NHSmail Enabling collaboration for health and social care


NHSmail FAQs

Last updated: 05/03/2018 17:00

This page provides you with answers to the most frequently asked questions surrounding NHSmail and its accompanying components.

Click the navigation links below to view answers to the listed questions:

Non Delivery Reports (NDRs):

This list provides detail on the most common NDRs received by NHSmail users.

How do I find my NHSmail Local Administrator for my organisation?

You should follow the guidance within the finding your NHSmail Local Administrator guide.

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How do I raise an issue I’m experiencing with the NHSmail?

If you are experiencing a problem with NHSmail, please check to see if it is an existing issue by:

1. Reading the Service Status page on the NHSmail Portal help page to confirm if it is a known issue.

2. Contacting your local IT support or Local Administrator to check for any local issues.

If it is not an existing issue, please raise a call with the help desk. This can be done by emailing the helpdesk at helpdesk@nhs.net or calling on 0333 200 1133.

When raising an incident with the helpdesk, as much information as possible should be provided (the more information the better). E.g.

  • Provide information to enable the helpdesk to try and re-create the issue.
  • Provide screen shots of any error messages
  • Provide software versions being used (Operating systems, Windows versions, Outlook versions, browser versions, etc. including Service Packs)
  • For mobiles / tablets please provide the device being used (e.g. iPhone 6s)

Please also ensure that you/your users provide a direct contact telephone number so that the Helpdesk are able to complete call-backs.

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I use the NHS.uk Relay service - where do I go for help?

There are a number of questions and answers within the Relay Guidance section of the NHSmail support pages. If your query is not answered please contact the Relay helpdesk (Tel: 0333 200 4333 / Email: relayhelpdesk@nhs.net)

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How do I find out about the status of the NHSmail service?

The latest service status on NHSmail can be found on the Service Status pages within the Support Site.

The NHS Digital service management web pages (only accessible via an N3 / HSCN connection) also include details of any High Severity Service Incidents (HSSIs). To register to receive HSSI alerts please complete the subscription form

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Does NHSmail have a clinical safety case?

NHSmail has a clinical safety case, and this can be requested by emailing feedback@nhs.net.

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What are the NHSmail Service Level Agreements (SLAs)?

These are published within the Service Status pages.

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Does NHSmail support Windows XP users?

No. When using NHSmail, in line with national advice, you should do so from supported operating systems, software and internet browsers.

We are unable to guarantee that the service will work on any unsupported software, as Microsoft no longer tests compatibility of Windows XP or indeed Microsoft Office products that are also no longer supported (Office 2003 and earlier versions). Using unsupported software puts yourself and your organisation at risk of security exploits.

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What is the privacy shield policy and how is it applied to NHSmail?

You should see the following guidance documents regarding any data being shared outside of the European Economic Area. The data centres and services used to provide NHSmail and store data are located within the United Kingdom.

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How can I protect my account and the NHSmail service from common cyber threats including spam, junk, spoofing and phishing?

You should make sure that you are familiar with the NHSmail Cyber Security Guide which provides guidance and best practice on how to protect your account and the NHSmail service.

NHS Digital also publishes Information and Guidance on cyber security which you should review.

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How should I deal with spam and other junk mail in my mailbox?

You should report all spam emails to spamreports@nhs.net where they can be analysed and blocked. The process for reporting spam is outlined in the NHSmail Cyber Security Guide.

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If I have more than one role can I have more than one NHSmail account?

NHSmail is not funded to provide more than one account per person as detailed in the NHSmail Access Policy.

If you are performing more than one role to support publicly funded healthcare, you should consider using a shared mailbox. Guidance on how your Local Administrator can create a shared mailbox is available.

If this is not sufficient, your organisation must purchase an additional mailbox as a top-up service through Accenture by emailing nhsmail.development@accenture.com.

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What is the Password policy and how do I change my password? What if I forget my password?

Your NHSmail password must be changed at least every 90 days. You will be reminded by email to change your password 18, 10, 5, 2 and 1 day(s) before it expires. You must also change your password immediately if you think someone else knows what it is. If your password expires you should contact your local IT helpdesk / Local Administrator who will be able to assist you to re-set it. Following a password change, you should ensure you update your new password on all devices e.g. a mobile device, to avoid future lockouts.

If you have forgotten your password, you can re-set it using the self-service password reset. You will need to know the answers to your security questions and have registered your mobile number on the NHS Directory via the NHSmail Portal.

Guidance on how to change and re-set your own password can be found within the User Guide under the Password section.

NHSmail password requirements:

  • Password must NOT include your username (pre-fix of your email address).
  • It must contain a mix of three out of the following four character types:
    • Uppercase letters (A-Z)
    • Lowercase letters (a-z)
    • Numbers (0-9)
    • Symbols (!"£$%^&*)
  • It must be 8 or more characters long
  • It cannot be any of your four previous passwords
  • Spaces or commas cannot be used
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How do I keep my account active? What should I do if I am going on long-term leave?

Your account will remain active indefinitely as long as the password is changed at least every 90 days. If you are going on long-term leave (such as planned sick-leave or maternity leave), you should contact your Local Administrator who can disable your account for up to 18 months. When you return to work, your Local Administrator can re-enable your account.

If your account is not re-enabled within the 18 month period, it will be permanently deleted. For more information on the account lifecycle, please see the NHSmail Information Management Policy and the NHSmail Data Retention Policy.

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What do I do to close/merge an organisation?

Organisations will be closed automatically as we synchronise organisation data with the legal ODS data. If your organisation is legally closed then, as an LA, you should flag all accounts as leavers and join them to a legally open organisation. Shared mailboxes and distribution lists can be moved to your new legally open organisation. Please see the guidance for Managing Accounts In Closed Organisations

For a merger, you can again use the leaver/joiner process to move accounts to the new organisation or move the accounts from the closed organisation to the open organisation.

For any further help please contact feedback@nhs.net.

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Is there a limit on the number of accounts my organisation can register per month?

To support staff turnover registation limits are set by the NHS Digital NHSmail team.

For publicly funded health and care organisations the threshold is based on the monthly average number of accounts registered.

If your organisation supports the provision of health and social care the limit is 500.

If you need to amend your organisation’s monthly registration threshold please contact feedback@nhs.net

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What are the NHSmail service restrictions for organisations leaving NHSmail to meet the secure email standard?

There are no access restrictions for organisations leaving NHSmail and accrediting a local email service to meet the Secure Email Standard. In terms of the number of accounts, the monthly threshold for registering new accounts is 50 and will be reduced to 0 once the organisation is fully off NHSmail.

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Why am I unable to register any new users?

Each organisation is permitted to create a set number of new mailboxes during each calendar month. This registration limit can be viewed by Local Administrators via the Portal by going to Admin->Organisations and searching for the organisation that you administer. Switch to the ‘Settings’ tab to see the number of mailboxes created during the month to date and the organisation registration limit (displayed as ‘New Mailboxes Per Month:’)

If you require the registration limit for your organisation to be increase, either temporarily or permanently, please contact feedback@nhs.net with an accompanying business case that provides justification.

Please note: If a previous month’s quota is not used there is no roll-over to the current month.

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Can I set up an auto-forward from an NHS.uk account to an NHSmail account?

Automated forwarding of emails to an NHSmail account from an NHS.uk account is not permitted as NHS.uk accounts are not considered secure. Individual emails can be manually forwarded if required as long as there is no sensitive data contained within the email.

The other way around, so emails from an NHS.uk account can be forwarded on to an NHSmail account - please ask your local IT helpdesk / Local Administrator for guidance on how to do this.

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I am not an NHSmail org. How do I join / migrate to NHSmail?

For users based in England, please refer to the information held provided at Joining NHSmail

Scottish 3rd party organisations should contact nhsmail.scotland@nhs.net for further information related to the NHSmail registration process.

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ODS, OU and Display Name Queries

The Organisation Data Service (ODS) is an NHS Digital department that are responsible for tracking, coding and publishing accurate and up to date information that identify organisations and individuals across health and social care. More information can be found at the ODS site NHS Digital ODS

Each Organisation is assigned a unique code – the ODS code – which was historically also known as the NAC. Being able to identify organisation uniquely is crucial when handling information, particularly given the breadth of NHS Organisations and the information used within.

NHSmail use the data provided by ODS to update the information users and Local Administrators see in their Global Address Lists, the NHSmail Portal PeopleFinder, and the Portal administration tools. A synchronisation of data between the ODS databases and NHSmail is undertaken on a monthly basis so changes made to an organisation in ODS will not be reflected immediately in NHSmail.

As a result of this ODS synchronisation, end-users may find that if their organisation name has changed, or perhaps multiple organisations have merged that their Display Name and default address book will also change.

If there are any inaccuracies that require correcting with ODS data a Local Administrator should contact the NHS Digital Exeter Helpdesk on 0300 303 4034 or by email at exeter.helpdesk@nhs.net

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My address and location details are incorrect in the Global Address List or the Portal

A user’s address and location details are derived from the Organisation and Organisation Unit with which they are associated. If a user’s address details are incorrect they should speak to their Local Administrator or Local IT Helpdesk who may need to transfer your account to the correct Organisation and Organisation Unit using the leaver/joiner process documented in the Portal Administration Guide.

The address details for an Organisation is taken directly from the NHS Digital Organisation Data Service (ODS) databases. If there are any inaccuracies that require correcting a Local Administrator should contact the NHS Digital Exeter Helpdesk on 0300 303 4034 or by email at exeter.helpdesk@nhs.net. Changes made to the ODS data are synchronised with the NHSmail database on a monthly basis.

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How can I integrate and confirm a software application is compatible with NHSmail?

Details of the protocols that applications must adhere to in order to connect with NHSmail can be found in the Application Guide.

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How do I print a calendar using OWA?

NHSmail users who log into OWA using a fully supported browser (refer to the Browser Comparison Guide on the Policy and Guidance site for more information) can print their calendar by following the steps shown below:

1. Log into NHSmail and click on the ‘Access Email’ button.

2. Click on the ‘Calendar’ option in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

3. Press the ‘Print’ button to bring up the printer setting for your PC.

4. Review the Print Preview that is shown and click ‘Print’ again.

5. You should then follow local guidance regarding printer configuration the click ‘Print’ to send the calendar to your printer

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How do the calendar permissions work with Outlook – do Outlook sharing rules override NHSmail OWA rules?

Outlook and OWA rules are set the same. Rules can be applied in Outlook or OWA and they work hand in hand.

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Can the NHSmail service support third-party suppliers to send a Fax or SMS messages?

Yes, although NHSmail no longer offers a native Fax or SMS sending service. Organisations wishing to make use of Fax and SMS services can explore options offered by external vendors which, dependent upon the configuration chosen, may still provide the ability to send faxes or SMS messages using an NHSmail account.

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Spell Checker Queries

NHSmail now uses the browser to perform spell checks as all modern browsers support this (IE, Chrome, Firefox, etc.) provide this functionality by default. Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 provide native spell check functionality and can be configured by going to Settings -> Devices -> Typing and enabling/disabling the spell checker as required:

Windows 7 users can enable the spell check option in Internet Explorer 10 or 11 by following the steps provided below:

1) Click on Tools (also shown as the cog icon), and select Internet Options, then choose the Programs tab:

2) Click on ‘Manage add-ons’ and select ‘Spelling Correction’

Note: - IE version 7.0 onwards supports spell checker and in IE version 7.0, 8.0 & 9.0 this option is only available as a 3rd party add-on. Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome also have separate settings: For Google Chrome, type chrome://settings/languages into the URL box, then choose ‘Spell Check’ and ensure that the necessary language option is enabled For Mozilla Firefox, type about:preferences#advanced into the URL box, then check/uncheck the ‘Check my spelling as I type’ box.

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How do I view and manage my mailbox quota?

You should log into your NHSmail account using Outlook Web App at www.nhs.net. You should then click on the settings icon at the top right of the screen and select options where you will see your mailbox quota under account.

Once you have reached your mailbox quota, a warning message will appear on screen telling you that you have exceeded the storage limit for your mailbox and you will no longer be able to send or receive emails. You should empty the deleted items folder, delete any emails that you no longer need and use any available local archiving solutions. The NHSmail service is to be used for the transmission of data securely; it is not a data repository and should not be used as such.

Further information on managing your mailbox quota can be seen in the Outlook Web App user guide.

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What do I do if my mailbox is full and won’t send/receive email?

You should regularly check your mailbox quota and keep within quota as when your mailbox is over quota, you will not be able to receive or send emails. You can check your mailbox quota in Outlook Web App by following the instructions below.

If you are using an Outlook desktop client, you can check your mailbox quota by clicking on file and your mailbox quota will be shown. For example:

You will need to delete or archive content urgently, but you may find your deleted items folder is also full.

When items are deleted out of the deleted items folder, they are kept for a further 180 days in a recoverable items area in line with the NHSmail data retention policy. The recoverable items area is the same size as your mailbox quota (for example 4GB) and can also become full as it keeps the emails for 180 days, meaning that you are unable to delete any more emails.

To manage your mailbox and recoverable items area efficiently, you should delete items regularly rather than in bulk periodically.

You cannot delete this content as it will be retained as per the data retention policy. If this is the case, your organisation (the organisation that hosts your account) will need to complete a top-up service agreement with Accenture, to increase your mailbox size by contacting nhsmail.development@accenture.com. This may take several days to put in place, so please ensure plenty of time is allowed.

As stated in the NHSmail acceptable use policy, NHSmail is not designed as a document management system. Documents, emails or messages that are required for compliance or retention purposes should be stored within your organisation’s document management system, in accordance with your local information governance policies.

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Encrypted Mail Queries

A guide specifically related to using Email Encryption and a separate guide regarding Sharing Sensitive Information can be found at Policy and Guidance.

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Frequent/Auto-complete history not available when entering email address

When a user first starts using NHSmail or transitions to NHSmail from a local email service, the existing frequent contacts information will not available in the Outlook Web App (OWA) or Outlook. The frequent contact history will gradually build up again as the user uses OWA. All the contacts stored in the personal address book can be found by clicking ‘People’ at the top-right of the screen.

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What are the size limits for sending and receiving attachments by email?

For sending and receiving attachments, the size limit is 35MB.

On a mobile device, the maximum attachment size is 10MB. This size applies only to a mobile device. Attachments over this size will still be received by your NHSmail account.

For further information on attachments including the list of blocked file types, see the NHSmail attachments guide.

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What happens if you tick ‘this is a public computer’ when logging into the NHSmail Portal at www.nhs.net? What changes are there?

If using a shared computer you should always tick ‘this is a public computer’ when logging into the NHSmail Portal. You will still be able to log into your account but you will not be able to download attachments; you will only be able to view them online. This is a security feature to ensure sensitive data is not accidentally saved onto the shared computer,

If the box is not ticked when logging in, you will be able to download attachments.

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Will I automatically be logged out of NHSmail after a period of inactivity?

If you are accessing NHSmail via an Internet connection using Outlook Web App at www.nhs.net, you will be logged out after 30 minutes of inactivity. If you are on an N3/HSCN connection, you will be logged out after 8 hours.

If you are accessing NHSmail using a desktop application such as Outlook or through a mobile device, you will not be automatically logged out after a period of inactivity.

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How can a Local Administrator gain access to data within a mailbox when the owner is on leave or unable to give permission?

See the accessing data within an NHSmail account guidance within the Support pages.

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How do static and dynamic distribution lists work?

You can create distribution lists which are used to send an email to more than one person. There are two types of distribution lists:

  • Static distribution list – consists of recipients that have been manually added and remains unchanged until you add or remove new recipients. You can also include recipients that are external to NHSmail.
  • Dynamic distribution lists – consists of recipients which are automatically updated based on specific NHS Directory rules.

Your NHSmail Local Administrator will need to approve any distribution list you create before you can use it. They will also need to approve it each time you make any changes to it, for example removing a person or changing a rule. If there are over 50,000 recipients on your distribution list, your Local Administrator will ask the NHS Digital team to approve it.

For further information on the different kinds of distribution lists, how to create and use distribution lists and the different controls that are in place, please see the NHSmail Portal user guide.

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I am not receiving emails sent to a Static Distribution List even though I am a recipient.

If you have not received an email sent to a Static Distribution List (SDL) there could be several reasons.

1) Check with the SDL owner to confirm that they have added your NHSmail account to the recipients list.

2) Confirm that you do not have any email inbox rules set up that might be directing the emails to a folder other than your inbox.

In the event that you are still not receiving an email sent to the SDL, please confirm with the owner when the last email was sent to the distribution list then contact the NHSmail Helpdesk and provide the date/time details along with the SDL name and your NHSmail email address. The team will investigate further and respond.

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I am not receiving emails sent to a Dynamic Distribution List.

For Dynamic Distribution Lists (DDL), who receives the email depends wholly on the distribution list rule that has been set up by the DDL owner. Please check with the DDL owner that the rule applied will target your NHSmail account.

Similarly to SDLs, confirm that you do not have any email inbox rules set up that might be directing the emails sent to the DDL to a folder other than your inbox.

Note: If your organisation is undergoing a managed migration, this may also impact your ability to receive emails from a DDL as the distribution list rule will only target accounts that have been fully transitioned to NHSmail.

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General Distribution List Queries

Once a distribution list has been deleted, unfortunately it cannot be recovered and the owner would need to re-create using an alternative name. The email address of a deleted distribution list cannot be re-used. Preventing the re-use of DL email addresses ensures avoidance against emails being sent to distribution lists that have been re-purposed and may cause the sharing of privileged or sensitive information with recipients who were not supposed to receive such information. Further information regarding Distribution Lists can be found in the Portal User Guide.

Static Distribution Lists are limited to a maximum of 500 recipients.

Dynamic Distribution Lists (DDL) that target more than a certain threshold of recipients may require authorisation from a Local Administrator, Tenant Administrator, or Global Administrator. DDLs may also enforce a restriction regarding who can sent emails to the list based on the number of recipients targeted. The following table summarises the conditions and rules for DDLs.

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How can I add external contacts into a distribution list?

If you need to add someone external to your organisation on a distribution list, they need to be created as a contact in the NHS Directory first. Your Local Administrator will be able to do this for you. You can then follow the distribution list guidance in the NHSmail Portal user guide to add the contact.

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How do I give access to a shared mailbox I own?

To give access to a colleague to a Shared Mailbox that you own, you can do this via the Portal user interface. Click on the Profile option and then click on the ‘Shared Mailboxes’ button. Click on the Advanced Search option and choose ‘Shared’ from the Mailbox Type option heading. This will show all of the Shared Mailboxes that you are listed as an owner.

Click on the Shared Mailbox you wish to provide access to and you will be able add/remove members and other owners. For further guidance, you can review the Portal User Guide section on Shared Mailboxes.

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How do I give someone else delegate access to my personal mailbox or calendar?

Delegate access for user mailboxes should be performed by Local Administrators or Local IT Helpdesk agents on behalf of end-users. LAs and Local IT Helpdesks can refer to the Portal Administration Guide for assistance if required.

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550 Requested action not taken: mailbox unavailable

This error message translates to there either being a problem with the recipients account or that their mailbox is full or has been temporarily suspended.

Please double check the email address to make sure you have the right address, wait a while and try again. If it still fails, try contacting the recipient through another means to confirm their email address and that their account is active.

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550 5.1.1 RESOLVER.ADR.ExRecipNotFound; not found

There is a bug in Outlook in Office 365, for which the solution can be accessed on the following link: KB2784785

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5.1.1 smtp; 550 5.1.1 'email address': Recipient address rejected: aol.com

This error suggests that the recipient's account does not exist. Please double check the email address for any typos or contact the recipient though another channel and confirm.

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5.7.0 smtp; 530 5.7.0 'sender's email': Sender address rejected: Must use TLS

There has been a recent change in the NHSmail Relay where all email sent from/to secure domains must use TLS encryption. See the following link for more information: Secure Email Standard

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554 5.7.1 'recipient address': Recipient address rejected: ERS-RBL

This is caused by the connecting IP having a bad reputation according to the Trend Email Reputation Service. As a consequence the emails from this IP are being rejected. In order to request de-listing the owner of the IP needs to contact Trend at the Trend Email Reputation Service and submit a request.

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5.4.4 X-Postfix; Host or domain name not found. Name service error for name='domain' type=A: Host not found

This is the result of there not being a MX record for the recipient's domain. As a consequence emails cannot be delivered.

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5.0.0 smtp; 550 Unknown user

This message means that that recipient's email address simply does not exist. Please double check the email address for any typos or contact the recipient though another channel and confirm.

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4.4.1 X-Postfix; connect to domain[IP]:25: Connection refused

This message points to the recipient's domain refusing connection from the relay. The user / recipient needs to contact the team that supports the recipient's domain and request them to allow connection from the relay.

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'Delivery to these recipients or groups is complete, but no delivery notification was sent by the destination server'

As the NDR reads the emails were delivered successfully to the recipient, however the recipient's server is not configured to send a delivery notification back to the NHSmail relay. This is something that the team that supports the recipient's domain needs to implement.

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Host server[IP] said: 450 4.1.8 'email@domain': Sender address rejected: Domain not found (in reply to RCPT TO command)

This message points to an issue with the sender's MX record. The recipient needs to contact the sender and ask them to their local Support team investigate.

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NHSmail is delivered in partnership between NHS Digital, NHS Scotland and Accenture.


If you're unable to resolve an NHSmail issue with your local IT Team, you can contact the national helpdesk 24 hours a day, 365 days a year:

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