Enable external forwarding in Microsoft 365

Weronika Masternak
5 min read
updated: Nov 29, 2023

When configuring email forwarding in Microsoft 365, you may encounter certain issues. Our goal is to assist you in resolving these challenges. 

In this article, we’ll outline the most frequently encountered issues and provide step-by-step solutions to help you successfully set up email forwarding in Microsoft 365.

If you get one of these statuses:

  • Office 365 Forwarding Not Working
  • Delivery has failed
  • Your organization does not allow external forwarding
  • 550 5.7.520 Access Denied

It means that the forwarding settings may be tied to arrangements at an organizational level — Microsoft requires administrator permission to set up forwarding outside the organization if a company manages your email address.

While email forwarding may be convenient and necessary for HelpDesk to function correctly, it also introduces security concerns related to potential information exposure. Malicious actors could leverage this information to attack your organization or its partners.

That’s why Microsoft 365 offers various types of automatic forwarding options, including:

  1. Users can set up Inbox rules to automatically forward messages to external recipients, either intentionally or as a consequence of a compromised account.
  2. Administrators can configure mailbox or SMTP forwarding to redirect messages to external recipients automatically. The admin can decide whether to forward the messages or retain copies of the forwarded messages within the mailbox.

Learn more about controlling automatic external email forwarding in Microsoft 365.

Set spam filtering policies for Microsoft 365Link icon

You can manage automated forwarding to external recipients through outbound spam filter policies. 

There are three spam filtering settings for the external email forward control:

  1. Automatic (system-controlled). This is the default setting, currently functioning the same as Off. Read additional details on automatic spam filtering.
  2. On. It enables automatic external forwarding without restrictions.
  3. Off. It disables automatic external forwarding, leading to the generation of a non-delivery report (NDR or bounce message) sent to the original sender.

External email forward control using Outbound spam filter policy in Microsoft 365.

Refer to the “Configure outbound spam filtering in EOP” instructions for guidance on configuring these settings.

Disabling automatic forwarding will disable inbox rules created by users or mailbox forwarding created by admins that redirect messages to external addresses.
Disabling automatic forwarding will disable inbox rules created by users or mailbox forwarding created by admins that redirect messages to external addresses.
The settings in outbound spam filter policies don’t impact the automatic forwarding of messages between internal users.
The settings in outbound spam filter policies don’t impact the automatic forwarding of messages between internal users.

Enable automatic external forwarding for all mailboxesLink icon

  1. If you’re an admin of your Microsoft account, sign into the Security & Compliance portal for Microsoft 365.

Security & Compliance portal for Microsoft 365.

If you can’t find these options or if no policies are visible on the page, it indicates that the Microsoft 365 user used to log in doesn’t have the necessary permissions to make changes.

  1. Then, navigate to Email & collaboration > Policies & rules > Threat policies > Anti-spam policies (or go directly to the Anti-spam settings page).
Please be aware that the policies displayed in your admin interface might differ from those depicted here, as the ones shown are the default policies.
Please be aware that the policies displayed in your admin interface might differ from those depicted here, as the ones shown are the default policies.

Anti-spam policies in Microsoft 365.

  1. Select the Anti-spam outbound policy (Default).

Then, access the Edit protection settings at the bottom.

Anti-spam outbound policy in Microsoft 365.

  1. Find the Forwarding Rules section and the Automatic Forwarding Rules drop-down menu.

Open the list and select On to enable forwarding.

Then, click Save at the bottom.

Forwarding rules are on in Microsoft 365.

Read the full article on controlling automatic external email forwarding in Microsoft 365.

Enable automatic external forwarding for individual mailboxesLink icon

  1. If you’re an admin of your Microsoft account, sign into the Security & Compliance portal for Microsoft 365.

Security & Compliance portal for Microsoft 365.

If you can’t find these options or if no policies are visible on the page, it indicates that the Microsoft 365 user used to log in doesn’t have the necessary permissions to make changes.

  1. Then, navigate to Email & collaboration > Policies & rules > Threat policies > Anti-spam policies (or go directly to the Anti-spam settings page).
Please be aware that the policies displayed in your admin interface might differ from those depicted here, as the ones shown are the default policies.
Please be aware that the policies displayed in your admin interface might differ from those depicted here, as the ones shown are the default policies.
  1. Next, click +Create policy and choose Outbound.

Creating a policy in Microsoft 365.

  1. Name and describe your recently created outbound spam filter policy.

Giving the name and description of the policy.

  1. Proceed to the next step, where you can locate the user account authorized for forwarding, specifically the email account designated for forwarding to HelpDesk. 

Once selected, it’ll be visible under the Users field.

Locating the user account authorized for forwarding.

  1. Move to the next step again, scroll to the Forwarding rules section, and access the dropdown menu under Automatic forwarding rules.

Opt for On - Forwarding is enabled, and then proceed to the next stage.

Opting for On - Forwarding is enabled.

  1. Review the configured settings on the final screen, and click the Create button to finalize the creation of your new outbound policy for the designated user.

Reviewing the configured policy settings.

Read the full article on controlling automatic external email forwarding in Microsoft 365.

What if I bought Microsoft 365 from GoDaddy?Link icon

If you obtained Microsoft 365 through GoDaddy, as an admin of your GoDaddy workspace, log into your Email & Office Dashboard, and then please refer to the instructions provided by GoDaddy to adjust your external redirection settings.

Read GoDaddy guidance

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