Invalid Product Key Error Occurs During Software Activation

Published: 12 Feb 2013
Last Modified Date: 09 Jun 2023


When you try to activate Tableau Server or Tableau Desktop, one of the following errors occur:

Invalid Product Key
Invalid Activation ID
Your Tableau Desktop product key was not recognized.
The product key is not valid for this product.


The product key is invalid. To avoid a mistyped key, copy the product key directly from the Tableau Customer Portal or from your Tableau Invoice. Unspecified exception <exception_number>



  • Tableau Server
  • Tableau Desktop
  • Tableau Prep


Has the license expired?

  • Check the Tableau Customer Portal to determine if the key has expired or been replaced.  When viewing the "Licenses" in the Tableau Customer Portal, is the key found and is the "Period End Date" current or has it expired?  Please Note:  If a product key has expired and not been renewed, it can drop off from the Licenses list.

Was the key entered correctly?

  • Copy the product key directly from Tableau Customer Portal (under "Licenses") or from your invoice.  Be mindful of the following when entering the product key into the activation window:
    • Include the dashes in the product key such as TC12-3456-7890-ABCD-1234
    • Product keys will be a series of 4 letters or numbers followed by a dash for 24 total characters including the dash. No other license types will be accepted by the product.
    • Any key starting with the characters "TD" or "TC" should be activated on Tableau Desktop. 
    • Any key starting with the characters "TS" is to be activated on Tableau Server.  Tableau Server keys have a description in the Customer Portal as a Creator, Explorer, Viewer, Interactor, or Core license type but all start with the letters, "TS" and can only be activated on Tableau Server.  

Key Summary

"TC" is to activate on Prep or Desktop.
"TD" is for Desktop only and a legacy key.
"TS" is for activation on Tableau Server only.



This error can occur for multiple reasons which include:
  • Product key is mistyped
  • Product key is used on the wrong product
  • Product key has expired

If the subscription term has expired, the ability to activate the product has ended.  Please contact your Tableau Account Team for further assistance.


Additional Information


If you are part of the free Tableau Academic program and receiving this error, the ability to sign in to the Tableau Customer Portal is not possible.  Please check the original email sent from the Tableau Academic Team to verify the key is valid or if it has expired. The Academic product key is valid for one year only.  Please request another year of use from the Academic website if the key has expired.

If the key has not expired and you are a student needing additional help, visit and post a question to the Tableau License Community where there are many license experts that can assist with your error.  

Helpful Links

Error "The product key is invalid" Activating Tableau Desktop 10.5 or Older Using Key that Starts with TC

Unable to Activate Tableau Server with a TC Creator Key

Error "The Serial Number is Not a Valid Product Key" when Activating Tableau Server

Managing Tableau Product Keys in the Tableau Customer Portal

To download the Tableau software, visit this page and select product and version.

Video Managing Tableau Desktop and Prep Product Keys
Video Tableau Server Product Key Management
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