenses to change owners when needed. Whether due to business transitions, site acquisitions or ownership changes, transferring licenses ensures continuity for all parties involved. Just be sure both the current and new owners properly initiate, confirm and record the license transfers.

Transferring Licenses to Clients

Process for Client Transfers

When it's time to transfer a Craft CMS license from a web developer or agency to a client, the high-level process remains the same but there are a few additional steps that help ensure a smooth transition. The agency should take time to thoroughly explain license details, types, transfers, and ownership responsibilities to the client. This education sets proper expectations upfront on what the client is gaining control of and what they need to manage going forward.

It's wise to initiate the actual license transfer simultaneously with final site delivery and payment. Avoid delays between site launch and formally shifting license ownership, as this can cause confusion over who exactly is in control. Provide hands-on support and walk the client through the necessary steps during the license transfer process. Don't just send them written instructions and leave them on their own. A thorough project handoff call and documentation review should happen when the site and license are fully transferred to close the loop. And the agency should grant the client full Craft CMS admin access upon transfer so they have the ability to manage the environment day one. Following up with the client about a week after the transfer helps tie up loose ends and address any hiccups that arise.

Taking these client-focused steps tailored to license transfers helps avoid frustrations and paves the way for a smooth shift in ownership.

Updating Billing and Support

Updating billing and support details requires special attention when moving a license from agency control to the client. The agency should proactively cancel any recurring billing linked to the license and delete any cached payment details to avoid unwanted charges. The client should log into their Craft account and add new payment information for future renewals or purchases.

Similarly, the agency should remove their personnel and contact information from the license support details. The client should add their own team members and contacts for support communications going forward. If the client needs to purchase additional domains down the road, they will now need to get separate quotes and make payments through their account rather than relying on the agency. And any future invoices for license renewals or added domains will be sent directly to the client for processing once ownership transfers.

Openly communicating expectations around billing and support changes that accompany license transfers avoids confusion and surprises for the client later on.

Implications of Client Transfers

When a Craft license fully shifts from an agency to client control, several implications result that should be clearly understood by both parties:

First, the client assumes all responsibility for future license renewal payments and any desired purchases of additional domains. The financial burden shifts solely to them.

Second, the agency loses all ability to manage the licenses and enabled domains unless explicitly granted temporary access by the client. The client has full ownership of the environment.

Third, clients gain complete ownership of support communications and customization requests. They cannot rely on the agency for troubleshooting without a new contract in place.

In summary, the burden of supporting and troubleshooting the Craft CMS environment shifts entirely to the client once licenses transfer. The agency loses access unless specifically stated otherwise.

Setting clear expectations about this transfer of power and financial responsibility is critical for a smooth transition between agency and client. Taking time to educate and clarify the impacts avoids confusion and prevents unwelcome surprises down the road.

Troubleshooting Craft License Transfers

Common Transfer Errors

Craft CMS license transfers typically proceed smoothly when done carefully, but an occasional error can disrupt the process if not addressed. Rather than cryptic system errors, most problems stem from simple human oversights. For example, sending the transfer request to an old email that the recipient no longer uses will result in license change emails bouncing back unseen. Double checking the precise email registered to the recipient's Craft account avoids this headache.

Similarly, recipients may inadvertently overlook transfer requests in their inbox and forget to log in and confirm them. Following up to confirm the transfer email was received prevents transfers stalling indefinitely. Simple Craft user login problems can also block access to transfer licenses if passwords have been forgotten or accounts deactivated. Resetting passwords quickly remedies this roadblock. And individuals with outdated payment methods on file may hit declines when attempting transfers. Updating expired card details before (re)initiating prevents failures here.

In some cases, confusion over using the proper test versus live Craft portal can lead to transfers not displaying as anticipated. And restrictive browser settings like disabling cookies can interfere with the license dashboard. Checking these details takes little time but prevents frustrating issues. Addressing small but common oversights upfront keeps the Craft license transfer process smooth.

Fixing a Failed Transfer

When a Craft CMS license transfer does fail partway through, taking a systematic approach can swiftly get things back on track:

Start by carefully rechecking the recipient's email, spelling, active Craft portal, and login status. With the correct details confirmed, resend the transfer request. Ask both parties to verify they can fully access their Craft accounts and licenses. If an expired payment method originally blocked the transfer, get that updated card added to the account.

Review the transfer status displayed in both accounts as Pending or Accepted; if they still don't align, try sending the transfer again. For deeper technical issues, Craft's support team can assist with resending transfers or troubleshooting stuck license changes. Setting a defined time for both parties to coordinate completing the transfer can also avoid crossed wires.

With methodical verification and communication, most wayward license transfers can be completed successfully. The key is catching the minor issue, rather than letting frustration build into bigger problems.

Getting Help with Transfers

For thorny Craft license transfer issues, Pixel & Tonic's dedicated support team can provide assistance. Their support site offers extensive help articles, FAQs, and troubleshooting tips for many common transfer scenarios. During UK business hours, live chat delivers quick answers to transfer questions. For urgent or complex transfer failures, submitting a support ticket allows for deeper investigation.

Providing the detailed License Key, specific error messages, and screenshots when seeking support speeds the resolution. For critical business impact issues, phone support facilitates real-time troubleshooting. The support representative can monitor and help resend transfers if needed, and assist communication between the two parties.

While Pixel & Tonic has limits on direct transfer involvement, their team works to address major transfer blocking problems. Complete information is key—having license details, error messages, and screenshots allows their team to efficiently troubleshoot and get Craft license transfers back on track.

Alternatives to Transferring Licenses

Adding Users to License

Instead of fully transferring a Craft CMS license to a new owner, another option is adding them as a User under your existing license.

This allows you to share access to manage the Craft install without relinquishing license ownership. You maintain control of the core license details and account while permitting other users to log in and work within the environment.

To add a user, log into your Craft account and go to Settings > Users. Here you can invite new users, establishing their email, name, password, and setting their User Group permissions. Editor and Admin groups allow different levels of Craft access.

This user management is ideal when you want to grant web developers, employees, or clients access to Craft without licensing changes. You still retain ownership and billing while parcelling out selective access.

Downsides to be aware of include limited user permission flexibility and no clear ownership transfer. But for temporary or partial access needs adding users is an alternative to consider before initiating full license transfers.

Buying Additional Licenses

Instead of transferring a Craft license to a new owner, another option is purchasing one or more additional licenses directly from Pixel & Tonic.

If you anticipate needing multiple Craft licenses across different businesses or clients, buying extra licenses yourself allows you to retain ownership and flexibly allocate them.

For example, a digital agency could purchase 5 pro licenses upfront. These could be divided between internal team members and active client projects while remaining under agency ownership.

Additional license benefits include bulk discount pricing, spreading payments over time, and consolidating license renewals and management. Downsides are the larger upfront costs and needing to forecast how many may be needed.

But for agencies and developers who need multiple flexible Craft licenses, buying additional licenses themselves provides an alternative to transfers.

Developer Retains License

When transitioning a Craft CMS site from a developer to client, another option beyond transferring the license is having the developer retain ownership of the existing license.

The developer would purchase a separate license owned by the client. But the developer would continue hosting the original site and maintain the license it was built on.

To give the client access, the developer can provision a user account for the client within the Craft install with Editor or Admin access as needed.

This allows the client visibility and ability to manage content without fully taking over the license or hosting. It also avoids disruptions that can accompany transfers.

Downsides are lack of client ownership and reliance on the developer for license management. But for certain clients transitioning sites, this can offer a shorter term alternative approach.

Ongoing access would need to be negotiated, with the developer invoicing the client for retained license fees accordingly. But for developers hesitant to relinquish licenses or clients unprepared to takeover ownership fully, this hybrid approach could serve as a bridge option.

In summary, fully transferring a Craft CMS license is not the only option when ownership needs change. Adding users, purchasing extra licenses, or retaining existing licenses while granting access can serve as alternatives in the right circumstances.

The needs of each situation will dictate the best path. But understanding these license sharing or retention alternatives provides added flexibility beyond straight transfers.

Shape April 2022 HR 202
Andy Golpys
- Author

Andy has scaled multiple businesses and is a big believer in Craft CMS as a tool that benefits both Designer, Developer and Client. 

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