550 Relay Not Permitted: How to Get Your Email to Send
The 550 Relay Not Permitted error is one of the most common email client errors that I get asked about and most people have no idea what it means, much less how to fix it. As with most error messages, if you really break down what it actually says you can probably figure out what the problem is.
Let’s start easy with “Not Permitted”, this means “not allowed”. Duh. Only one word left to decipher, “relay”. So, what do we think of when we hear the word “relay”. A race perhaps? Getting warm. A relay race is when a member of a relay team passes off a baton to the next team member once their portion of the race is completed. So if we apply this concept to sending an email, “Relay Not Permitted” basically means you are not allowed to hand off the email to whatever server you are telling your mail client to send it through. In essence, this means you have the outgoing mail server on your email client (or email software) set to the wrong server.
Now I know you’re thinking, “But I followed the exact instructions and settings my email host gave me!”. Yes, you probably did, and they are probably wrong. Many people are not aware that their Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a player in this game and is likely the culprit. Many ISP’s require their users to route outgoing emails (no matter who is providing the email service) through their outgoing mail servers (or SMTP servers). This means that even if your mail provider tells you to set the outgoing server to mail.yourdomain.com, for example, you are likely going to need to change it to smtp.yourispsserver.com instead.
So what is your ISP’s outgoing mail server? Well that’s a job for Google. Usually if you do a search for “SMTP server” with your ISP’s name after it, you’ll find your answer. If you can’t find it on Google, call up your internet service provider and ask them what you need to set your SMTP server to for outgoing email. They should be able to easily help you and tell you if there are any other settings you need to change in your email client while you are at it. Any additional changes besides the server address itself might be the port number of the server, whether or not it requires authentication, and whether or not it needs to send the email using SSL.
Additionally, if your mail client allows it, you may want to keep the original outgoing email settings saved as an alternate outgoing mail server for a laptop. Mostly because once you connect through a different ISP while traveling perhaps, or while at the office instead of at home, you might not be able to send emails again until you figure out the correct SMTP settings for your current location (i.e. the current internet service your computer is connected through, or the original settings your email host gave you).