If you’ve bought a theme for your WordPress website and now want to use it on another WordPress site – you’ll be wondering what happens if you use the theme again.
Of course we’re talking about self hosted WordPress here – not themes purchased on WordPress.com for use on WordPress.com hosted websites.
In essence you’ve bought a license to use a WordPress theme provided by a theme developer. The terms of the theme license will determine whether you’re allowed to use the WordPress theme more than once.
WordPress Theme licenses largely differentiate between types of use. For example, if you’re an agency and you sell website design services and you’re providing the theme for the client – you’ll need a specific (much more expensive) WordPress Theme License to enable you to use the WordPress theme multiple times for multiple clients.
That doesn’t mean you’re off the hook if you’re trying to install a WordPress Theme multiple times for your own website projects.
Different personal theme licenses allow different levels of repeated use of WordPress themes on multiple live websites.
You should check the terms of your personal theme license to understand if you can activate the theme on more than 1 live website lawfully.
Websites for checking theme license restrictions
ThemeForest (Envato Elements)
Elegant Themes (Divi & Extra) (simple awesome licensing. Unlimited use!)
Theme Fusion (Avada)
Can I Activate a Theme on more than 1 website and still get updates?
This all depends on how your WordPress theme’s licensing is managed or administered.
For example if your WordPress theme license key is single use and cannot be activated more than once – you may be able to upload the WordPress theme zip file to more than one website – but you WON’T receive automatic updates for anything other than the first website you installed the theme on.
If you’re wondering why not updating your WordPress theme would be an issue – you should check out our website security guide.
If your WordPress Theme’s License management allows you to activate the theme on more than one site – it’s likely automatic theme updates will work.
Note: Automatic Theme Updates through license activation is different from “auto-updates” in WordPress.
Automatic Theme Updates controlled by licensing means that each time a theme update is available, your website will tell you “there’s a theme update available” but WON’T install the update automatically…
…unless you “enable auto-updates” for the WordPress theme in the WordPress back end under Appearance > Themes (this is “auto-updates” which is a relatively new feature in WordPress)
We DO NOT recommend using auto-updates in WordPress and WooCommerce in particular. Plugin and theme clashes that break your website are common with WordPress – you should read our guide on how to fix issues caused by plugin, theme and WordPress updates without any knowledge of code!
Do I need a 2nd WP Theme license to use my theme on a staging site?
The purpose of a staging site is to allow you to test and push updates and edits to your website without working directly on your “live” site.
This is a sensible approach to prevent loss of service and earnings from things going wrong on your site.
But what about theme licenses for WordPress staging sites?
WordPress theme license restrictions are typically not inclusive of staging site. At the very least using a WordPress theme license on your staging site is within the spirit of theme licensing.