Email error 554 (Why does Email bounce, bounceback, or error?)

Email error 554

554 email error is sometimes thought of as a catch-all of email errors. It is generally used when there is a generic delivery failure that another email error code doesn't directly define a problem for.

Some mail servers also use a 554 error even if there is a specific error code that defines what went wrong all ready.

You should receive a bounce-back message from the server with a variation of email error 554 in the subject, and the body should contain your original message that you attempted to deliver.

Common variations of the 554 email error

  • 554 5.7.0 Message Size Violation
  • 554 5.7.1 Message blocked due to spam content in the message
  • 554 5.7.1 [P4] Message blocked due to spam content in the message.
  • 554 5.7.1 <>: Relay access denied
  • 554 5.7.9 Message not accepted for policy reasons. See

  • 554 RLY:B1
  • 554 delivery error: dd This user doesn't have a account
  • 554 Denied (Mode: normal)
  • 554 Invalid recipient
  • 554 Malformed mail denied!
  • 554 Message is not RFC compliant; missing "Date" header
  • 554 Message not allowed - [PH01] Email not accepted for policy reasons. Please visit [120]
  • 554 Message permanently rejected
  • 554 Message refused
  • 554 no valid recipients, bye
  • 554 rejected due to spam content
  • 554 rejected due to virus
  • 554 <>: Relay access denied
  • 554 Sorry, no mailbox here by that name.
  • 554 Spam detected
  • 554 Spam violation, the content of your e-mail contains illegal characters, re-sent after examination
  • 554 Transaction Failed Spam Message not queued.554 Virus found, message permanently rejected (#5.3.0)

Resolving a 554 email error bounceback

Because errors in the 554 series don't always bounceback for a common reason, they could be either a hard or soft bounce. To better understand soft and hard bounces, and general email bounceback errors

Why does e-mail bounceback?

If you were trying to send a letter to your friend via normal postal mail (snail mail), here are the steps that would need to be taken:

  • You fill out an envelope with your name and address up at the top-left, and your friend's name and address in the middle.
  • You place this envelope in a local postal drop-off box, or your own mailbox to be picked up.
  • Your envelope gets picked up by your local postal worker and taken to the local sorting facility.
  • Your envelope gets shipped to the remote sorting facility closest to your friend's address.
  • Your envelope gets picked up by the remote postal worker and taken to your friend's house.

An almost identical process is carried out when trying to deliver an email on the Internet:

  • Your email client fills out your name and email address into the From: header fields, and you enter in your friend's name and email address into the To:header fields.
  • You click send in your email client and wait for it to get picked up by the mail server.
  • Your email gets picked up by the email server set in your outgoing mail server settings.
  • Your email attempts to deliver from your email server, to your friends remote e-mail server.
  • Your email gets delivered by your friend's remote mail server into their email Inbox.

In the postal mail world, you'd typically get your envelope returned to you, stamped with return to sender on it. This could happen if either your local postal worker or the one on the remote end can't read your handwriting or the information is invalid.

A similar scenario also plays out in the email world. Mail servers use something called a MTA (Mail Transfer Agent) to handle email deliveries for the server. If you typed in something incorrectly in your friend's email address, or there is a temporary delivery problem with their mail server, that remote MTA will send a bounceback message to you with a specific email error message or error code explaining why the message couldn't be delivered at this time.

Soft bounce

If the friend you're trying to email has an email Inbox quota that has been exceeded, or their mail server is temporarily unavailable, your mail server will still try to deliver the email to their mail server. You would then receive a soft bounce from that remote server letting you know that the message was unable to be delivered, typically along with a specific reason.

A soft bounce is typically a temporary problem and you receive a bounceback message from the receipient's mail server alerting you of the issue so that you can try to send your message again at a later date.

Hard bounce

If you entered in your friend's e-mail address incorrectly and your mail server attempts to deliver the email to another remote server that doesn't handle e-mail for your friend. Then you will get back an almost immediate bounceback error.

A hard bounce can sometimes be a permanent problem, as it is essentially the remote mail server telling you that because the user you tried to e-mail doesn't exist on their server, it's not going to start working at a later time.

Blacklisted Bounce Back Messages

Blacklisting occurs when mail servers are flagged as being sources of spam. This may not necessarily be true, but if you see that your email is being blocked due to the server being blacklisted, then you will need to submit a request to have the server de-listed. To understand more about blacklisting and the action take if this happens

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