Enhanced Mail System Status Codes
RFC 3463

Document Type RFC - Draft Standard (January 2003; Errata)
Obsoletes RFC 1893
Was draft-vaudreuil-1893bis (individual in app area)
Last updated 2015-05-19
Stream IETF
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Stream WG state (None)
Consensus Unknown
Document shepherd No shepherd assigned
IESG IESG state RFC 3463 (Draft Standard)
Telechat date
Responsible AD Ned Freed
IESG note RFCs 3461-3464 published 23-Jan-2003
Send notices to <gregv@ieee.org>
Network Working Group                                       G. Vaudreuil
Request for Comments: 3463                           Lucent Technologies
Obsoletes: 1893                                             January 2003
Category: Standards Track

                   Enhanced Mail System Status Codes

Status of this Memo

   This document specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the
   Internet community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
   improvements.  Please refer to the current edition of the "Internet
   Official Protocol Standards" (STD 1) for the standardization state
   and status of this protocol.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2003).  All Rights Reserved.

Abstract

   This document defines a set of extended status codes for use within
   the mail system for delivery status reports, tracking, and improved
   diagnostics.  In combination with other information provided in the
   Delivery Status Notification (DSN) delivery report, these codes
   facilitate media and language independent rendering of message
   delivery status.

Table of Contents

   1.   Overview ......................................................2
   2.   Status Code Structure .........................................3
   3.   Enumerated Status Codes .......................................5
     3.1  Other or Undefined Status ...................................6
     3.2  Address Status ..............................................6
     3.3  Mailbox Status ..............................................7
     3.4  Mail system status ..........................................8
     3.5  Network and Routing Status ..................................9
     3.6  Mail Delivery Protocol Status ..............................10
     3.7  Message Content or Message Media Status ....................11
     3.8  Security or Policy Status ..................................12
   4.   References ...................................................13
   5.   Security Considerations ......................................13
        Appendix A - Collected Status Codes ..........................14
        Appendix B - Changes from RFC1893 ............................15
        Author's Address .............................................15
        Full Copyright Statement .....................................16

Vaudreuil                   Standards Track                     [Page 1]
RFC 3463           Enhanced Mail System Status Codes        January 2003

1. Overview

   There is a need for a standard mechanism for the reporting of mail
   system errors richer than the limited set offered by SMTP and the
   system specific text descriptions sent in mail messages.  There is a
   pressing need for a rich machine-readable, human language independent
   status code for use in delivery status notifications [DSN].  This
   document proposes a new set of status codes for this purpose.

   SMTP [SMTP] error codes have historically been used for reporting
   mail system errors.  Because of limitations in the SMTP code design,
   these are not suitable for use in delivery status notifications.
   SMTP provides about 12 useful codes for delivery reports.  The
   majority of the codes are protocol specific response codes such as
   the 354 response to the SMTP data command.  Each of the 12 useful
   codes are overloaded to indicate several error conditions.  SMTP
   suffers some scars from history, most notably the unfortunate damage
   to the reply code extension mechanism by uncontrolled use.  This
   proposal facilitates future extensibility by requiring the client to
   interpret unknown error codes according to the theory of codes while
   requiring servers to register new response codes.

   The SMTP theory of reply codes are partitioned in the number space in
   such a manner that the remaining available codes will not provide the
   space needed.  The most critical example is the existence of only 5
   remaining codes for mail system errors.  The mail system
   classification includes both host and mailbox error conditions.  The
   remaining third digit space would be completely consumed as needed to
   indicate MIME and media conversion errors and security system errors.

   A revision to the SMTP theory of reply codes to better distribute the
   error conditions in the number space will necessarily be incompatible
   with SMTP.  Further, consumption of the remaining reply-code number
   space for delivery notification reporting will reduce the available
   codes for new ESMTP extensions.

   The following status code set is based on the SMTP theory of reply
   codes.  It adopts the success, permanent error, and transient error
   semantics of the first value, with a further description and
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