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SMTP 521 Reply Code (RFC1846) Disclosure Number: IPCOM000004102D
Original Publication Date: 1995-Sep-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2019-Feb-12
Document File: 4 page(s) / 5K

Publishing Venue

Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)

Related People

A. Durand: AUTHOR [+1]

Related Documents

10.17487/RFC1846: DOI

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 54% of the total text.

Network Working Group A. Durand Request For Comments: 1846 IMAG Category: Experimental F. Dupont INRIA Rocquencourt September 1995

SMTP 521 Reply Code

Status of this Memo

This memo defines an Experimental Protocol for the Internet community. This memo does not specify an Internet standard of any kind. Discussion and suggestions for improvement are requested. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.


This memo defines a new Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) [1] reply code, 521, which one may use to indicate that an Internet host does not accept incoming mail.

1. Motivations

Hosts on the Internet have shifted from large, general-purpose hosts to smaller, more specialized hosts. There is an increasing number of hosts which are dedicated to specific tasks, such as serving NTP or DNS. These dedicated hosts frequently do not provide mail service.

Usually, these mailless hosts do not run an SMTP server. Unfortunately, users will occasionally misaddress mail to these hosts. Regular SMTP clients attempting to deliver this misaddressed mail must treat the lack of an SMTP server on the host as a temporary error. They must queue the mail for later delivery, should an SMTP server be started at a later time.

This causes the mail to remain queued for days, until it is returned with what is usually a confusing error message.

2. Two complementary solutions

Two complementary solutions MAY be implemented to deal with this issue. The first one is to use MX relays to bounce misaddressed mails. The second one is to implement a minimal smtp server on the mailless host to bounce all mails.

The choice between the two solutions is site dependent.

Durand & Dupont Experimental [Page 1]

RFC 1846 SMTP 521 Reply Code September 1995

3. The MX relays solution

MX relays may be used to indicate SMTP clients that an Internet host does not accept mail.

During the SMTP dialog, these MX relays MAY bounce any message destinated to this particular host with an SMTP 521 reply code.

SMTP dialog example:

---> 220 ready <--- HELO ---> 250 Hello <--- MAIL FROM: <> ---> 250 <>... Sender Ok <--- RCPT TO: <> ---> 521 does not accept mail <--- QUIT ---> 221 closing connection

If an MX relay of precedence n for a mailless host bounces mails on its behalf, then any other MX relay of precedence lower than n for this mailless host SHOULD do the same.

4. The SMTP server solution

4.1 521 greeting

A host may indicate that it does not accept mail by sending an initial 521 "Host does not accept mail" reply to an incoming SMTP connection. The official name of the server host or its IP address MUST be sent as the first word following the reply code.

For example: 521 does not accept mail

4.2 SMTP dialog

After issuing the initial 521 reply, the server host MUST do one of the following two options:

a) Close the SMTP connection. b) R...