DMARC Records

Table of Contents


DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance. It’s an email authentication, policy, and reporting protocol that builds upon SPF and DKIM protocols to help email receivers determine if the purported message aligns with what the receiver knows about the sender. This makes it easier to identify spam or phishing messages, and keep them out of inboxes.

DMARC works with SPF and DKIM records. You must have these records present for DMARC to work, since DMARC is built around them.

Setting up DMARC

DMARC requires the addition of public keys into your DNS zone. The key is often provided to you by the organization that is sending your email, for example SendGrid, Postmark, or Google Apps. The key will be inserted directly into your zone as a TXT record.

If you’re given a string representing DMARC, it usually looks something like this:

"v=DMARC1;p=reject;pct=100;rua=mailto:postmaster@dmarcdomain.com"

Insert this into a TXT record by following the instructions for creating a record, selecting TXT as the record type, and entering the string you were given into the Content field.

Your provider will also give you a specific hostname to use, usually something like:

_dmarc.hostname.com

Enter the subdomain part of the hostname in the “Name” field. The subdomain is everything to the left of your domain name.

Your subdomain should be _dmarc. The leading underbar character is required.

Quotes and slashes?

If your provider gave you the DMARC record and it included double quotes around the record, or backslashes before semi-colons in the record, you can safely remove them. The quotes are handled automatically by our name servers, and the semi-colons will automatically be escaped if necessary.

Sometimes there will be forward slashes or other unusual characters in the DMARC record. Don’t modify those. If you have any questions or concerns, contact support.

Verifying your DMARC with dig

The dig tool is a good way to verify that your DMARC record is being returned correctly by our DNS servers.

To verify the DMARC record, query for the TXT record at the fully qualified domain name where the TXT record lives. For example, on the domain hostname.com, you can get the TXT record using the following query:

dig +short _dmarc.hostname.com TXT

This will return a result like this:

"v=DMARC1; p=quarantine; pct=100; rua=mailto:aggrep@hostname.com; sp=reject; aspf=r;"

If no result is returned, verify that you added the TXT record with the correct subdomain. Remember the “Name” field in DNSimple should not include your domain name, otherwise you’d create a record at subdomain.yourdomain.com.yourdomain.com.

Verifying your DMARC with an online tool

Verify your DMARC with an online tool like this one from MX Toolbox. This tool verifies that you have set up a DMARC record, lets you know which tags and values your record contains, and will alert you of any problems with your record.

Monitoring DMARC

DMARC will send daily reports to the email specified in the RUA tag to provide an overview of email traffic. These reports are sent in XML format, and can be difficult to read - it’s recommended you use a free tool like Postmark’s reporting to provide a weekly, human-readable report.

Technical details

If you want to read more about the technical details of DMARC, head over to DMARC.org.