A 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.

Example bounce-back message

Return-path: <>
Envelope-to: sender@YourDomain.com
Delivery-date: Sat, 13 Oct 2012 04:40:30 -0700
Received: from mailnull by biz32.inmotionhosting.com with local (Exim 4.77)
id 1TN050-0007it-Dw
for sender@YourDomain.com; Sat, 13 Oct 2012 04:40:30 -0700
X-Failed-Recipients: recipient@RemoteDomain.com
Auto-Submitted: auto-replied
From: Mail Delivery System <mailer-daemon@biz32.inmotionhosting.com>
To: sender@YourDomain.com
Subject: Mail delivery failed: returning message to sender
Message-Id: <e1tn050-0007it-dw@biz32.inmotionhosting.com>
Date: Sat, 13 Oct 2012 04:40:30 -0700

This message was created automatically by mail delivery software.
A message that you sent could not be delivered to one or more of its
recipients. This is a permanent error. The following address(es) failed:
 
recipient@RemoteDomain.com
SMTP error from remote mail server after RCPT TO:<recipient@remotedomain.com>:
host mail.RemoteDomain.com [123.123.123.123]: 554 Invalid recipient
 
------ This is a copy of the message, including all the headers. ------
Return-path: <sender@yourdomain.com>
Received: from Admin by biz32.inmotionhosting.com with local (Exim 4.77)
(envelope-from <sender@yourdomain.com>)
id 1TN04y-0007iG-6d
for recipient@RemoteDomain.com; Sat, 13 Oct 2012 04:40:28 -0700
To: Recipient <recipient@remotedomain.com>
X-Autorespond: Comments
MIME-Version: 1.0
X-Loop: Recipient group <recipient@remotedomain.com>
Precedence: auto_reply
X-Precedence: auto_reply
From: "sender" <sender@yourdomain.com>
Subject: Auto Reply: Out of Office
Date: Sat, 13 Oct 2012 04:40:28 -0700

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 <sender@yourdomain.com>: Relay access denied
  • 554 5.7.9 Message not accepted for policy reasons. See http://postmaster.yahoo.com/errors/postmaster-28.html

  • 554 RLY:B1
  • 554 delivery error: dd This user doesn't have a ymail.com 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 http://postmaster.yahoo.com/errors/postmaster-27.html [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 <sender@yourdomain.com>: 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 you can read why does email bounce, bounceback, or error?

In our example bounce-back error above the reason the message has failed is because an auto-reply was trying to be sent to an account that didn't exist. So the RemoteDomain.com mail server responded back with a 554 Invalid recipient error.

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