Forwarding, redirecting, and routing email with Google Workspace

As an admin, you can set up email delivery and routing options for your organization. These options include forwarding and redirecting messages, and routing your organization’s email to meet your requirements. This article explains the differences between these 3 email delivery types.

Email forwarding & redirecting

Although these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, forwarding and redirecting are slightly different:

Forwarding changes the content of the original message, and forwarded messages include the message history. The body of a forwarded message often includes some header information from the original message. Typically, forwarded messages are first delivered to the original recipient, then sent (or forwarded) to more recipients.

Redirecting doesn't change the content of the original message, and redirected messages appear to come directly from the original sender. Redirected messages can be sent (or redirected) only to new recipients that you specify, so the message is never delivered to the original recipient. Or, they can be sent to the original recipient and the new recipients.

As an admin, you can set up forwarding and redirecting at for your entire organization, and for organizational units. You can also set up forwarding and redirecting per user.

How email authentication is affected

Forwarding and redirecting messages can impact email authentication.

If a forwarding server isn't included in your SPF record, SPF authentication might fail. Messages might be rejected or marked as spam by the receiving server. Your SPF record should include all domains and IP addresses that send email for your domain. Learn more about SPF.

If a forwarding server modifies the message body in any way, DKIM authentication might fail. Messages might be rejected or marked as spam by the receiving server. Some anti-virus and anti-spam software modify message body contents before forwarding the message. Learn more about DKIM.

Email routing

Routing is a broad term that describes how your organization’s email is delivered, typically at the organization or organizational unit level. Google Workspace routing features include dual delivery; catch-all routing; inbound and outbound gateways; and rejecting, quarantining, and delivering messages that have been modified based on your policies and settings. 

As an admin, you can use Google Workspace advanced routing features to set up email delivery options for the organization in the Google Admin console. For example, you can deliver email to both Gmail and to an on-premise email server. Or, you might want to deliver incoming messages with an invalid recipient email address to a special address, called a catch-all address.

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