I use Google Apps to handle email for my personal website, so I have an email address username@ellipsix.net through that, and I also have a Gmail account username@gmail.com. Now, I've been trying to send emails to a particular recipient who shall be known as mail@example.com. When I send the email from my Gmail account with the @gmail.com address, it works fine. However, when I send it from my Google Apps account with the @ellipsix.net address, I get a bounce message which includes the following text:

Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:


Technical details of permanent failure:
Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the recipient domain. We recommend contacting the other email provider for further information about the cause of this error. The error that the other server returned was: 554 554 mail server permanently rejected message (#5.3.0) (state 17).

The bounce message suggests that it is up to the mail administrator of the recipient domain example.com to fix the problem, whatever it is. But I would like to be as sure as possible that nothing needs to be fixed on my end. I already have DKIM signatures enabled for my domain, and I have published an SPF DNS record. Is there something else I should check or do, or can I be confident that it's up to the recipient to fix this issue? Does the "state 17" in the bounce message mean something relevant?

I've included my domain name in the question so people who know more than me about this stuff can independently check the relevant DNS records or other information.

This other question seems similar, but I've already investigated everything suggested in the answers there (except for contacting Google, which I don't want to do unless I suspect it's their issue to fix).

Update: I got a report from allaboutspam.com which shows that by SPF record prevents ellipsix.net from sending email on behalf of ellipsix.net, which seems strange because it's Google's servers (not mine) that are sending email on behalf of my domain; it also shows that my DKIM signature is invalid, which also seems strange because I copied and pasted the DKIM DNS record generated by Google's control panel. I think I have some reading to do...


The bounce message suggests that it is up to the mail administrator of the recipient domain example.com to fix the problem, whatever it is.

No, that's not what it suggests at all. It suggests you contact that admin to find out why their system rejected the email. There may be no problem to rectify on their end.

Example 1: Some systems have rigid rules about who may send emails to them. If your sender address isn't on an approved list such a system will reject the message.

Example 2: Some systems will reject messages if the spam score is too high and because you do not know how tight their spam filtering is or on what basis it allocates scores you cannot know how your message scored.

Either of those possibilities, amongst others, may or may not be the case here but unless you do as the bounce suggested and contact the administrator you'll never know.

  • Ah, I should read more carefully. I will try to look into this. – David Z Oct 11 '12 at 0:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.