Adding External Contacts to Exchange Online

This topic seems to creep up all the time and it’s rather simple to accomplish. All you need is some basic information on the contact, add it to Exchange Online and then it will be available to all users.

Login to the Office 365 Admin Center

Click the App Launcher (top left corner)

Click Admin

Open Exchange Admin Center

Click Recipients (1)

Click Contacts (2)

Click + (3)

Click Mail Contact (4) (a new window will pop open)

Enter First Name (5)

Enter Last Name (6)

Enter Display Name (7) (this is how it will be displayed in the GAL)

Enter an Alias (8)

Enter the Email Address (9)

Click Save (10)

The external contact is now added to Office 365 and viewable by all users of the GAL

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

Email Me Follow me on Twitter Connect with me on LinkedIN Facebook Me

11 thoughts on “Adding External Contacts to Exchange Online

  1. Isaac Klinger

    Thanks for this post. It does help if you are an admin. But what if the owner of the distribution list isn’t an admin. How would they enter in external email addresses to a distribution list or exchange online.

    1. Kelsey EppsKelsey Epps Post author

      They need to be an owner or admin in order to make changes. This is the same for on-prem and cloud.

    2. Milady

      I second this post. Working for an organization with almost 300,000 employees and numerous external vendors, relying on an “admin” to add every single external address to our network is highly inefficient. I guarantee 95% of the employee base wouldn’t even know who our “admin” is to request such a small change. Back to the old Copy & Paste method, I suppose.

      Thanks for the article, though! I did get the answer to my question: I can’t add an external email address. Better to know that I can’t than to continue wondering whether if it was possible.

      Have a nice day!

      1. Kelsey EppsKelsey Epps Post author

        Generally this is done with an import of a file into the GAL for on-prem. The same can be done in EXO.

    1. Kelsey EppsKelsey Epps Post author

      I believe that it’s 1000 on the E plans and 50 on the P plans. I also think a service request can up this on the E plan.

  2. Catherine

    Is it possible to create a contact group of external email addresses, so that internal staff can email the group with ease? Many thanks

    1. Kelsey EppsKelsey Epps Post author

      Yes, it’s called a Distribution Group. I have a post on it. The group can have internal and external people in it.


Leave a Reply