Extended SMTP

Extended SMTP (ESMTP), sometimes referred to as Enhanced SMTP, is a definition of protocol extensions to the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol standard. The extension format was defined in November 1995 in IETF publication RFC 1869 which established a general structure for all existing and future extensions.

ESMTP defines consistent and manageable means by which ESMTP clients and servers can be identified and servers can indicate supported extensions.


ESMTP is a protocol used to transport internet mail. It is used as both an inter-server transport protocol and (with restricted behavior enforced) a mail submission protocol.

The main identification feature for ESMTP clients is to open a transmission with the command EHLO (Extended HELLO), rather than HELO (Hello, the original RFC 821 standard). A server will respond with success (code 250), failure (code 550) or error (code 500, 501, 502, 504, or 421), depending on its configuration. An ESMTP server returns the code 250 OK in a multi-line reply with its domain and a list of keywords to indicate supported extensions. A RFC 821 compliant server returns error code 500, allowing ESMTP clients to try either HELO or QUIT.

Each service extension is defined in an approved format in subsequent RFCs and registered with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). The first definitions were the RFC 821 optional services - SEND, SOML (Send or Mail), SAML (Send and Mail), EXPN, HELP, and TURN. The format of additional SMTP verbs was set and for new parameters in MAIL and RCPT.

Some relatively common keywords (not all of them corresponding to commands) used today are:

The ESMTP format was restated in RFC 2821 (superseding RFC 821) and updated to the latest definition in RFC 5321 in 2008. Support for the EHLO command in servers became mandatory, and HELO designated a required fallback.

Non-standard, unregistered, service extensions can be used by bilateral agreement, these services are indicated by an EHLO message keyword starting with "X", and with any additional parameters or verbs similarly marked.

SMTP commands are case-insensitive. They are presented here in capitalized form for emphasis only. An SMTP server that requires a specific capitalization method is a violation of the standard.

List of supporting servers


The 8BITMIME extension was standardized in 1994.[2] It facilitates the transparent exchange of e-mail messages containing octets outside the seven-bit ASCII character set. Prior to the availability of 8BITMIME implementations, mail user agents employed several techniques to cope with the seven-bit limitation, such as binary-to-text encodings (including ones provided by MIME) and UTF-7. However, each of these workarounds inflates the required amount of data for transmission of non-ASCII text. Some non-ESMTP servers allowed the sending of 8-bit characters, but it is risky to send such data to a server whose 8-bit capabilities are unknown.

In March 2011, 8BITMIME was published as RFC 6152 corresponding to the then new STD 71.

List of supporting servers

At least the following servers advertise the 8BITMIME extension:

The following servers can be configured to advertise 8BITMIME, but do not perform conversion of 8-bit data to 7-bit when connecting to non-8BITMIME relays:

As of June 2005, the following servers do not implement the extension:


Remote Message Queue Starting is a feature of SMTP that permits a remote host to start processing of the mail queue on a server so it may receive messages destined to it by sending the TURN command. This feature however was deemed insecure[7] and was extended in ESMTP with the ETRN command which operates more securely using an authentication method based on Domain Name System information.


Main article: SMTP Authentication

The SMTP-AUTH extension provides an access control mechanism. It consists of an authentication step through which the client effectively logs in to the mail server during the process of sending mail. Servers that support SMTP-AUTH can usually be configured to require clients to use this extension, ensuring the true identity of the sender is known. The SMTP-AUTH extension is defined in RFC 4954.

SMTP-AUTH can be used to allow legitimate users to relay mail while denying relay service to unauthorized users, such as spammers. It does not necessarily guarantee the authenticity of either the SMTP envelope sender or the RFC 2822 "From:" header. For example, spoofing, in which one sender masquerades as someone else, is still possible with SMTP-AUTH unless the server is configured to limit message from-addresses to addresses this AUTHed user is authorized for.

The SMTP-AUTH extension also allows one mail server to indicate to another that the sender has been authenticated when relaying mail. In general this requires the recipient server to trust the sending server, meaning that this aspect of SMTP-AUTH is rarely used on the Internet.


The SMTPUTF8 extension allows UTF-8 encoding in mailbox names and header fields. This provides the capability for sending email to internationalized addresses such as Pelé@example.com, δοκιμή@παράδειγμα.δοκιμή, and 测试@测试.测试. This extension was added in 2012 by RFC 6531, but is not yet widely supported.

List of supporting servers

List of supporting local servers

Local delivery servers (LMTP)

List of supporting clients

List of supporting content filters

See also


  1. "SMTP Service Extension Parameters". IANA. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  2. RFC 1653 - SMTP Service Extension for Message Size Declaration. Tools.ietf.org. Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
  3. James Server - ChangeLog. James.apache.org. Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
  4. 8BITMIME service advertised in response to EHLO on gmail-smtp-in.l.google.com port 25, checked 23 November 2011
  5. Qmail bugs and wishlist. Home.pages.de. Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
  6. The 8BITMIME extension. Cr.yp.to. Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
  7. RFC 1985, SMTP Service Extension for Remote Message Queue Starting, J. De Winter, The Internet Society (August 1996)
  8. "Postfix SMTPUTF8 support is enabled by default", February 8, 2015, postfix.org
  9. "Message Systems Introduces Latest Version Of Momentum With New API-Driven Capabilities" (Press release).
  10. Amavis 2.10.0 released

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/1/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.