007's Licence to Kill (The document, not the movie)

A James Bond question. (du-freakin-uh.)

007 is described as having a “license to kill”…I’m just wondering if it’s a figure of speech, referring to Bond’s duties and powers as a 00 agent, or is he supposed to have an actual “killing license” (presumably signed by the queen) stashed away in a drawer, somewhere?

I always thought it was figurative. His license to kill just means he’s free to use lethal force when he thinks it’s necessary.


The books were fairly clear that this wasn’t an actual framed document, or a little card he carried with him to show the police. It was a privilege or job responsibility, and it meant that the British Government would do their best to wriggle him out of trouble if he got caught by some police force somewhere. He wasn’t supposed to kill within the UK, IIRC, but he was usually in some country whose secret service co-operated with the British secret service – like Jamaica or the U.S., say – so that he didn’t have police interference if he murdered bad guys. Or, if he did, the secret service or CIA or FBI could get him out of it, quick and easy, no questions asked.

Drat you for giving such a clear and expert answer four minutes before I would have! :smiley:

Drat you both for your answers before my morning coffee has kicked in! :stuck_out_tongue:

Well, you certainly wouldn’t leave it “stashed away in a drawer”. There you are with a Walther PPK in your hand, standing over the rapidly cooling corpse of the Bulgarian “cultural attache” with a .32 inch hole in his forehead, explaining to the police, “Why, yes, officer, I do have a licence to kill…Oh dear me, I must have left it in my other pants”.

And you do know how fond James is of getting into all sorts of pants…it could be anywhere!