A license allows a person or company to do something that they otherwise are not allowed to do. In British English, the spelling is licence. 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.
Examples of licenses[change]
There are many different types of licenses.
The laws of most countries say that people are only allowed to drive cars if they have a 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.
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 he understands the rules about hunting.
Patent, copyright, and trademark licenses[change]
A person or a company can also give a license to a patent, copyright, or trademark that they own. In those cases, the government has said that the owner may stop other people from using their rights. So in order for another person to use an owner's patent, copyright, or trademark, they need permission from the owner. For example, when someone buys a computer software application, they also need a license from the creator of the software (a copyright owner) allowing the buyer to use the software.
Difference between license and licence[change]
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.