Internet Draft
Category: Experimental                                   Mark Lentczner
draft-mengwong-spf-01.txt                     Meng Weng Wong,
Expires: September 2004                                        May 2004

                     Sender Policy Framework (SPF)
     A Convention to Describe Hosts Authorized to Send SMTP Traffic

Status of this Memo

   This document is an Internet-Draft and is subject to all provisions
   of Section 10 of RFC2026.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups.  Note that
   other groups may also distribute working documents as

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six
   months and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other
   documents at any time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-
   Drafts as reference material or to cite them other than as
   "work in progress."

   The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at

   The list of Internet-Draft Shadow Directories can be accessed at

   This Internet-Draft will expire in September 2004.


   Email address forgery is a problem on the Internet today.  Domain
   owners want to control the use of their names in email, but are
   helpless because they lack the means.  This document introduces a
   language for domains to make email-related declarations in DNS.  It
   defines in detail one possible sender authentication scheme for
   domains to describe the hosts from which they send mail.  SMTP
   receivers can use this scheme to detect sender forgery.

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Table of Contents

   1. Introduction
      1.1 Terminology
      1.2 Designated Senders
   2. SPF Records
      2.1 Publishing
      2.2 Interpretation
         2.2.1 Subject of SPF testing
         2.2.2 Lookup
   3. SPF Record Evaluation
      3.1 Matching Version
      3.2 SPF Directive Evaluation
      3.3 Default result
   4. Mechanism Definitions
      4.1 "all"
      4.2 "include"
      4.3 Introducing Designated Sender Mechanisms
      4.4 "a"
      4.5 "mx"
      4.6 "ptr"
      4.7 "ip4" and "ip6"
      4.8 "exists"
   5. Modifier Definitions
      5.1 redirect: Redirected Query
      5.2 exp: Explanation
      5.3 accredit: Sender Accreditation
   6. Miscellaneous
      6.1 Unrecognized Mechanisms and Modifiers
      6.2 Processing Limits
      6.3 The Received-SPF header
   7. Macros
      7.1 Macro definitions
      7.2 Expansion Examples
   8. Conformance Definitions
      8.1 Introduction
      8.2 Conformance with regard to sender domains
      8.3 Conformance with regard to sending e-mail systems
      8.4 Conformance with regard to receiving e-mail systems
      8.5 Conformance with regard to a particular SMTP transaction
      8.6 Conformance with regard to an email-sending user
      8.7 Rejection of non-SPF conformant email
      8.8 Rejection of SPF conformant email
      8.9 Recommendations
      8.10 Changes to Existing Semantics
         8.10.1 The Return-Path is now also a Responsible Sender
   9. Applicability Statement
      9.1 Adoption by disreputable domains

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      9.2 Limitations
      9.3 Phased Rollout
      9.4 Verbatim Forwarding
      9.5 Per-user exemptions
   10. Security Considerations
   11. IANA Considerations
   12. Contributors and Acknowledgements
   Appendix A. Collected ABNF for SPF records
   Appendix B. Extended Examples
   Appendix B.1 Simple Example
   Appendix B.2 Multiple Domain Examples
   Appendix B.3 RBL Style Example
   Normative References
   Informative References

1. Introduction

   The intended audience for this document includes administrators of
   the Domain Name System and developers of Mail Transfer Agents (MTAs),
   Mail Delivery Agents (MDAs), and Mail User Agents (MUAs).  They are
   assumed to be familiar with the workings of SMTP and DNS.  See
   [RFC2821] and [RFC1034].

   Forgery of domain names is a problem.  Malicious entities often
   falsify envelope and header addresses to make it harder to identify
   the source of a message.  When those addresses correspond to real
   people and organizations, the victims of forgery suffer a cost in
   bounce messages, tarnished reputations, and misdirected abuse

   SPF is designed to fight email address forgery.  It does this by
   establishing a policy framework and an authentication scheme.

   SPF defines a simple language.  Domains can use that language to
   describe the mail they send.  SMTP receivers can use these
   descriptions to evaluate messages.

   SPF can implement a sender authentication scheme.  In a sender
   authentication scheme, a domain owner asserts that legitimate
   messages from that domain must meet certain criteria.  Messages which
   do not meet the criteria are not legitimate.  These assertions are
   made in machine-readable form.

   SPF defines a specific sender authentication scheme based on the
   designated sender model.  A domain identifies certain hosts as

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   designated senders.  Mail from those hosts is considered legitimate.
   Mail from other hosts is not.

   SPF publishes policy data in the DNS.  DNS resolvers can cache SPF
   data.  Caching reduces lookup traffic.  Sender domains do not have to
   run new servers to advertise SPF information.

   SPF is extensible.  Multiple mechanisms can be defined.  While other
   sender authentication schemes can be expressed in SPF, the rest of
   this document defines a designated sender scheme in detail.

1.1 Terminology

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   this document are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119].

   An SMTP client sends mail to an SMTP server.  The SMTP server and
   downstream systems comprise the SMTP receiver.  The SMTP receiver
   acts as an SPF client to an SPF publisher domain.

   SPF processing may occur as early as the MAIL FROM stage of an SMTP
   transaction or as late as the display stage in a Mail-User Agent.
   For convenience, SMTP servers which accept, classify, discard, or
   reject mail on the basis of SPF tests may be said to be speaking

1.2 Designated Senders

   Designated sender schemes are weaker than cryptographic schemes but
   provide more assurance than the current SMTP model.

   SPF defines a set of mechanisms which add up to a designated sender
   scheme.  First, domain owners designate legitimate outbound mail
   servers in a compact, symbolic notation.  SMTP receivers may query
   sender domains using these mechanisms and decide the validity of a
   given SMTP transaction while that transaction is ongoing, even before
   any message data is passed.  Alternatively, SPF tests can be
   performed after SMTP time by an MDA or MUA.  MTAs, MDAs, and MUAs may
   choose to accept, classify, discard, or reject messages based on the
   result of an SPF test.

   SPF can be used to verify the sender of a message based on envelope
   information available at SMTP time or according to the headers after
   an SMTP transaction has completed.

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2. SPF Records

   Domains declare verifiable attributes that describe the mail they

   A domain's declarations are presented in an SPF record.  The record
   is a single string of text:

       SPF-record  = version *( 1*SP ( directive | modifier ) )

   An example SPF Record is:

        v=spf1 +mx -all

   This record has a version of "v=spf1" and three directives:
   "+mx", "", and "-all".

2.1 Publishing

   The SPF record is published in the DNS.  The record is of type TXT.
   The record is placed in the DNS tree at the level of the domain.

   The TXT type was chosen for pragmatic reasons.

   SPF clients ignore records which do not carry a recognized version
   string.  This document specifies the version string "v=spf1".

   A domain MUST NOT return multiple records that begin with the
   version "v=spf1".  If more than one "v=spf1" record is returned,
   this constitutes a syntax error and the result is "unknown".

   Note: The comparison is done on the entire version section (which is
   terminated either by a SP character, or the end of the TXT record).
   Hence, a record with a version of "v=spf10" is not considered a
   record with version "v=spf1".

   An example SPF record is:

      v=spf1 +mx -all

   This might be published easily via this line in a domain file: IN TXT "v=spf1 +mx -all"

   In unusual situations, directives may require additional DNS records.
   If additional records are used, they MAY be published under the
   "_spf" subdomain.  See Appendix B for examples.

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    An SPF record MAY consist of a single TXT record with multiple
    strings. If such an TXT record is encountered, then an SPF client
    MUST concatenate those strings without adding spaces, eg
        TXT "v=spf1 .... first" "second string..."
    MUST be treated as equivalent to
        TXT "v=spf1 .... firstsecond string..."

    TXT records containing multiple strings are useful in order to
    construct more complex SPF records which would otherwise exceed
    the maximum length of a string within a TXT record.

    Note: Many nameserver implementations will silently split long
    strings in TXT records into several shorter strings.

2.2 Interpretation

   SPF clients are applications that parse and interpret the SPF record
   for a domain.  Clients MUST correctly interpret the SPF record
   according to the canonical algorithm defined here.

   Clients MAY use a different algorithm, so long as the results are
   the same.

2.2.1 Subject of SPF testing

   In an SMTP transaction, an SMTP client may provide FQDNs in the HELO
   argument and in the MAIL FROM return-path.  SMTP+SPF receivers MAY
   check the HELO argument and MUST check the return-path.  A single
   SMTP transaction may therefore trigger one or two SPF queries.

   Accordingly, the <responsible-sender> may be drawn from the HELO
   argument or from the "MAIL FROM" return-path.  This document
   sometimes refers to the <responsible-sender> as the "envelope

   It is RECOMMENDED that SMTP+SPF receivers perform tests using the
   following algorithm.

     SMTP+SPF receivers MAY check the HELO argument.  In this mode, the
     <responsible-sender> comes from the HELO argument IF the HELO
     argument is a fully qualified domain name.  If the HELO argument
     is not an FQDN, there is nothing to check and the result is
     "unknown".  If the HELO test returns a "fail", the overall result
     for the envelope is "fail", and there is no need to test the

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     SMTP+SPF receivers MUST check the return-path unless HELO testing
     produced a "fail".  In this mode, the <responsible-sender> comes
     from the domain name of the "MAIL FROM" return-path.  When the
     return-path has no domain, a client MUST use the HELO domain
     instead.  If the HELO argument does not provide an FQDN, SPF
     processing terminates with "unknown".

     If SPF processing occurs after SMTP time, the envelope sender may
     be obtained from the Return-Path header.  If the Return-Path header
     has no domain, a client MAY try to extract the HELO domain from the
     Received headers.  If the headers do not yield useful envelope
     information, SPF processing terminates with "unknown".

   SMTP+SPF receivers MAY test the domain given in the HELO argument
   whether or not the return-path contains a domain name.

   However, the <responsible-sender> address MAY be drawn from an
   alternative source.  For example, an MUA may find it more convenient
   to extract the <responsible-sender> from the Return-Path header or
   from the Sender: header.

   If the <responsible-sender> has no localpart, clients MUST
   substitute the string "postmaster" for the localpart.

   The <current-domain> is initially drawn from the
   <responsible-sender>.  Recursive mechanisms such as Include and
   Redirect replace the initial <current-domain> with another domain.
   However, they do not change the value of the <responsible-sender>.
   See sections 4.2, 3.3, and 8.4.

2.2.2 Lookup

   SPF clients perform a TXT type query in search of an SPF record.

   Any number of records may be returned.  Only the record which begins
   with the version "v=spf1" is relevant to this document.  CNAME
   responses are followed as usual.

   If no matching records are returned, an SPF client MUST assume that
   the domain makes no SPF declarations.  SPF processing MUST abort
   and return "none".

   If the domain does not exist (NXDOMAIN), SPF clients MUST return

   If a domain has no SPF record, clients MAY substitute SPF data from
   a parent domain ONLY IF the appropriate parent domain's SPF record
   sets "match_subdomains=yes".  For example, if no SPF record is

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   found for "", clients MAY proceed to
   automatically query "".  The appropriate parent domain
   to fallback on MUST be determined according to the DNS zone cut.

3. SPF Record Evaluation

   An SPF client evaluates an SPF record and produces one of seven

     None: The domain does not publish SPF data.

     Neutral (?): The SPF client MUST proceed as if a domain did not
     publish SPF data.  This result occurs if the domain explicitly
     specifies a "?" value, or if processing "falls off the end" of
     the SPF record.

     Pass (+): the message meets the publishing domain's definition of
     legitimacy.  MTAs proceed to apply local policy and MAY accept or
     reject the message accordingly.

     Fail (-): the message does not meet a domain's definition of
     legitimacy.  MTAs MAY reject the message using a permanent
     failure reply code.  (Code 550 is RECOMMENDED.  See [RFC2821]
     section 7.1.)

     Softfail (~): the message does not meet a domain's strict
     definition of legitimacy, but the domain cannot confidently state
     that the message is a forgery.  MTAs SHOULD accept the message
     but MAY subject it to a higher transaction cost, deeper scrutiny,
     or an unfavourable score.

   There are two error conditions, one temporary and one permanent.

     Error: indicates an error during lookup; an MTA SHOULD reject the
     message using a transient failure code, such as 450.

     Unknown: indicates incomplete processing: an MTA MUST proceed as
     if a domain did not publish SPF data.

   When SPF-aware SMTP receivers accept a message, they SHOULD prepend a
   Received-SPF header.  See section 6.

   SPF clients MUST use the algorithm described in this section
   or its functional equivalent.

   If an SPF client encounters a syntax error in an
   SPF record, it must terminate processing and return a result
   of "unknown".

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3.1 Matching Version

   An SPF record begins with a version section:

        version = "v=spf" version-number
        version-number = 1*DIGIT

   SPF clients MUST use only the records of the highest understood
   version published by a domain and ignore all lower versions, unless
   that version explicitly recognizes lower versioned responses.

   For example, if an SPF client understands versions 1, 2 and 3, and
   the DNS query results in records of version 1, 2 and 4, then only
   the record with version 2 is used.

   This specification describes version 1.  If multiple "v=spf1" records
   are returned, the SPF client MUST reject them all and act as if no
   version 1 records were returned.

   SPF-like records of the form "v=spf1+ext" or "v=spf1.1" are not
   described by this document.

3.2 SPF Directive Evaluation

   There are two types of directives: mechanisms and modifiers.  A given
   mechanism type may always appear multiple times in a record.
   Modifiers may be constrained to appear at most once per record,
   depending on the definition of the modifier.  Unknown mechanisms
   cause processing to abort with the result "unknown".  Unknown
   modifiers are ignored by clients.

   An SPF record contains an ordered list of mechanisms and modifiers:

     SPF-record  = version *( 1*SP ( directive / modifier ) ) *SP

     version     = "v=spf" 1*DIGIT

     prefix      = "+" / "-" / "?" / "~"

     directive   = [prefix] mechanism
     mechanism   = name [ ":" macro-string ] *[ '/' *DIGIT ]
     modifier    = name "=" macro-string
     name        = alpha *( alpha / digit / "-" / "_" / "." )

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   Modifiers always contain an equals ('=') character.

   Mechanisms usually contain ':' or '/' characters.

   Directives that do not contain any of '=', ':', or '/' are

   Modifiers MAY appear to the right of a terminal mechanism such as
   "all".  SPF parsers may therefore choose to extract all the
   modifiers from a record before interpreting mechanisms.
   Alternatively, they may continue to parse a record in search of a
   meaningful modifier even after mechanism evaluation has completed.

   Each mechanism is considered in turn from left to right.

   When a mechanism is evaluated, one of three things can happen: it
   can match, it can not match, or it can throw an exception.

   If it matches, processing ends and the prefix value is returned as
   the result of that record.  (The default prefix value is "+".)

   If it does not match, processing continues with the next mechanism.
   If no mechanisms remain, the default result is specified in section

   If it throws an exception, mechanism processing ends and
   the exception value is returned (either "error"
   indicating a temporary failure, usually DNS-related, or
   "unknown" indicating a syntax error or other permanent
   failure resulting in incomplete processing.)

   Mechanisms are described in Sections 4 and 5.

   A missing prefix for a mechanism is the same as a prefix of "+".

   The possible prefixes are:
       +   pass
       -   fail
       ~   softfail
       ?   neutral

   Mechanism and modifier names are case-insensitive.  A mechanism
   "INCLUDE" is equivalent to "include".  However, case SHOULD be
   preserved in arguments to mechanisms and modifiers.

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3.3 Default result

   If none of the mechanisms match and there is no redirect modifier,
   then the result of the SPF query is "neutral".  If there is a
   redirect modifier, the SPF client proceeds as defined in section 5.1.

   Note that SPF records SHOULD always either use a redirect modifier or
   an "all" mechanism to explicitly terminate processing.

   For example:

      v=spf1 +mx -all

      v=spf1 +mx

4. Mechanism Definitions

   This section defines two types of mechanisms.

   Basic mechanisms contribute to the SPF language framework.  They
   do not specify a particular type of authentication scheme.

     - all
     - include

   Designated sender mechanisms are used to discover the relationship of
   the client IP address to the <responsible-sender>.

     - a            - ip4
     - mx           - ip6
     - ptr          - exists

   Other mechanisms can be independently defined in the future.

   Mechanisms either match, do not match, or throw an exception.
   If they match, their prefix value is returned.
   If they do not match, processing continues.
   If they throw an exception, the exception value is returned.

   Several of these mechanisms take an optional <domain-spec> argument.
   If the <domain-spec> is present, then it is macro expanded (see
   Section 7) and becomes the <target-name>.  If the <domain-spec> is
   not provided, the <current-domain> is used as the <target-name>.

   Several mechanisms require DNS lookups.  In those lookups, CNAME
   responses are followed in the usual way.

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4.1 "all"

        all = "all"

   The "all" mechanism is a test that always matches.  It is used as the
   rightmost mechanism in an SPF record to provide an explicit default.

   For example:
        v=spf1 +mx +a -all

   Mechanisms after "all" will never be tested.

4.2 "include"

    include = "include" ":" domain-spec

   The "include" mechanism triggers a recursive SPF query.  The
   domain-spec is expanded as per section 7.  Then a new query is
   launched using the resulting string as the <current-domain>.  The
   <responsible-sender> stays the same.

   "Include" makes it possible for one domain to designate multiple
   administratively independent domains.

   For example, a vanity domain "" might send mail using the
   servers of administratively independent domains and could say

      "v=spf1 -all".

   That would direct an SPF client to, in effect, search the SPF records
   for and for a "pass" result.  Only if the
   message were not permitted for either of those domains would the
   result be "fail".

   This mechanism matches when the inner, included query result returns
   a pass, and doesn't match when the result is fail, softfail, or
   neutral.  However, if the new query returns none, error, or unknown,
   then processing of the entire SPF query stops immediately and
   returns the error result.

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      included    include
      query       mechanism      SPF
      result      result         processing
      -------- -- -------------- -------------------------------------
      pass     => match,         return the prefix value for "include"
      fail     => no match,      continue processing
      softfail => no match,      continue processing
      neutral  => no match,      continue processing
      error    => throw error,   abort processing, return error
      unknown  => throw unknown, abort processing, return unknown
      none     => throw unknown, abort processing, return unknown

   If the parent domain includes another domain, and that domain one day
   loses its SPF record, it is better for the query to abort with
   "unknown" than to continue on to a potential "-all".

   The Include mechanism is intended for crossing administrative
   boundaries.  While it is possible to use Includes to consolidate
   multiple domains that share the same set of designated hosts, domains
   are encouraged to use Redirects where possible, and to minimize the
   number of <Includes> within a single administrative domain.
   For example, if and were managed by the same
   entity, and if the canonical set of designated mailers for both
   domains were "", it would be possible for
   to specify "", but it would be preferable to
   specify "" or even "".

4.3 Introducing Designated Sender Mechanisms

   Designated sender schemes allow SMTP receivers to make policy
   decisions on the basis of domain name rather than IP address.

   These mechanisms allow a domain to declare that certain hosts send
   mail from that domain.  When an SPF client processes these
   mechanisms, it tests to see if the <sending-host> matches.

   Usually, the <sending-host> is the IP address of an SMTP client.  The
   SMTP receiver is the SPF client.  The SPF lookup may also operate
   after the SMTP transaction has terminated.  In these cases the
   <sending-host> may have to be extracted from the Received header or
   some other meta-data about the message.  Received headers can be
   forged.  Still, accurate analysis is possible if care is taken.

   If mail is transferred between mail systems internal to an
   organization, and that organization chooses to process SPF after such
   transfers, then the <sending-host> should be the external host that
   first transferred the mail into the organization's mail system.

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   When the <sending-host> is localhost, Designated Sender mechanisms
   are not meaningful.  Therefore, an SPF client immediately returns
   "pass" without evaluating mechanisms.

   The <sending-host> is required for these mechanisms.  If it cannot
   be determined, then these mechanisms cannot be tested, and "unknown"
   is returned.

   The following conventions apply to designated sender mechanisms:

      If the optional <CIDR-length> is given, then only the upper
      <CIDR-length> bits of each IP are compared to the <sending-host>.

      If the SMTP connection is IPv6, read "AAAA lookup" for "A lookup",
      except where "A" lookups are explicitly specified.

4.4 "a"

   This mechanism matches if the <sending-host> is one of the
   <target-name>'s IP addresses.

        A = "a" [ ":" domain-spec ] [ dual-cidr-length ]

   The <sending-host> is compared to the IP address(es) of the
   <target-name>.  If any address matches, the mechanism matches.

4.5 "mx"

   This mechanism matches if the <sending-host> is one of the MX hosts
   for a domain name.

        MX = "mx" [ ":" domain-spec ] [ dual-cidr-length ]

   SPF clients first perform an MX lookup on the <target-name>.  SPF
   clients then perform an A lookup on each MX name returned, in order
   of MX priority.  The <sending-host> is compared to each returned IP
   address.  If any address matches, the mechanism matches.

   Note Regarding Implicit MXes: If the <target-name> has no MX records,
   SPF clients MUST NOT pretend the target is its single MX, and MUST
   NOT default to an A lookup on the <target-name> directly.  This
   behaviour breaks with the legacy "implicit MX" rule.  See [RFC2821]
   Section 5.  If such behaviour is desired, the publisher should
   specify an "a" directive.

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4.6 "ptr"

   This mechanism tests if the <sending-host>'s name is within a
   particular domain.

        PTR = "ptr" [ ":" domain-spec ]

   First the <sending-host>'s name is looked up using this procedure:
   perform a PTR lookup against the <sending-host>'s IP.  For each
   record returned, validate the host name by looking up its IP address.
   If the <sending-host>'s IP is among the returned IP addresses, then
   that host name is validated.  In pseudocode:

     sending-host_names := ptr_lookup(sending-host_IP);
     for each name in (sending-host_names) {
       IP_addresses := a_lookup(name);
       if the sending-host_IP is one of the IP_addresses {
         validated_sending-host_names += name;
     } }

   Check all validated hostnames to see if they end in the <target-name>
   domain.  If any do, this mechanism matches.  If no validated hostname
   can be found, or if none of the validated hostnames end in the
   <target-name>, this mechanism fails to match.

     for each name in (validated_sending-host_names) {
       if name ends in <domain-spec>, return match.
       if name is <domain-spec>, return match.
     return no-match.

   This mechanism matches if the <target-name> is an ancestor of the
   <sending-host>, or if the <target-name> and the <sending-host> are
   the same.  For example: "" is within the domain
   "", but "" is not.  If a validated
   hostname is the <target-name>, a match results.

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4.7 "ip4" and "ip6"

   These mechanisms test if the <sending-host> falls into a given IP

    IP4             = "ip4" ":" ip4-network [ ip4-cidr-length ]
    IP6             = "ip6" ":" ip6-network [ ip6-cidr-length ]
    ip4-cidr-length = "/" 1*DIGIT
    ip6-cidr-length = "/" 1*DIGIT

    ip4-network    = dotted-quad notation
    ip6-network    = conventional IPv6 notation

   The <sending-host> is compared to the given network.  If they match,
   the mechanism matches.

   If the cidr-length is omitted, the ip4-cidr-length is taken to be
   "/32" and the ip6-cidr-length is taken to be "/128".

4.8 "exists"

   This mechanism is used to construct an arbitrary host name that is
   used for a DNS A record query.  It allows for complicated schemes
   involving arbitrary parts of the mail envelope to determine what is

        exists = "exists" ":" domain-spec

   The domain-spec is expanded as per Section 7.  The resulting domain
   name is used for a DNS A lookup.  If any A record is returned, this
   mechanism matches.  The lookup type is 'A' even when the connection
   type is IPv6.

   SPF publishers can use this mechanism to specify arbitrarily complex
   queries.  For example, suppose publishes the SPF record:

     v=spf1 exists:%{ir}.%{l1r+-}._spf.%{d} -all

   The target-name might expand to
   "".  This makes fine-grained
   decisions possible at the level of the user and client IP address.

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5. Modifier Definitions

   Only two standard modifiers are defined: "redirect" and "exp".  SPF
   clients MUST support them both.

   Modifiers are not mechanisms: they do not return match or no-match.

   Instead they provide additional information or change the course of
   SPF processing.

   While unrecognized mechanisms cause an immediate "unknown" abort,
   unrecognized modifiers are simply ignored.

   Modifiers therefore provide an easy way to extend the SPF protocol.

   This document reserves one extension modifier, "accredit", one
   deprecated modifier "default", and one future modifier

5.1 redirect: Redirected Query

   If all mechanisms fail to match, and a redirect modifier is present,
   then processing proceeds as follows.

      redirect = "redirect" "=" domain-spec

   The domain-spec portion of the redirect section is expanded
   as per the macro rules in section 7.  The resulting string
   is a new domain that is now queried:  The <current-domain>
   is set to this new domain, and the new domain's SPF record
   is fetched and processed.  Note that <responsible-sender> does not

   The result of this new query is then considered the result of
   original query.

   Note that the newly queried domain may itself specify redirect

   This facility is intended for use by organizations that wish to apply
   the same SPF record to multiple domains.  For example:

 TXT "v=spf1"
 TXT "v=spf1"
 TXT "v=spf1" TXT "v=spf1 -all"

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   In this example, mail from any of the three domains is described by
   the same SPF record.  This can be an administrative advantage.

   Note: in general, a domain A cannot reliably use a redirect to
   another domain B not under the same administrative control.  Since
   the <responsible-sender> stays the same, there is no guarantee that
   the SPF directives at domain B will correctly work for addresses in
   domain A, especially if domain B uses mechanisms involving
   localparts.  An "Include" directive may be more appropriate.

   Only one redirect modifier may appear per SPF record.  The modifier
   does not have to appear at the end; it MAY appear anywhere in the
   record.  However, for clarity it is RECOMMENDED that redirect
   modifiers appear after mechanisms.

5.2 exp: Explanation

   The argument to the explanation modifier is a domain-spec to be TXT
   queried.  The result of the TXT query is a macro-string that is
   macro-expanded.  If SPF processing results in a rejection, the
   expanded result SHOULD be shown to the sender in the SMTP reject
   message.  This string allows the publishing domain to communicate
   further information via the SMTP receiver to legitimate senders in
   the form of a short message or URL.

   Only one exp modifier may appear per SPF record.

       explanation = "exp" "=" domain-spec

   When an SPF client performs a query, and the result is anything other
   than pass, then the explanation string, if present, SHOULD be
   presented to the SMTP client after macro expansion.  See section 7.

   Suppose has this SPF record

      v=spf1 mx -all exp=explain._spf.%{d}

   Here are some examples of possible explanation TXT records at mail should only be sent by its own servers.
         -- a simple, constant message

      %{i} is not one of %{d}'s designated mail servers.
         -- a message with a little more info, including the
         -- SMTP sender's IP address

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      See http://%{d}/why.html?s=%{S}&i=%{I}&h=%{H}
         -- a complicated example that constructs a URL with
         -- most of the parameters of the failed message so that
         -- a web page can be generated with instructions

   If multiple explanation TXT records are returned, they are
   concatenated in the order they were received.  Use of multiple TXT
   records is discouraged as DNS does not guarantee order.

   Note: during recursion into an Include mechanism, explanations do not
   propagate out.  But during execution of a Redirect modifier, the
   explanation string from the target of the redirect is used.

5.3 accredit: Sender Accreditation

      accreditation = 'accredit' '=' domain-spec

   The argument to the accreditation modifier is a domain-spec to be
   macro-expanded and queried.  The result of the query is interpreted
   according to the definitions set forth by the accreditation service.

   For example,


   This facility allows the publishing domain to make independently
   verifiable assertions about itself in machine-readable form.

   Multiple "accredit" modifiers may appear in one SPF record.

   The "accredit" modifier is OPTIONAL.  SPF publishers MAY omit it.
   SPF clients MAY ignore any or all "accredit" modifiers.  If a
   receiver does not recognize the domain-spec argument, it MAY ignore
   the modifier.

   It is expected that SPF-enabled receivers will maintain a library of
   recognized accreditation providers, keyed by the domain-spec.  An
   accreditation provider is responsible for describing the protocol it
   uses to encode assertions.  For example, suppose an accreditation
   provider supports DNS "A" queries against the expanded domain-spec.
   A result of NXDOMAIN could mean "domain is not known to the
   accreditation service."  A result of "" could mean "the
   accreditation service vouches for the integrity of the sender
   domain."  Accreditation providers can make up any protocol they like
   as long as they can convince receivers to use it.

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   Accreditation is only meaningful if the result of the SPF query is a

   Accreditation operates on behalf of the sender.  Receivers, and the
   reputation services that operate on their behalf, are expected to
   adopt a critical stance toward accreditation assertions.

6. Miscellaneous

6.1 Unrecognized Mechanisms and Modifiers

   Future extensions to this standard may introduce new mechanisms and

   Unrecognized mechanisms cause processing to abort: if, during
   evaluation of an SPF record, an SPF client encounters a mechanism
   which it does not understand or which it cannot properly evaluate
   (due perhaps to insufficient information about the message at
   evaluation time), then it terminates processing and returns
   "unknown", without evaluating any further mechanisms.  Mechanisms
   listed before the unknown mechanism MUST, however, be evaluated.

   For example, given the record

      v=spf1 a mx ptr domainkeys:_dk.%{d} -all

   messages that match the "a", "mx", or "ptr" mechanisms would return a
   "pass" result.  An SPF client that did not recognize the mechanism
   "domainkeys" would return "unknown".  An SPF client that was
   domainkeys-aware would be able to perform extended evaluation.  If
   the message matched the domainkeys test, it would pass; if it did
   not, evaluation would proceed to "-all" and return "fail".

   "domainkeys" is an example of an unknown extension mechanism that
   could be defined in future versions of this standard.  It is NOT
   defined by this proposal.

   Unrecognized modifiers are ignored: if an SPF client encounters
   modifiers which it does not recognize, it MUST ignore them and
   continue processing.  Modifiers always contain an "=" sign.

   Unrecognized mechanisms are preserved in the Received-SPF header.
   See section 6.3.

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6.2 Processing Limits

   During processing, an SPF client may perform additional SPF
   subqueries due to the Include mechanism and the Redirect modifier.

   SPF clients must be prepared to handle records that are set up
   incorrectly or maliciously.  SPF clients MUST perform loop detection,
   limit SPF recursion, or both.  If an SPF client chooses to limit
   recursion depth, then at least a total of 20 redirects and includes
   SHOULD be supported.  (This number should be enough for even the most
   complicated configurations.)

   If a loop is detected, or if more than 20 subqueries are triggered,
   an SPF client MAY abort the lookup and return the result "unknown".

   Regular non-recursive lookups due to mechanisms like "a" and "mx" or
   due to modifiers like "exp" do not count toward this total.

6.3 The Received-SPF header

   It is RECOMMENDED that SMTP receivers record the result of SPF
   processing in the message headers.  If an SMTP receiver chooses to do
   so, it MUST use the "Received-SPF" header defined here.  This
   information is intended for the recipient.  (Information intended for
   the sender of the e-mail is described in Section 5.2, Explanation.)

   The header SHOULD be prepended to existing headers.  It MUST appear
   above any other Received-SPF headers in the message.  The header has
   the format:

        header = "Received-SPF:" 1*SP result [ 1*SP "(" comment ")" ]
                 *( 1*SP key-value-pair )

        result = "pass" / "fail" / "error" / "softfail" / "neutral" /
                 "none" / "unknown" / unknown-mechanisms

        unknown-mechanisms = "unknown" *( 1*SP [prefix] mechanism )

        key-value-pair = 1*VCHAR "=" *(WSP / VCHAR) ";"

        comment = [ smtp-receiver-hostname ": " comment-string ]

   The comment-string should convey supporting information for the
   result (such as <responsible-sender> and <current-domain>).

   If processing was aborted due to unrecognized mechanisms, the
   Received-SPF header SHOULD show the unrecognized mechanisms after
   the "unknown" word.

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   Example headers generated by

       Received-SPF: pass ( domain of
 designates as permitted sender)
   ; client-ip=;

       Received-SPF: fail ( domain of
                  does not designate
                  as permitted sender)

       Received-SPF: softfail ( domain of
                               transitioning does not
                               designate as permitted sender)

       Received-SPF: neutral ( is neither
                              permitted nor denied by domain of

       Received-SPF: none ( does
                           not designate permitted sender hosts)

       Received-SPF: unknown -extension:foo ( domain
                               of uses a
                                mechanism not recognized by this client)

       Received-SPF: error ( error in processing
                            during lookup of DNS

   SPF clients may append zero or more of the following key-value-pairs
   at their discretion:

      receiver       the hostname of the SPF client
      client-ip      the IP address of the SMTP client
      envelope-from  the envelope sender address
      helo           the hostname given in the HELO or EHLO command
      mechanism      the mechanism that matched (if no mechanisms
                     matched, substitute the word "default".)
      problem        if an error was returned, details about the error

   Other key-value pairs may be defined by SPF clients.  Until a new key
   name becomes widely accepted, new key names should start with "x-".

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7. Macros

7.1 Macro definitions

   Certain directives perform macro interpolation on their arguments.

     macro-string = *( macro-char / VCHAR )
     macro-char   = ( "%{" ALPHA transformer *delimiter "}" )
                    / "%%" / "%_" / "%-"
     transformer  = [ *DIGIT ] [ "r" ]
     delimiter    = "." / "-" / "+" / "," / "/" / "_" / "="

   A literal "%" is expressed by "%%".
   %_ expands to a single " " space.
   %- expands to a URL-encoded space, viz. "%20".

   The following macro letters are expanded in directive arguments:

      l = local-part of responsible-sender
      s = responsible-sender
      o = responsible-domain
      d = current-domain
      i = SMTP client IP (nibble format when an IPv6 address)
      p = SMTP client domain name
      v = client IP version string: "in-addr" for ipv4 or "ip6" for ipv6
      h = HELO/EHLO domain
      r = receiving domain

   The following macro letters are expanded only in "exp" text:

      c = SMTP client IP (easily readable format)
      t = current timestamp in UTC epoch seconds notation

   The uppercase versions of all these macros are URL-encoded.

   A '%' character not followed by a '{', '%', '-', or '_' character
   MUST be interpreted as a literal.  SPF publishers SHOULD NOT rely on
   this feature; they MUST escape % literals.  For example, an
   explanation TXT record
      Your spam volume has increased by 581%
   is incorrect.  Instead, say
      Your spam volume has increased by 581%%

   Legal optional transformers are:

        *DIGIT ; zero or more digits
        'r'    ; reverse value, splitting on dots by default

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   If transformers or delimiters are provided, the macro strings are
   split into parts.  After performing any reversal operation or
   removal of left-hand parts, the parts are rejoined using "." and not
   the original splitting characters.

   By default, strings are split on "." (dots).  Macros may specify
   delimiter characters which are used instead of ".".  Delimiters
   MUST be one or more of the characters:
      "." / "-" / "+" / "," / "/" / "_" / "="

   The 'r' transformer indicates a reversal operation: if the client IP
   address were, the macro %{i} would expand to ""
   and the macro %{ir} would expand to "".

   The DIGIT transformer indicates the number of right-hand parts to
   use after optional reversal.  If a DIGIT is specified, it MUST be
   nonzero.  If no DIGITs are specified, or if the value specifies more
   parts than are available, all the available parts are used.  If the
   DIGIT was 5, and only 3 parts were available, the macro interpreter
   would pretend the DIGIT was 3.  Implementations MAY limit the
   number, but MUST support at least a value of 9.

   For the "l" and "s" macros: when the local-part is not defined, the
   string "postmaster" is substituted.  The local-part might be
   undefined if the <current-domain> is drawn from the HELO command
   rather than the MAIL FROM.

   For IPv4 addresses, both the "i" and "c" macros expand to the
   standard dotted-quad format.

   For IPv6 addresses, the "i" macro expands to dot-format address; it
   is intended for use in %{ir}.  The "c" macro may expand to any of
   the hexadecimal colon-format addresses specified in [RFC3513] section
   2.2.  It is intended for humans to read.

   Use of the "t" macro in DNS lookups would greatly reduce the
   effectiveness of DNS caching.  The "t" macro is only allowed in
   explanation records.  The value of the "t" macro SHOULD NOT change
   during the evaluation of a given SPF record.

   The "p" macro expands to the validated domain name of the SMTP
   client.  The validation procedure is described in section 4.6.  If
   there are no validated domain names, the word "unknown" is
   substituted.  If multiple validated domain names exist, the first one
   returned in the PTR result is chosen.

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   The "r" macro expands to the name of the receiving MTA.  This SHOULD
   be a fully qualified domain name, but if one does not exist (as when
   the checking is done by a script) or if policy restrictions dictate
   otherwise, the word "unknown" SHOULD be substituted.  The domain
   name MAY be different than the name found in the MX record that the
   client MTA used to locate the receiving MTA.

   The "s" macro expands to the sender email address: a localpart, an @
   sign, and a domain.  The "o" macro is the domain part of the "s".
   They remain the same during a recursive "include" or "redirect"

   When the result of macro expansion is used in a domain name query, if
   the expanded domain name exceeds 255 characters (the maximum length
   of a domain name), the left side is truncated to fit, by removing
   successive subdomains until the total length falls below 255

   Uppercased macros are URL escaped.

   URL encoding is described in [RFC2396].

7.2 Expansion Examples

   The <responsible-sender> is
   The IPv4 SMTP client IP is
   The IPv6 SMTP client IP is 5f05:2000:80ad:5800::1.
   The PTR domain name of the client IP is

   macro                 expansion
   %{d1}                             com
   %{l}                       strong-bad
   %{l-}                      strong.bad
   %{lr}                      strong-bad
   %{lr-}                     bad.strong
   %{l1r-}                        strong

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   macro-string                                   expansion





8. Conformance Definitions

   The following sections define SPF conformance applied to various

8.1 Introduction

   In an SMTP+SPF transaction, there are three primary entites:
     - the envelope sender domain
     - the sending host (the SMTP client)
     - the SMTP receiver

   The conformance status of each entity has implications for the
   transaction as a whole.

8.2 Conformance with regard to sender domains

   For a domain to be considered SPF-conformant, its authoritative DNS
   servers are REQUIRED to publish an SPF record for that domain.
   Domains which do not publish SPF data SHALL NOT be deemed

   If claims SPF compliance, it must have a record of
   the form: IN TXT "v=spf1 ..."

   A domain also SHOULD publish policy records for each of its
   designated servers.

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8.3 Conformance with regard to sending e-mail systems

   To be considered SPF-conformant, an SMTP sending host MUST resolve a
   "pass" for all the SPF-conformant domains which appear in the "MAIL
   FROM" command.

   An SMTP sending host MUST also resolve a "pass" for all the
   SPF-conformant domains which appear in the "HELO" or "EHLO" command.

   If the domains used in MAIL FROM and in HELO/EHLO do not publish SPF
   information, an SMTP sending host is considered conformant by
   default.  Only when those domains do publish SPF is the SMTP sending
   host required to resolve a "pass".

   For example: in a transaction where host mx01 emits:

      MAIL FROM:<>

   An SMTP+SPF receiver will attempt to find an SPF record at


   An SMTP+SPF receiver may also attempt to find an SPF record at TXT

   If either query returns an SPF record, host mx01 MUST return a
   "pass" for that SPF test.

8.4 Conformance with regard to receiving e-mail systems

   To describe itself as SPF-conformant, an SMTP receiver MUST perform
   SPF tests.

   SPF tests need not be performed while an SMTP transaction is ongoing:
   if the MDA performs the test, that is sufficient.  A server need not
   reject a message; but if it does not, it SHOULD add a Received-SPF
   header.  If a server rejects a message, it SHOULD include any
   <explanation> provided by the SPF publisher.

   If a receiver system has a choice of testing the envelope sender (as
   recorded in the Return-Path header) versus the message headers (as
   recorded in Sender or From), the envelope is recommended.

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   If the domain passed in the HELO command is a fully-qualified domain
   name, an SPF-conformant receiver MAY test that domain name.

   Receiver systems SHOULD exclude special recipients such as
   postmaster@ and abuse@ from SPF processing.  See [RFC2142].

   SPF is only one component in a policy engine.  An SPF-conformant SMTP
   receiver is NOT REQUIRED to perform SPF tests on messages whose
   dispositions have already been decided on the basis of other policy.

     Example 1: if an SMTP receiver requires that sender domains must
     possess MX or A records, and rejects transactions where they do
     not, then SPF tests are moot.

     Example 2: if an SMTP receiver expects messages from a trusted
     client, such as a secondary MX for its own domain, then SPF tests
     are not needed.

     Example 3: if an SMTP receiver is considering a transaction which
     does not yield a fully-qualified domain name in either the MAIL
     FROM sender or the HELO command, SPF tests are not appropriate, and
     the disposition of the message should be decided on the basis of
     other policy.

8.5 Conformance with regard to a particular SMTP transaction

   An email message during delivery is conformant if SPF evaluation
   results in a "pass", "neutral", or "softfail".

8.6 Conformance with regard to an email-sending user

   An email-sending user is conformant if all of her outbound mail is
   sent through a designated mailer for her sender domain.

8.7 Rejection of non-SPF conformant email

   Mail from a domain SHOULD NOT be automatically treated as suspect
   just because the domain doesn't publish SPF records.

   If SPF tests return an explicit "fail" result during processing, the
   receiver domain MAY reject, label, or classify the message as it
   wishes.  If the message is rejected, the receiver domain SHOULD
   provide the "exp" string specified in section 5.2.

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8.8 Rejection of SPF conformant email

   An SPF email system MAY choose to reject or discard email on the
   basis of local policy.  SPF is one component in an overall
   email-policy engine.  SPF merely makes it possible for policy
   decisions to be made with confidence at the sender-domain level.  The
   actual policy decisions are outside the scope of this document.

8.9 Recommendations

   If a domain contains subdomains or hostnames that have A or MX
   records, those subdomains and hostnames SHOULD publish SPF records as
   well.  If they do not, they remain at risk of forgery.

   Domain names used in a legitimate envelope sender SHOULD possess MX

   This proposal recommends the deprecation of the legacy "implicit
   MX" rule defined in [RFC2821] section 5.  Domains that want to
   receive mail SHOULD always define explicit MX records.

   This proposal also recommends that HELO arguments SHOULD be
   fully-qualified domain names that resolve to the IP address of the
   sending MTA.

8.10 Changes to Existing Semantics

8.10.1 The Return-Path is now also a Responsible Sender

   From [RFC2821]:
      The <reverse-path> portion of the first or only argument contains
      the source mailbox (between "<" and ">" brackets), which can be
      used to report errors (see section 4.2 for a discussion of error

   When SPF is used to authenticate the return-path, the domain in the
   source mailbox is now also considered accountable for injecting the
   message into the mailstream.

   This semantic change is justified by the desire to control joe-jobs.
   Joe jobs are a distributed denial of service attack against a given
   address executed by forging messages using a victim sender address
   and sending them to thousands of recipients.  Inevitably, some of
   those delivery attempts fail, and bounce messages are generated to
   the victim sender address.  These unwanted bounce messages can end up
   crippling the victim mailbox.  SPF gives these potential victims a
   way to protect their mailboxes.  With SPF, senders can now control
   the use of their address in the return-path.

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9. Applicability Statement

   This section discusses deployment considerations.

9.1 Adoption by disreputable domains

   It is trivial for a domain to publish "+all" to allow all.  A
   disreputable domain could then send unwanted email from any host.
   This is a common objection to SPF.

   SPF provides a value-neutral framework for sender authentication and
   accreditation.  Senders use that framework to make assertions
   regarding the quality of messages.

   It is the responsibility of the SMTP receiver to evaluate those
   assertions.  First the SMTP receiver discards obvious forgeries.
   Then it evaluates the remaining messages according to the reputation
   of the sender and any accompanying accreditation assertions.

   Whether a given domain is reputable or not is a decision that belongs
   to an SMTP receiver.  Policy decisions regarding particular messages
   are outside the scope of SPF.

9.2 Limitations

   In an SPF-conformant environment, envelope sender forgery is limited
   to the local domain.  Unless per-user macros are used, it is possible
   for one user to forge another user's address within that domain.
   However, the organization responsible for the domain presumably has
   the wherewithal to follow an audit trail.

9.3 Phased Rollout

   At an adopting domain, adoption of SPF could occur in phases.  A
   domain might move through these phases by changing its default
   response type from "neutral" to "softfail" to "fail".

   The phases are characterized by different levels of awareness
   among the domain's userbase, and different levels of strictness on
   the part of SPF-conformant receivers.

   When a sufficient majority of its users are SPF-conformant, a
   domain SHOULD change its default to "-all".  This constitutes a
   request to mail receivers to reject non-conformant mail.  Setting
   "-all" protects the users from account fraud and joe-jobbing.

   Messages that explicitly fail SPF with a "fail" SHOULD be rejected.

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9.4 Verbatim Forwarding

   SPF changes the model of email from a store-and-forward system to an
   end-to-end system.  Verbatim email forwarding suffers accordingly.

   In verbatim forwarding, an intermediate forwarding host rewrites the
   envelope recipient, but leaves the envelope sender untouched.

   There are two ways to preserve forwarding functionality under SPF.
   Either forwarders can change to remailing, or receiver systems can
   whitelist forwarders.

   In remailing, forwarding hosts rewrite the return-path address.
   The rewritten envelope sender can take a variety of forms, depending
   on whether bounces should be forwarded back to the original sender.
   If bounces are unimportant, the rewritten sender could be as simple
   as <>.  If bounces are important, forwarders can
   use envelope encapsulation with a MAC nonce, or rewrite the address
   into a database-backed cookie.

   If return-path rewriting is not feasible, receiver systems can simply
   whitelist trusted sites which are known to forward mail to local

9.5 Per-user exemptions

   The "exists" mechanism can be used to exempt certain users from the
   SPF requirements that apply to the rest of the domain.

10. Security Considerations

   SPF depends on DNS.  A malicious attacker could poison a target's DNS
   cache with spoofed DNS data.

   SPF assumes the client IP address is true.  A malicious attacker
   could spoof TCP sequences to make mail appear to come from a
   designated host.  If this happens, an "echo" command could be
   introduced to ESMTP to require a simple challenge/response

   SPF clients need to limit the number of includes and redirects to
   avoid attacks.  Implementations are required to follow recursion to a
   minimum of 20.

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11. IANA Considerations

   The registry of standard mechanism and modifier names may be turned
   over to IANA for management.

12. Contributors and Acknowledgements

  SPF owes a debt of parentage to RMX (by Hadmut Danisch in 2003) and to
  DMP (by Gordon Fecyk in 2003).  It traces its ancestry farther back
  through "Repudiating Mail-From" by Paul Vixie in 2002 to a suggestion
  by Jim Miller in 1998.

  Philip Gladstone contributed macros to the specification, multiplying
  the expressiveness of the language and making per-user and per-IP
  lookups possible.

  The authors would also like to thank the following individuals who
  contributed to, critically reviewed, or otherwise furthered the
  development of this specification.  The authors wish to apologize in
  advance for any omissions.

    Jameel Akari, Marc Alaia, Dave Alden, Tom Allison, Eric Allman,
    Justo Alonso, Mark Anderson, Matthias Andree, Don Andrews,
    Mohammad Arca, Aredridel, William Astle, Bob Atkinson, Roy Badami,
    Andy Bakun, Derek J. Balling, Arik Baratz, Graham Barr, Matthew
    Barr, Ernesto Baschny, Mike Batchelor, Peter Baumann, Steven
    Bellovin, Jon Bertrand, Paul Blair, Andrew Boling, Richard
    Bollinger, Dan Boresjo, Nicolas Bougues, Daniel Bourque, Jeremy
    T. Bouse, Raymond S Brand, Seth Breidbart, David Brodbeck, Neil
    Brown, Zack Brown, Michael R. Brumm, Jason Buchanan, Jasmin
    Buchert, Ted Cabeen, Dave Camp, Anthony Campbell, Bryan Campbell,
    Brian Candler, John Capo, Dennis Carr, L. Carver, Lee Carver, Ian
    Castle, Jose Celestino, Christopher Chan, Jason Chen, Joe Christy,
    Andrew Church, Greg Cirino, Bradley Cloete, James H. Cloos Jr.,
    Bill Cole, Brian Coloney, Sean Comeau, Greg Connor, Erik Corry, Dj
    Coster, James Couzens, Chris Cowherd, Dave Crocker, Arlie Davis,
    Alan DeKok, Mark Delany, Kitt Diebold, Mark Jason Dominus, Andrew
    W. Donoho, William H. Dorell, Jeremy Doupe, Lilia Downs, Chris
    Drake, Jesus Duarte, Viktor Duchovni, Lars B. Dybdahl, David
    Dyer-Bennet, Lyndon Eaton, Henrik Edlund, William Elan, Matthew
    Elvey, Stefan Engelbert, Shaun T. Erickson, Ray Everett-Church,
    Mark Farver, Nick Fields, Guillaume Filion, Tony Finch, Cary
    Fitch, Gustav Foseid, Mark Foster, Steven Foster, Benjamin Franz,
    Tim Freeman, Tugrul Galatali, Stuart D. Gathman, Fotis Georgatos,
    Richard George, Oliver Gerler, Dean Gibson, B. Gingery, Eric
    Girard, Tim Gladding, Philip Gladstone, Etta Good, Seth Goodman,
    Gabriel Granger, Ben Greear, Bob Greene, Ronald F. Guilmette,
    Phillip Hallam-Baker, Clifford Hammerschmidt, Catherine Hampton,

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    Ask Bjoern Hansen, Richard Hansen, Howard Lee Harkness, Thomas
    Harold, Edward Ned Harvey, Ned Harvey, Brian Hatch, Refugio
    Hayden, Philip Hazel, Zan Hecht, Eric Helfgott, George Herson,
    Greg Hewgill, Alan Hodgson, Vidar Holen, Sam Horrocks, Phil
    Howard, Paul Howarth, Anthony Howe, Marc Hudson, John Hughes, Kenn
    Humborg, Adam Hunt, Carl Hutzler, Paul Iadonisi, Lars Magne
    Ingebrigtsen, Aditya Ivaturi, Mitcheal Jackmoore, Jeremy Jackson,
    Bryce Jasmer, Mark Jeftovic, Jim Jobe, B. Johannessen, Thomas H
    Jones II, Nico Kadel-Garcia, Rob Kaper, Phil Karn, Harry Katz, Lou
    Katz, Richard Kay, Izzy Kindred, Alain Knaff, Don Koch, Kevin
    Kolk, Tomasz Konefal, Thor Kooda, Karl Kraft, Andreas Kreuzinger,
    Russell Kroll, Carsten Kuckuk, Jon Kyme, Ty Lammy, Bill Landry,
    Mark Lentczner, Nate Leon, Andy Lester, John R Levine, Jon
    Loeliger, Will Lowe, Dave Lugo, Jim Lyon, Marty Lyons, Vivien M.,
    Daniel Mack, Dr Belo Madu, Lee Maguire, Ryan Malayter, Walt
    Mankowski, Marrandy, K.F.J. Martens, John A. Martin, Tracy Martin,
    Justin Mason, Jeroen Massar, Mike McCandless, Joel McClung, Chuck
    Mead, Tim Meadowcroft, Julian Mehnle, Cyrus Mehta, Michael Meier,
    Scott Merrill, Nigel Metheringham, Bob Miller, Nelson Minica, Anne
    Mitchell, George Mitchell, Dr. Ernst Molitor, Michael Fischer
    V. Mollard, Philipp Morger, Roger Moser, der Mouse, Matthew
    Mucker, Simon J Mudd, Graham Murray, Dan Nadir, Alain Nakache,
    Brian Nelson, Scott Nelson, Sam Norris, Daryl Odnert, Leonard Orb,
    Steven W. Orr, Seun Osewa, Gerald Oskoboiny, Harry Palmer, John
    Payne, Hans Dieter Pearcey, Randy Pearson, Matt Perry, R. Scott
    Perry, Kevin Peuhkurinen, Nick Phillips, Richard Pitt, Jordan
    Pollack, Bob Poortinga, Jim Popovitch, Kenneth Porter, Bob Proulx,
    Loic Prylli, Rich Puhek, Nils Puhlmann, James Pullicino, Jeremy
    Pullicino, Daniel Quinlan, Ramakanta, Suresh Ramasubramanian, Jim
    Ramsay, Eric S. Raymond, Kevin Reed, Alan Reider, Joe Rhett, Bill
    Rockefeller, Daniel Roethlisberger, Andrew Rose, Alex Rosen, David
    Saez, Hector Santos, Christophe Saout, Scott Savarese, Wayne
    Schlitt, George Schlossnagle, Theo Schlossnagle, Stuart Schneider,
    Neil Schwartzman, Frank Segtrop, Klaus Alexander Seistrup, Will
    Senn, Matt Sergeant, Yakov Shafranovich, Shevek, Mark Shewmaker,
    G. Roderick Singleton, Fridrik Skulason, Martin H. Sluka, Andy
    Smith, Karl J. Smith, Larry Smith, Steven Earl Smith, Richard
    Soderberg, Rolf E. Sonneveld, Robert Spier, Jonathan Steinert,
    Thomas R. Stephenson, Rick Stewart, Andrew Sweger, Bob Tanner,
    Daniel Taylor, Brad Templeton, Rahul Tongia, Laszlo Toth, Dustin
    D. Trammell, Mark Tranchant, Philip Tucker, Alex Van Den Bogaerdt,
    Dirk Van Mieghem, Rik Van Riel, Theo Van Dinter, Wietse Venema,
    Kelson Vibber, Peter Viertel, Paul Vixie, Martin Treusch Von
    Buttlar, Graham Wager, Matthew Walker, Jasper Wallace, John
    Warren, Odhiambo Washington, Terence Way, George Webb, Wechsler,
    Rick Wesson, Casey West, Peter Westlake, Nathan Wharton, David
    A. Wheeler, Weldon Whipple, Phil White, Sanford Whiteman, Colin
    Whittaker, Tim Wilde, Jan Wildeboer, Dan Willett Sr.,

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    Steven G. Willis, Chuck Wolber, David Woodhouse, Simon Woodward,
    Greg Wooledge, Paul Wouters, Samson Yormie, Zolta'N Za'Mbori, Joe
    Zasada, and Lloyd Zusman.

   The folks on the SPAM-L mailing list.
   The folks on the SPAM-L mailing list.
   The folks on the ASRG and MARID/MXCOMP mailing lists.
   The folks on the spf-discuss mailing list.
   The folks on the mailing list that shall not be named.
   The folks on #perl.

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Appendix A. Collected ABNF for SPF records

   This section is normative and any discrepancies with the ABNF fragments
   in the preceding text are to be resolved in favor of this grammar.

   See [RFC2234] for ABNF notation.

    SPF-record  = version *( 1*SP ( directive / modifier ) ) *SP

    version     = "v=spf" 1*DIGIT

    directive   = [ prefix ] mechanism
    prefix      = "+" / "-" / "?" / "~"
    modifier    = redirect / explanation / unknown-modifier
    redirect    = "redirect" "=" domain-spec
    explanation = "exp" "=" domain-spec
    unknown-modifier = name "=" macro-string

    mechanism   = ( all / include
                   / A / MX / PTR / IP4 / IP6 / exists
                   / extension )

    all          = "all"
    include      = "include"  ":" domain-spec
    A            = "a"      [ ":" domain-spec ] [ dual-cidr-length ]
    MX           = "mx"     [ ":" domain-spec ] [ dual-cidr-length ]
    PTR          = "ptr"    [ ":" domain-spec ]
    IP4          = "ip4"      ":" ip4-network   [ ip4-cidr-length ]
    IP6          = "ip6"      ":" ip6-network   [ ip6-cidr-length ]
    exists       = "exists"   ":" domain-spec

    extension    = name [ ":" macro-string ]

    ip4-network  = as in [RFC2373] [15], e.g.
    ip6-network  = as in [RFC2373] [15], e.g. 12AB:0:0:CD30

    domain-spec  = domain-name / macro-string
    domain-name  = domain-part *( "." domain-part ) [ "." ]
    domain-part  = as defined in [RFC1034]

    dual-cidr-length = [ ip4-cidr-length ] [ "/" ip6-cidr-length ]
    ip4-cidr-length  = "/" 1*DIGIT
    ip6-cidr-length  = "/" 1*DIGIT

    macro-string = *( macro-char / VCHAR )
    macro-char   = ( "%{" ALPHA transformer *delimiter "}" )
                   / "%%" / "%_" / "%-"
    transformer  = [ *DIGIT ] [ "r" ]

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    name        = alpha *( alpha / digit / "-" / "_" / "." )
    delimiter   = "." / "-" / "+" / "," / "/" / "_" / "="

Appendix B. Extended Examples

   These examples are based on the following DNS setup:

    ; A domain with two mail servers, two hosts
    ; and two servers at the domain name

    @           MX  10 mail-a
                MX  20 mail-b
    amy         A
    bob         A
    mail-a      A
    mail-b      A
    www         CNAME

    ; The reverse IP for that domain

    10          PTR
    11          PTR
    65          PTR
    66          PTR
    129         PTR
    130         PTR

    ; A related domain

    @           MX  10 mail-c
    mail-c      A

    ; The reverse IP for that domain

    140        PTR

    ; A rogue reverse IP domain that claims to be
    ; something it's not

    4           PTR

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Appendix B.1 Simple Example

   If <current-domain> is "", then this describes the
   effect various possible SPF records for would have
   on various <sending-hosts>

   "v=spf1 +all"
        -- any mail message passes

   "v=spf1 a -all"
        -- sending hosts and pass

   "v=spf1 -all"
        -- no sending hosts pass since has no A records

   "v=spf1 mx -all"
        -- sending hosts and pass

   "v=spf1 -all"
        -- sending host passes

   "v=spf1 mx -all"
        -- sending hosts,,
           and pass

   "v=spf1 mx/24 -all"
        -- any sending host in or passes

   "v=spf1 ptr -all"
        -- sending host passes
                (reverse IP is valid and in
        -- sending host fails
                (reverse IP is valid, but not in
        -- sending host fails
                (reverse IP is not valid)

    "v=spf1 ip4: -all"
        -- sending host fails
        -- sending host passes

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Appendix B.2 Multiple Domain Examples

   These examples show the effect of related SPF records: "v=spf1 -all"

   This SPF record would be used if mail from actually came
   through servers at and's
   designated servers are the union of and's
   designated servers. "v=spf1" "v=spf1" "v=spf1"

   These SPF records allow a set of domains that all use the same
   mail system to make use of that mail system's SPF record.  In this
   way, only the mail system's SPF record needs to updated when
   the mail setup changes.  These domains' SPF records never have to

Appendix B.3 RBL Style Example

   Imagine that, in addition to the domain records listed above,
   there are these:

    $Origin                   A                   A     A     A

   The following SPF records describe users at who mail
   from arbitrary servers, or who mail from personal servers.
        "v=spf1 mx
                include:remote-users._spf.%{d} -all"
        "v=spf1 exists:%{l1r+}.%{d}"
        "v=spf1 exists:%{ir}.%{l1r+}.%{d}"

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Normative References


Informative References


 Danisch, Hadmut.
      "The RMX DNS RR Type for light weight sender authentication",, October 2003,
      Work In Progress.

 Fecyk, Gordon.  "Designated Mailers Protocol", December 2003,
      Work In Progress.

 Wong, M.W., "Sender Rewriting Scheme", Work In Progress,

 DeKok, Alan.  The LMAP discussion document.

 Vixie, Paul.  "Repudiating Mail-From".

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   Meng Weng Wong

   Mark Lentczner
   1209 Villa Street
   Mountain View, CA 94041
   United States of America

   Comments on this draft are welcome.  In the interests of openness,
   before contacting the authors directly, please post to the
   spf-discuss mailing list.

   To join the mailing list, please see

   Developers of SPF-conformant software SHOULD join the spf-devel
   mailing list.  They also SHOULD consult the SPF Developers Guide at  While specifications
   published as RFCs are relatively static, the mailing list and
   developers guide are living resources.  They augment this core
   protocol specification with generally accepted implementation
   practices which are outside the scope of this document.  They also
   provide a forum for interoperability testing.