The Canva Pro License Explained – Here’s How Canva Pro Content Works!

www.canva.com homepage

Do you love Canva.com’s user-friendly editor and high-res images, but you’re confused about how they work, license-wise? If so, you’re not alone. 

Despite being a very appealing service for DIY creatives, small businesses, and nonprofits, Canva’s terms for using content can be a bit complex to tackle for the non-expert. 

That’s why today we are breaking down the Canva Pro license, explaining exactly what all these terms mean.

Read on!

First Things First: Main Considerations on Canva Licensing

DISCLAIMER: We are not Canva representatives, attorneys, or legal advisors. The information provided in this article is for informative purposes only. In order to confirm coverage of intended use or clarify other points in Canva licensing, always contact the company directly.

These are the basics of how Canva Pro licensing works, and how we went about our breakdown of it.

Canva’s Multiple License Agreements

Canva has different license contracts depending on whether the content –photos, illustrations, design elements, etc.– is free or paid

Canva Pro Free Trial 45 Days Temporary Header > The Canva Pro License Explained - Here’s How Canva Pro Content Works!

Free Content can come with different licenses: 

  • Pixabay (free photo site acquired by Canva)
  • Pexels (same as above)
  • CC0 (Creative Commons Zero)
  • Canva Free Content License (proprietary license)

While all similar in concept, each of these agreements has its own stipulations. 

Premium content comes with Canva Pro License, whether you acquire it on-demand, or through a Canva Pro subscription.

We Focus on the Canva Pro Content License 

This is by far the most complete and safe –and thus, convenient– of all the available licenses, for graphic design for commercial use.

It’s the license that comes with any premium content you download from Canva (photos, illustrations, graphics, icons, videos, templates). Be it on a pay-as-you-go basis, or with a Canva Pro account/Canva Pro subscription –which by the way, you should definitely check out our Canva Pro review as it's a service packed with features for busy creatives, like the brand kits, the magic resize tool and even a publishing assistant!

If you wish to know how many users Canva Pro has, and more metrics, check our Canva stats report!

Canva Pro Free Trial 45 Days Temporary Header > The Canva Pro License Explained - Here’s How Canva Pro Content Works!

This is the license you need to be safe when using Canva content in marketing materials and other commercial-oriented designs. 

When Your Design Includes Free Images and Pro Content, the Pro License Applies

This is why is so important to understand how it works. 

The Canva Pro License 

Now, let’s explain how Canva licensing works, point by point.

Click here to read Canva's content license agreement in full:

295DC0CE 4AFE 4ED4 AAAA BF31D59AB3E9 > The Canva Pro License Explained - Here’s How Canva Pro Content Works!

One Design Use License

This is one of the most important and distinctive aspects of the Canva Pro License. While most royalty-free licenses let you use the image in as many designs as you want, Canva limits it to one design per license. 

This means if you want to use the re-use a Canva stock photo in a new design, you need to license it again. 

Also important: small changes to a design, such as using the Magic Resize feature to change its dimensions, is considered a separate design and thus, requires a new license. 

You acquire a license for an image (or any other Canva media content) every time you download it/export it from their site. 

If you are a free user, you must pay every time you download a design that includes Canva Pro content. If you have a Canva subscription (to Canva Pro), all downloads/licenses you make are included in your plan. 

Individual, Instransferable, Perpetual

Besides the one-design-use restriction, the Canva Pro agreement is fairly flexible, as the license is valid forever without having to ever pay another penny (for that specific design). Keep in mind, though, that it’s an individual license that covers only your (or your company’s) usage, and that you absolutely cannot transfer said license to anyone. 

Client Use: One Client Only

Maybe you read the previous point and were ready to ditch Canva because you do client work and that means you need to transfer the design to your client. Well, good news: that is totally permitted. 

The Canva license says you are allowed to give a design containing Canva Pro images to your client, as long as: 

  • You have a contract in place with your client that establishes the Canva design is for their use only
  • You are responsible for your client’s use of the Canva content
  • You only cede the design to one client (not to multiple clients)

So, Canva is good to go for using stock photos in client work.

Do’s of Canva Pro Content

Let’s now talk about all the things you can do with Canva images in derivative work (which can also be Canva designs created on their platform).

Print Designs

With the Canva license, you can create all kinds of printed materials. For marketing and promotion, such as advertising materials, invitations, stationery, product packaging, catalogs, brochures, greeting cards, postcards, and posters without reproduction limitations. 

You may also print entertainment content, such as books and book covers, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and editorials.

What is interesting in this license, is that it allows producing printed materials for resale –like postcards, prints, or posters–, which is usually only available with an Extended license at most other image banks. Here, the Standard Canva Pro license covers it! See differences between Standard vs Extended license for more details on this.

Note: If you are a large company and/or have a large creative team, you may want to check out the benefits of Canva for Enterprise service.

Social Media & Entertainment Applications

You may use Canva images for your social media posts or profile pictures, as well as for digital entertainment purposes: eBooks, newspapers, magazines, editorials, newsletters, and video, broadcast, and theatrical presentations, even design templates to use in Canva, with no reproduction limits.

School & University Projects

Canva content is good to use in all the permitted ways, for educational purposes such as your school and university projects. There even is special services and plans in Canva for Education.

Are you a student? You will want to check out our stock photo guidelines for students and universities.

Online/Electronic Publications (Pixel Count Restriction)

One important thing to keep in mind is that when it comes to digital content to be published online (in web pages, blogs, eBooks, and videos), the Canva license establishes a limitation regarding image quality and size: the image cannot be larger than 480,000 total pixels –for example, a 600 x 800 px image– if it’s unedited (meaning, looks just as it appears on Canva’s library). 

There are two exceptions to this. You don’t have to worry about pixel count restriction if the image is: 

-Published via the dedicated Canva Website publish endpoint, or 

-Part of a Canva-made design to be used on a third-party site

Don’ts of The Canva License

Now, let’s review the prohibited uses, things you cannot and should never do with the Canva pictures. 

Never Transfer the License to Anyone Else

The Canva Pro license –as most stock media licenses– is nontransferable. This means it is issued under your name, and for your use only. You cannot give the license –and thus, the photo– to someone else for them to use as their own. And, of course, you cannot sell nor sub-let the license either.

Finally, you cannot make the images, as you download them, available for download or to buy on an on-demand basis, either. 

You Cannot Use Canva Content for Trademarked Materials

With the only exception of fonts, you cannot trade-mark any content from Canva or designs created with it. This is because you do not have copyright ownership of any materials downloaded from Canva. 

Print On Demand (and Services Related to It) Are Prohibited

You are not allowed to display the content from Canva as standalone, on websites or other mediums related to print-on-demand services and products (be it for actual sales or for promotion of such services), including postcards, mugs, t-shirts, posters and other items.

You Must Not Pretend to Own the Images

It is forbidden to erase the copyright disclaimer included with the Canva designs, as well as to use photos for editorial purposes without properly crediting the contributor (the artist that created the image) and Canva. In the same way, you cannot use the photos in any way that implies you created them from scratch and/or are the copyright owner. 

Editorial Content Cannot be used for Commercial Purposes

Some images on Canva are marked as “Editorial Use Only”. These are usually images deemed newsworthy or of general interest to the public. These pictures cannot be used for marketing, promotion, or any other commercial purpose, only for editorial (informative, educational) projects. More info on editorial licensing, here.

There is a Sensitive Use Clause

And it’s rather relevant. According to the licensing terms, you cannot use Canva photos in a way that depicts the people portrayed in a bad light, or in any way threatens the reputation of the models or the artist that created it. Like this, topics like pornography, adult services, dating services, tobacco products, political endorsement, etc. are banned. As well as those that could be defamatory, such as concepts related to crime, violence or other unlawful or immoral activities. 

For more info on this, check our dedicated guide to Sensitive Use of stock imagery.

The Canva Pro License is Very Complete 

That’s what can be concluded from this overview. The Canva Pro license covers all bases for most creative needs, from personal to commercial, from print to digital. It’s very flexible and has very few restrictions that are also relatively easy to comply with. 

This, paired with the conveniently cheap prices for Canva Pro memberships (with unlimited downloads!) makes it a very good option to design visuals with stock images. 

Canva Pro Free Trial 45 Days Temporary Header > The Canva Pro License Explained - Here’s How Canva Pro Content Works!

Do you have a question about the Canva license we have not addressed here? Ask in the comments, we’ll be happy to clear it out for you!

Ivanna Attié

Ivanna Attié

I am Content Manager, Researcher, and Author in StockPhotoSecrets.com and Stock Photo Press and its many stock media-oriented publications. I am a passionate communicator with a love for visual imagery and an inexhaustible thirst for knowledge. Lucky enough to enter the wonderful world of stock photography working side-by-side with experienced experts, I am happy to share my research, insights, and advice about image licensing, stock photography offers, and the stock media industry with everyone in the creative community. My background is in Communication and Journalism, and I also love literature and performing arts.

16 Comments
  1. Hi Ivanna, thank you for the detailed piece. It’s very helpful. What if I create an image with several different stock photos? The pixel limit for online publication doesn’t apply then, right?

    • Hi Anjali, we are not Canva representatives so my answer is for orientation only, you will need to contact Canva directly to verify this and I advise you to do so. But to answer your question, the pixel count limit in online publications refers specifically to unedited images, that is, using a photo exactly as it was downloaded from Canva. If you create a design in Canva using several stock images, that would imply the images have been edited by you, and thus the pixel count limitation would not apply. Even if you use only one image, as long as it’s been edited/customized, that limitation is removed. Hope this helps!

  2. Hi, I have a question on how to access the liscense its self? I need it to be able to repot a page using my content illegally.

  3. Hi! There’s confusion about the Canva pro license in a facebook group I am in for folks who develop downloadable content for commercial use (like Etsy). Can you comment on the section under prohibited use that says: use or display the Content in an electronic format that enables it to be downloaded, exported or distributed via mobile devices or shared in any peer-to-peer or similar file sharing arrangement. Thanks!

    • Hi Jeanne, we are not Canva and we don’t represent them so I strongly advise you to verify this with Canva directly. But, for information purposes only and from our interpretation of their license, that point you mention refers to the images as standalone (this is, just the stock photo/stock graphic element from Canva library), not to a design created using Canva/Canva elements. You cannot ever make a stock photo obtained through Canva available for others to download or share as is. I don’t have the particulars about whether you can sell designs containing Canva content on Etsy (this you will need to check with Canva directly, as I mentioned), but as far as I understand you can use the Canva editor to create designs for sale. Hope this helps a bit!

  4. Can I use an unaltered, standalone image as a social media post if I have the Canva Pro account? Or does there HAVE to be some sort of design element included for the license to be valid?

    • Hi Nicole. That is a very good question. All images you use have to be part of a design made with Canva, the license doesn’t allow standalone uses of images.
      Do keep in mind, that a design doesn’t have to have a lot of design elements – even adding a filter or a small logo, a colorful border, etc., would suffice. As long as you created it on the Canva Editor and exported it/published it from there, you will be covered.
      Disclaimer: We are not Canva representatives or lawyers, this answer is for information only. We encourage you to contact Canva directly to verify the info.
      Hope this helps!

  5. Has this been updated to reflect the new TOS effective July 18, 2022? Thanks!

  6. Can the stock videos from Canva be used for a monetized YouTube channel?

    • Hi there, I always recommend asking this to Canva directly. But when I checked their license, I think you can use it to monetize the video on Youtube. You might want to check the audio or music used; there are some limitations where (which you can find in their license written).

  7. If i am using a canva pro photo on an ebook and print cover and i cancel my canva pro subscription do i need to stop selling the ebook or print copy?

    • Hi Lisa, the Canva Pro license is perpetual, this means the license for photos you downloaded and used in a design while your plan was still active, is still valid even after your plan ends. You may continue using those photos in your ebook and print copies according to the license agreement terms, just remember three things:
      1. You cannot use those photos in any new designs. To do that, you would need to re-download the images from Canva directly (and pay for them again).
      2. If you are using the images as stand-alone in the ebook, the pixel count limitation from Canva’s terms still applies.
      3. Any images you downloaded within your plan but did not use in a design at the time of cancellation of your subscription, are voided. You cannot use those images if your plan is not active, and you must delete the files.

      Hope this helps!

  8. Hi, thanks so much for this article. As a Canva Pro user, I want to sell digital prints but I’m not sure what suffices as a non-standalone design. What needs to be changed so that I’m safe in selling them?

    • Hi Kait, as we are not Canva representatives, my best advice is for you to contact Canva directly and verify this with them. But, from the best of my knowledge, the only way to legally use Canva content (Pro or free) is to download a design from the image editor. As long as you select an image, put it on the editor’s canvas, and perform any kind of edits on it (be it cropping, adding a filter, or text, etc.), and then export it using the download button, this should constitute a Canva design and comply with the license terms. Again, please check with Canva directly to make sure you’re in the clear with your intended use.
      Hope this helps!

Leave a reply

Stock Photo Secrets
Logo