What is a Windows citizenship license?

Tom Burdge  
| 14 June 2022

If you’re an IT Refurbisher who provides a public benefit, companies provide discounts on certain software as a way of supporting your work. Microsoft provides this kind of discount for their Windows licenses for refurbished PCs and laptops. This discounted license is called Windows Citizenship. If you’re eligible for discounted licenses, you won’t want to miss out on the cost savings that Windows citizenship offers.

In this post, we’ll first outline go through what a Windows Citizenship license is. Then we’ll show a few examples of the kind of organizations that use Windows citizenship licenses. Finally, we’ll recommend how to get started with Windows Citizenship licenses in your organization.

What is a Windows Citizenship License?

A Windows Citizenship license is a Windows license that Microsoft sells at a reduced price for organizations that provide a public benefit. Eligible organizations include educational institutions, charitable organizations, and organizations with technology access programs for disadvantaged groups. Citizenship licenses are the least expensive Windows licenses that there are. Aside from the cost, Windows citizenship is identical to Windows Pro.

Laptop held by a person above a blue recycling bin on a table

Microsoft already sells Windows licenses to Refurbishers at discounted rates. In offering reduced prices, Microsoft encourages refurbished IT as a sustainable alternative to buying new.

Microsoft offers Refurbisher Citizenship licenses to eligible organizations at a further discount to the discount for Refurbishers. In doing so, Microsoft combines the sustainability benefits of refurbishing with the public benefits that eligible organizations provide.

Citizenship licenses must be used for second-hand PCs and laptops that are older than six months and have had their previous operating system wiped. Citizenship licenses can only purchased digitally. Therefore, to purchase citizenship licenses today you will need to switch to digital.

Who is eligible for Windows Citizenship licenses?

Microsoft has strict criteria for which kind of organizations are eligible for Windows citizenship licenses.

One of three organisations are eligible:

  1. Eligible Academic institutions
Students sitting on steps. Students are eligible for Windows citizenship licenses

To reduce the cost-burden of technology for students, Microsoft offers citizenship licenses to certain educational institutions.

Eligible academic users are one of three types of educational institution. They can be accredited academic institutions, such as a university or secondary school.

  1. Charitable non-profits
Charitable organization giving to a woman in a wheelchair. Charities are eligible for Windows citizenship licenses

To purchase citizenship licenses as a charitable organization, the specific eligibility requirements vary by country. The general requirement is that the institution have relevant legal recognition in their country as a charitable institution.

For example, in the United States an exemption from federal income tax as a 501(c)(3) is sufficient. Eligible institutions can include non-profit charities, churches, and public libraries.

  1. Institutions which run Technology Access Programs
Child sitting at a computer holding up peace sign.

Technology Access Programs distribute refurbished PCs and laptops to individuals who have decreased access to technology. To qualify, an institution which offers this program must be either a charitable organization, an academic institution, a national or local government agency, or an international governmental organization.

The kind of individual who can receive refurbished PCs for a Technology Access Program must be a person who: is a member of a community with limited access to technology, has a disability, or is a member of a low-income family.

Why should I use Windows Citizenship licenses?

The most obvious reason to choose Windows citizenship licenses are the cost savings. Windows citizenship licenses cost less than Windows Pro licenses but cost less. By saving this cost, an eligible institution can spend their resources on other projects.

Genuine Microsoft Refurbisher Label., which says 'Students are eligible for Windows citizenship licenses.' All Windows Citizenship licenses for refurbished PCs have this label.

However, there are more reasons to choose a Windows citizenship license. To purchase legitimate Windows licenses, Refurbishers must buy them from a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher. The Microsoft Authorized Refurbishers program is the industry standard of excellence for refurbished IT.

When you buy from a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher, you can add a Genuine Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher Label to the device. This label ensures that you and any subsequent of the PC can show that the OS license on the PC is compliant and legitimate.


Windows Citizenship licenses are discounted Windows pro licenses for refurbished PCs or laptops. Only three types of organization can purchase Windows citizenship licenses: academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and institutions which run Technology Access Programs.

How can I buy Windows Citizenship licenses?

Want to source Windows Citizenship licenses?

At SMART, we are a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher. You can sign up to for our free pay as you go windows license management service at smartpk.com/getstarted. You can also read about the signup process, and how easy it is, here.

Email us at [email protected] with the details of how you qualify for Citizenship licenses (academic institution, non-profit, or technology access program) and we will verify your eligibility.

SMART logo, the Superior Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher Tool. Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher accreditation for SMART. FY21 Microsoft Innovation award, won by SMART. With a Green background.

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