Creating a static distribution list

A static distribution list is used to send an email to more than one person. A 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 external to the NHS. This is different to a dynamic distribution list which automatically updates recipients based on specific NHS Directory criteria. When you create a new static distribution list it will be added to the Directory. You will only be able to create static distribution lists for organisations that you have administrative rights over.

Please Note: Non-administrative users have the ability to create static Distribution Lists  (DLs ).

Create a static distribution list:

1. Click Profile in the navigation bar at the top of the screen




2. Click Distribution List from the dropdown menu




3.Click Add in the top left of the screen and select Static Distribution List from the drop down menu.



Your organisation will already be selected from the drop down menu

4. If you know the organisational unit the distribution list belongs to, click the + box to expand the Organisational Unit list and select a Organisational Unit and click Ok.

An Organisational Unit refers to the department, ward, building or site that are within your organisation

5. Type in the Name of the Distribution List



The distribution list cannot be renamed to an already existing distribution list address

Names must be less than 15 characters and contain no spaces or special characters 

The email address will be created automatically, using the organisation’s short code followed by the name you entered for the distribution list

6. Select Add next to Owning Users to add owners to the distribution list

You can add yourself as an owner by simply ticking “Add Myself As Owner”

7. Type the user’s name into the search box

Refer to  Searching for an Entry for more information

8. Select the owning user by checking the box to the left of the user’s display name


The owners of the distribution list you create must be inside your organisation

9. When all distribution owners are checked click Select

If you accidentally add a user as an owning user, you can remove them by clicking the red cross to the left of their email address


10. Select Hide this group from address lists if you would not like the distribution list to display in address lists

11. Enter the Description for the distribution list in the text box


This description will be seen when a user searches the Directory for the distribution list, so please make the description informative. There is a character limit of 250 including spaces

Adding authorised senders to static distribution lists

You must set who will be authorised to send to the static distribution list you create

1. Select whether the authorised senders will be only senders inside NHSmail, senders inside or outside of NHSmail including the Internet or select Specific Senders Only

If you select Specific Senders Only you will need to add their email address into the appropriate box and select Add. Their names will then appear in the Authorised Senders box


If you select senders inside and outside of NHSmail including the Internet, anyone who knows the distribution list can send emails to it

2. Use the search box to find and select authorised senders by checking the box to the left of the user’s Display Name

Refer to the Searching for an Entry section for more information

3. Click Select at the bottom of the page once all authorised senders have been selected

Adding recipients to static distribution lists

1. Click Add


2. Use the search feature or the navigation features to find and select Recipients for the Distribution List by checking the box to the left of the user’s Display Name

 3. When a recipient is successfully added to the distribution list their name will appear in the Members box. Contact Directory entries show at the end of this list

 4. When all recipients are checked click Select

Setting approval options for static distribution lists

You can set the options on whether people need approval to join or leave the group

1. Select whether ability to join the group is open, closed or requires owner approval

Open: Anyone can join this group without being approved by the group owners
Closed: Members can be added only by the group owners. All requests to join will be rejected automatically
Owner Approval: All requests are approved or rejected by the group owner

2. Select whether ability to leave the group is open or closed


Open: Anyone can leave this group

Closed: Members can only be removed by the owners

Members can go to Options > Groups in Outlook Web App to join and leave static distribution groups based on the settings in this section

Check that all details for the distribution list are correct

3. Click Create


Please Note: When a Distribution List is created by an owner who has no admin roles, it will go for LA approval. If the LA encounters an error when approving and the status of the Distribution List is still showing as pending, please raise a ticket with the NHSmail Helpdesk by emailing

Static Distribution List Membership Approval

If static distribution list contains members that span multiple organisations or child organisations, the SDL will need approval from LOAs from all participating organisations regardless of the number of recipients

Additional Information:

  • There is a maximum number of 20,000 recipients for a static distribution list and a maximum of 25 owners. 

  • If you wish to add an external recipient (email address other than you will need to first add the recipient as a contact. Refer to the Contact management module for more information

  • A Static Distribution List which is already approved, when edited to consist less than 500 users in total, will not need to be approved again

  • Multiple organisations – no specific approval process for multiple organisations

  • Specific senders – any distribution list with more than 500 recipients must have specific senders set and cannot be open to reply-all from anyone

  • Multiple organisations – no specific approval process for multiple organisations

  • Static distribution list edit – no approvals if static distribution list is edited by a LA

  • Audit – ensure that all of the actions above are audited

  • A monthly summary report is sent to local administrator(s) on shared mailboxes, resource mailboxes and distribution lists which do not have an owner.

Last Reviewed Date 19/04/2024
Updated on 19/04/2024

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