Why Does SPF Temperror Happen And Should You Be Worried About The Same?

It is prudent to understand that an SPF result is the outcome of an SPF authentication. SPF fail is primarily interpreted as an authorization failure, and the email will either bounce off or never enter the server. Errors may not always be permanent. Sometimes it could be an SPF temperror, as well.

spf permerror

Types Of SPF Errors

Before we get into SPF temperror, let us see the most common SPF errors that could affect your domain’s email deliverability

  • SPF none
  • SPF neutral
  • SPF hard fail
  • SPF softfail (soft fail)
  • SPF temperror (temporary error)
  • SPF permerror (permanent error)


Now, let us look at how the mechanism of authenticating an email works.

  • The mail server on the receiving end extracts the domain name from the address.
  • The connecting hosts’ IP address is checked to see whether it is listed in the SPF record in the DNS.

Sending and receiving an email is a pretty simple affair. The user sends an email to an address that they know, and the email server of the receiver checks for validation and then allows the email to pass.

Now, if the IP address is present, then the SPF check is passed. If the IP address is not currently in the SPF record, the email will not pass through. In that case, it will be termed as an SPF fail. The error could be either permanent (permerror) or temporary. For instance, SPF permerror Office 365 is when the mailbox provider could not verify the published SPF record.

Failure Points

However, there are many reasons why it may fail.

  • Unable to resolve the domain name in the DNS
  • The domain may not appear anywhere on the SPF record.
  • Incorrect syntax is one of the biggest reasons for email authentication failure.
  • The list doesn’t contain the IP address, as specified by the SPF record.

When any of the above turns out true, the SPF authentication result, as mentioned earlier, will be returned and then passed to DMARC.

spf temperror
spf fail

What Is SPF Temperror?

One of the commonplace errors is SPF temperror or SPF temporary error. A transient error is met with which usually turns out to be a DNS error. It is more of a DNS timeout that occurs while the checks take place. A transient error is generally short-lived, and a retry may yield an SPF pass.

An SPF temperror forces the email server to return a temporary failure. It will prompt the user to make another attempt to send the email, but its success is dependent on how the retry policy is set up. During an SPF temperror, the SMTP command will be sending a 4xx status code. Hence, in the case of an SPF temperror, the interpretation of DMARC is of no use. The error is used to return a code, and the SMTP session ends. The email is mainly deferred and not delivered till the user tries again.

Should You Be Worried About The SPF Temperror?

SPF temperrors are not the most difficult of errors since they are temporary by nature. It is generally born of a technical glitch that gets resolved at the earliest. The user needs to wait patiently for some time to see the updated results.

For repeated glitches across all multiple mailbox providers, DNS configuration problems need to be looked into, as mentioned earlier. If it is from a single mailbox provider, then in all probability, it will be an issue on their part, which might get resolved at the earliest.

spf neutral

Join the thousands of organizations that use DuoCircle

Find out how affordable it is for your organization today and be pleasantly surprised.

Interested in our Partner Program for MSPs and VARs? Visit Our MSP Partner Program.

Pin It on Pinterest