Fixing the ‘User unknown in local recipient table’ Error Message: A Complete Guide

Fixing the ‘User unknown in local recipient table’ Error Message: A Complete Guide

There’s a lot that goes behind the scene when sending and receiving emails. When there’s error in the background, it will reflect in the deliverability of emails. One of the errors you’re going to come across is the ‘User unknown in local recipient table’ error. In this article, learn how to fix this error immediately.

Why the ‘User unknown in local recipient table’ error occurs?

If you’re receiving this error while handling emails, you’re not alone. In fact, many email admins and users have been reporting it. It is specially common in mail servers like Postfix and MailEnable.

When you inspect the log file for this error, the exact bounce message reads something like this:

MailEnable: Message could not be delivered to some recipients.
The following recipient(s) could not be reached:[]:
Remote SMTP Server Returned: 550 5.1.1 : Recipient address rejected: User unknown in local recipient table
As evident from the error message, the mail server failed to reach the said email address within the server. For the emails to get delivered, mail servers must find the delivery path of the email.

The delivery path can either be local (within the server) or remote (outside the server).

In a few instances, the email server may look for a mailbox for a remote email within the server. As you may know, this is bound to fail. There are three reasons why the email server may do so.
  • Bad DNS Record
DNS records hold important information about the domains and associated IP addresses. When there’s a mail to be sent, the mail server will look into the mail record (MX) of a domain in the DNS record. Then it decides whether the email address is local or remote.

When there’s incorrect information in the MX record, it will affect the domain’s email path.

It happens in mainly two cases:
  • You have transferred the domain to a different server, but didn’t remove the DNS records of the former server.
  • The changes made in DNS records weren’t updated in the server.
  • Improper Email Routing
Email routing settings in the mail server allow you to define a domain’s email path. When the Email routing is set as ‘Remote’, all mails will be sent to outside the server.

In some cases, there are configuration errors in email routing settings. This can result in the error. For example, if a domain has Google’s server in its MX record but the routing is set to ‘local’ server, the server will deliver mail locally.

This will lead to the ‘User unknown in local recipient table’ error since there are no local mailboxes.
  • Incorrect mail server setup
If you’ve set up the mail server incorrectly, it will result in this error. In certain mail servers like Postfix, a setting named ‘mydestination’ plays a vital role in delivering mail within the server. The setting looks like this:

mydestination = $mydomain, localhost.$mydomain, localhost
In the above case, all mails sent to domains listed in the setting will be delivered within the server.

When the ‘User unknown’ error pops up, you may have added the domain associated with the server name in the mydestination setting.

Also when there are no exact email address present on the server, the email sent to that domain will bounce.
  • Fixing the ‘User unknown in local recipient table’ Error
To fix this issue, all you have to do the following in the server:
  • Remove the incorrect entries in the DNS of the domain
  • Correct the email path for the domain as per the domain’s MX record
This should solve the problem. But at times, the error still remains. So the error might be in the mail server configuration. In such cases, you need to adjust the ‘mydestination’ and other configuration entries in the mail server. If you’re on MailEnable, you have to configure utilities like MERoute which forces all emails to a specified remote server. Doing so will route the emails correctly.

That’s how you deal with the ‘User unknown in local recipient table’ error. For more information, get in touch with the hosting support team.
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