Adding External Contacts to a Distribution Group – Office 365

First, use this post to add the External Contacts. Adding Exteral Contacts to Exchange Online

If you need to create the Distribution List, use this post Creating a Distribution Group in Office 365 – Exchange Online

Follow the steps below to add the external contact to a Distribution Group.

Login to the Office 365 Admin Center

Click the App Launcher (top left corner)

Click Admin

Open Exchange Admin Center

Click Recipients

Click Groups

Select the Distribution Group

Click the Edit Pencil (A new window will open)

Select Membership

Click (A new window will open)

Double click the contact or select the external contact and click add ->

Click OK

The contact will now be in the list of members

Click Save

Thanks for visiting and reading my posts. I am always looking for more ideas. Please comment or email me with what you would like to see.

Kelsey Epps

Office 365 MVP

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29 thoughts on “Adding External Contacts to a Distribution Group – Office 365

  1. Kevin Reid

    Excellent! Your instructions and links were easy to follow. Many Thanks! The solution I was looking for was how to create an distribution group (list) from external e-mails and you provided it. Thanks again.

    1. Kelsey EppsKelsey Epps Post author

      You’re welcome. Let me know if there is anything else you are looking for. I am always looking for BLOG post ideas.

      1. Steven M Wills

        This only works for mail sent internally. If an external user sends mail to the dist group it will not deliver.

  2. Gene H

    I am searching for how to add external contacts to a distribution list already created from internal contacts, any suggestions?

  3. Jen Meklenburg

    I need to make a DL from external contacts, but I don’t want the external contacts to show up in our GAL. Is this possible?

  4. Jeff

    I would like to setup a Distribution group of external contacts that consist of our customer contacts. Once created, I would like our sales team and only our sales team to be able to do adds/changes/deletes to the members of this group. Is that possible, or is it only an admin function>

  5. John Braun

    Hi Kelsey,

    What settings are required to allow for an external email to send an email to your internal Outlook distribution list? I know that in earlier exchange server versions you would need to do the following below, thanks for any help!:

    The feature is controlled by the “Require that all senders are authenticated” check box.

    In Exchange 2010:
    Exchange Management Console -> Microsoft Exchange On-Premises -> Recipient Configuration -> Distribution Group -> [Select a distribution group] -> Right click, properties -> Message Delivery Restrictions -> Uncheck “Require that all senders are authenticated”.

    1. Kelsey EppsKelsey Epps Post author

      Once the Distribution group is created, then edit the properties.

      Delivery Management -> Senders Inside and Outside my Organization

  6. jack

    Is there a way to do this in bulk? I have a school and each grade has a list of parents that need to be emailed. Each grade has 30-40 email addresses to add — 9 grades.

    The O365 interface is about as slow as it gets for adding this kind of info. How can I add external email addresses in bulk and then assign them to a list in bulk?

  7. Dan

    I am trying to create a dynamic distribution group for the external users my sales team is inviting to our Sharepoint site. We have about 500 and there is regular changes to it. It appears that I would need to make the users into contacts first and then group them. Is this true, and is there a way to make it automated?

  8. Joseph DeCaria

    I followed the instructions for setting up external contacts, but when I try to add the new members to the group I still see only the internal users, the external contacts I added don’t show up when I try to add members to the list.

  9. Randy


    I have DG’s setup with multiple outside users that are not part of our company. My problem I keep having is when sends out a email to the DG they get a bounce back regarding spam due to the SPF records. We are using a hosted exchange through Microsoft so when the email is sent to the DG it acts as a forwarding email and gets flagged for SPF violations. Is there a easy way to resolve this on our end?




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