office 365 - forward email to external address without creating a new user


I need to forward emails to an email address outside my domain.

The problem I am facing is that I dont want to create a user to be able to achieve this. In some other words, if you are used to cpanel you simply create a mail forwarder to an email address.

The mailbox does not exist & simply forward

This tutorial (
nearly nailed it except that you need to have an existing users to be able to forward the mail.

How can I achieve what I am trying to do?

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VB ITSSpecialist ConsultantCommented:
Are you trying to do this for a single email address on your domain? If so, is there a particular reason as to why you don't want to create a mailbox? If it's a licensing issue you can simply create a Shared Mailbox and forward emails from this mailbox as you do not need to assign a license to shared mailboxes.

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defreyAuthor Commented:

They are many cases where a customer requires mail to be forwarded to an email address outside the domain.

Because the email "job" is only to forward, there is no need to create a mailbox

I will try with the share mailbox & see how it goes
VB ITSSpecialist ConsultantCommented:
In that case you can look at setting up a Distribution Group along with a Shared Contact (with your external address), then add the Shared Contact to this new group.

Here are the instructions to set up a distribution group in Office 365:

Here are the instructions to create a Shared Contact then add it to a Distribution Group in Office 365:
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defreyAuthor Commented:
Hi VB,

I think that your last post is a bit of subject, sorry!

Surely it must be a way  to forward to an external address, I believe that a distribution group has its purposes & forwarding is not one of them

Have you read that one:

This is the closest to what I am trying to achieve

VB ITSSpecialist ConsultantCommented:
Hi defrey,

I believe using a Distribution Group will achieve exactly what you want to do here as it doesn't create a mailbox in Office 365 and will also allow you to forward to your external address. There are plenty of admins out there who use this method for this type of scenario (myself included). Either way, glad I could help!
defreyAuthor Commented:
The Shared mailbox works & make more sense to me. I see distribution groups a target for more than one person.

VB ITSSpecialist ConsultantCommented:
Yep all good, same result either way!
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
simply create an outlook rule to forward the mail to an address the address can be in your contacts or not .. It doesn't matter if the address is internal or external.
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