How to Remove IP Address from Blacklist

How to Remove an IP Address from a Blacklist

Each blacklist uses its own criteria for listing IP addresses of email spammers. Those criteria can include a variety of factors: technical, policy, and evidence-based.

Technical listings occur mostly because of mail server configuration issues (missing or incorrect reverse DNS records, missing or incorrect banner greetings, and mail servers operating within a suspicious range of IP addresses).

Policy listings happen because the receiving server does not wish to receive email from certain countries, or ISPs, that have a history of not handling “unsubscribe” requests.

Evidence-based listings are those where the server has received direct (or indirect) evidence that the sending IP address has been involved in sending unsolicited emails.

Mailbox providers tend to protect their users from spam and choose which of the blacklists they use. To determine whether or not an incoming email is spam, mailbox providers look at various characteristics of the email including the IP address the email is sent from.

If the IP address from which the email was sent is on an IP blacklist that a mailbox provider uses, the mailbox provider might filter the email as spam, bounce the email or drop it entirely.

Is It Always Necessarily Getting De-Listed?

All blacklists are not created equally. There is a lot of small blacklists that don’t really have a lot of weight.

There are real-time blacklists meaning your IP can actually pop up in and out of a blacklist and don’t necessarily stay on it.

There are major blacklists, for example, Spamhaus, that is notoriously difficult to get off of. A Spamhaus listing is likely to result in mail being blocked, while a listing on SORBS, UCEPROTECT, or SpamCannibal might not have much impact on your deliverability.

Large mailbox providers typically use reputable blacklists like Spamhaus, whereas smaller mailbox providers who aren’t aware of which blacklists are reputable might use less reputable blacklists.

And a service that asks you to pay for delisting or does not accept delist requests is unlikely to be used by major mailbox providers.

With that said, the first thing is to see how bad of a blacklist you’re on, whether or not you’re constantly on it or if you’re kind of popping in and out of it, and whether or not your deliverability problems result from the IP blacklisting issue.

How to Know If Blacklisting Prevents Recipients from Receiving Your Emails?

If your sending is impacted by the blacklisting of your sending IP address, you will most likely receive a bounce notification that contains a message indicating that your email was rejected because of a listing on a blacklist.

In most cases, the bounce message includes the name or URL of the blacklist. An example of this type of message is

"Message rejected due to IP [0.0.0.0] listed on RBL [X]"

If you do not see this type of message in your bounce notifications, it is unlikely that a blacklist is impacting your deliverability.

What to Do If Your Sending IP Address is Blacklisted?

There are two scenarios that involve different actions from your part:

#1. You are sending via email service provider or SMTP relay service.

Email service providers like MailChimp and SMTP relay services like Amazon SES use a pool of IP addresses they send emails of all their users through. They are aware that portions of their IP address space are sometimes listed on blacklists like SORBS and UCEPROTECT.

They carefully and continually monitor the reputation of their IP address space and work closely with mailbox providers and blacklist operators to identify and resolve the listings.

That being said, you should leave the resolution of the IP blacklisting issue to the ESP or SMTP relay service that you use.

However, if you don’t want your deliverability to be affected by other senders sharing the IPs with you, you can ask a dedicated IP address from your ESP or SMTP relay service. Thus, you will be able to build your own sender reputation for that IP.

#2. You are sending via your SMTP server.

As we said above, at first, you should see how serious a blacklist you’re listed on and whether or not your deliverability problems result from the IP blacklisting issue.

If the blacklist is small and does not impact your deliverability, you can live with it.

If the blacklist is one of the major ones and cause serious problems, you should try to get de-listed.

Visit the blacklist’s website and do a lookup on your IP address. Most blacklist databases will provide general listing reasons, but they don’t list email addresses tied to blacklisted IP addresses.

After you find out why you were blacklisted, take steps to resolve the issues as prescribed by the blacklist. For example, they may ask you to correct both forward and reverse DNS records, as well as SMTP banners, ensure your network and mail server are configured correctly. You may want to work with someone who is technically savvy to better help you.

Plus, you can scan all your network computers for viruses, install needed updates and fixes for your operating system, configure routers more securely, and establish stronger passwords.

How to Remove IP Address from Blacklist

If you think you have fixed the issues on your end, go back to the blacklist’s site and follow their IP address removal instructions. There are blacklists with a self-removal service and time-based removal service.

Self-Removal. It lets you take your IP address off the blacklist without much trouble. But your IP address gets listed again, it won’t be easy to get it removed the next time.

Time-Based Removal. It is a built-in, automatic process that removes lower-level listings (IP addresses that are light offenders) within a week or two. But if the IP address had sent spam more than once or did a high volume, the time period will be longer.

While trying to be removed from a blacklist, follow the rules and cooperate. If you are truly innocent of any deliberate wrongdoing or if you made an honest mistake, let them know. The more open and honest you are, the simpler it may be to have your IP address off the blacklist. You should be able to resolve any blacklist issues online. If not, and the blacklisting is troublesome for you, consider contacting the list maintainer by phone and try to resolve the issue that way.

The Bottom Line:

Spam is a serious problem. The purpose of blacklists is to reduce the spam on their email platform for their customers.

If you find your IP or domain blacklisted, reach out to each DNSBL service that lists you and ask them to remove your entries. Some of them will automatically retract your entry after some buffer period following the end of the spam campaigns that used them, others will not.

Read M³AAWG’s documents, especially the Help – I’m on a Blocklist guide for the exact guidance.

If you made a mistake, were blacklisted, and then de-listed, don’t make the same mistake again. You likely won’t be forgiven the second time.

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