Is there any way to use a custom domain in Gmail without having a Google Apps account?

I have configured my domain to use:


And when using nslookup -q=mx **, everything looks fine.

But when I go into Gmail and add an additional "send as email" account, and try to send the verification mail, I get a "Delivery Status Notification (Failure)"

Technical details of permanent failure:
Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the server for the recipient domain ** by aspmx.l.google.com. **.

The error that the other server returned was:
550-5.1.1 The email account that you tried to reach does not exist. Please try
550-5.1.1 double-checking the recipient's email address for typos or
550-5.1.1 unnecessary spaces. Learn more at
550 5.1.1 http://support.google.com/mail/bin/answer.py?answer=6596 ww9si26275800igb.7 - gsmtp

Google Apps is not free any more, so that’s why I don't want to use it.

5 Answers 5


No, you can't do that.

Alternatives: Either you find some other free mail service like outlook.com for your domain, or you create a mailbox elsewhere and forward to your Gmail inbox. Sending from your Gmail account under a different address is possible because you can set SMTP to a different provider in the Gmail settings.

Reason: If you want to use your own domain with free gmail, you have to create the email address and mailbox elsewhere and then forward those emails to your Google inbox or access them through POP3.

Simply pointing your MX to Google does nothing because Gmail is not set up to receive mails directed at your domain. It takes both: Setting the MX records and letting Google know that it is the recipient of your MX records. This is what you do in the Google Apps Control Panel when you sign on with your domain.

Since Google won't let you do that with a standard Gmail account, it's not possible.

  • Ok thanks for the answer, i used domains.live.com to get a pop3 and smtp server for my domain and added those to my gmail, it seems to work so far!!
    – Peter
    Mar 1, 2013 at 17:06
  • I you want to do this, then the Live way is a dead end as they wont allow this for free any more..
    – Peter
    Nov 24, 2014 at 8:31
  • For others trying to do this it seems to work great with zoho.com they provide you with a few free adresses.
    – Peter
    Sep 30, 2015 at 6:49

You can get a free Google account with a custom domain without Google Apps.
In order to do this, you must already be able to receive emails on your domain.

  1. Set up mail forwarding for your existing email address / gmail address.
    • If you run an own SMTP server, this can usually be done by adding your main email address (e.g. [email protected]) to a .forward file in your home directory, ~/.forward.
    • If you are not operating your own email server, look for any setting that looks like mail forwarding.
  2. Create a new Google account for your custom domain.

    1. Google Homepage -> Sign In -> Create an Account -> "I prefer to use my current email address" -> https://accounts.google.com/SignUpWithoutGmail?continue=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F

    2. Now, put your desired address in the box.

    3. Click on "Next step".

    4. A verification email will be sent to your SMTP server. Paste the link from the email in your browser.

    5. You now have a (free) Google account for a custom domain.

    This Google account can be used to log in to any Google product, except for Gmail.

  3. Log in to your Gmail account (different from the account you just created). Take care to not "accidentally" create a new Gmail account for your current account, because otherwise your custom domain will become an alias, and the new Gmail account will be your primary address (more info). If you don't have an existing Gmail account, register a new Google account.

  4. Go to Settings -> Accounts -> Add another email address. and follow the steps to register an account (see Sending mail from a different address at Gmail Help for more details).

  5. From now on, at your primary Gmail account you will have the option to send mail from your custom domain:

    If you wish, you can set this domain as your default at (Gmail) Settings -> Accounts. By doing that, you will effectively be using Gmail to send/receive email with your custom domain, even though your Gmail log in details are different.

  • This doesn't appear to work. Just tried it and all email sent to the address bounce with the error "550-5.1.1 The email account that you tried to reach does not exist." It appears that Google will not accept email sent to your custom domain email addresses if you haven't paid for a Google Apps account. Mar 18, 2014 at 3:50
  • Confirmed that it's not possible. productforums.google.com/d/msg/gmail/vUtitDQIlg8/36oXVv1gCOwJ Mar 18, 2014 at 4:30
  • 1
    @SimonBrangwin Sorry about that. I've edited my answer with the steps I really followed to get a set-up that works for me (custom domain for Google products, using Gmail). FYI, my rationale for posting this answer: Once, I wanted to register for a Google product with a custom domain, but according to all existing answers, it's not possible unless you have an Google Apps account. Later, I found that it is possible, so I added this answer. Fortunately, I hadn't done anything of significance, so migrating to the new Google account was easy (just delete the previous account, and register again).
    – Rob W
    Mar 18, 2014 at 11:02
  • 1
    @SimonBrangwin The OP asked whether it is possible to use a custom domain (perhaps for branding purposes?) in Gmail without Google Apps. That is possible (and has been explained in the answer). Your goal is similar, but different. It is indeed not possible to get Gmail to accept mails directed at an unknown (to Gmail) domain unless you pay for Google Apps. If you already manage a server, then it's not too difficult to activate a SMTP server that forwards your emails though.
    – Rob W
    Mar 18, 2014 at 21:17
  • 1
    The selected answer already says that what you asked is not exactly possible, but this is a working workaround to use Gmail as your primary email provider (if you look past the inner workings.)
    – fregante
    Jul 7, 2015 at 1:13

A simple solution if you already have a server (e.g. VPS):

  1. set up a mail server (for example Postfix) to forward incoming e-mail to Gmail, and
  2. set up Gmail to route outgoing e-mail through your mail server.

Here's a quick tutorial: http://seasonofcode.com/posts/custom-domain-e-mails-with-postfix-and-gmail-the-missing-tutorial.html


Yes you can receive your emails to your Gmail inbox, but you need external mail server.

  • MX points to your external mail server
  • Setup forwarding for your domain emails to your Gmail
  • Setup user/pass for SMTP sending using secure port, and then add those settings in Gmail to be able to send emails from Gmail using your domain.

If you don't have some virtual host where you can install mail server, or you don't want to install mail server (yes, it could be complicated) you can find services which can provide you with smtp account for free.

Also, some domain registers (Namecheap) with DNS managers have an option for email forwarding which will bring emails to you Gmail, but you will need SMTP server if you would like to send emails from your own domain.


Alternatively, depending on what you are trying to achieve, you could do one of the following:

  1. Create a Google Apps account, but disable all of the services you don't want. If you want to use the domain for other things (another web server, etc.), you can get full access to the DNS and set that stuff up yourself.


  1. Set up your own mail server, but have it bounce all your messages to your normal gmail account as they come in. It could do this via "bounce" functionality (like Pine), or by connecting via IMAP and inserting the messages, etc. It might take a little script magic, but it's certainly not impossible.

Clarification: I am not suggesting you use Pine for this, I am suggesting you use some system that has a "bounce" feature similar to the feature named as such in Pine. "Bounce" sends the mail to a different server/account for processing (much like forwarding), but it doesn't make it look like a forwarded message. (i.e. the sender shows as the original sender, the message isn't quoted, etc.).

Another example of this functionality (which may be useful for you): http://mailredirect.sourceforge.net/index.html

  • Why a down vote?
    – Peter
    Apr 24, 2013 at 8:30
  • I didn't downvote this but I can explain the problems with this answer. The first option is exactly what you don't want, @Petoj, and the second option is a little bit off. You can certainly set up your own mail server but you wouldn't want to "bounce" the messages to gmail (unless this is like forwarding which it might be but there's no reason to use PINE), or use any wierd script that connects to your gmail inbox with IMAP and uploads the emails. Instead you just forward from your mail server to gmail, or use gmail to connect to your own servers mailbox and download the mail.
    – Segfault
    May 21, 2013 at 17:05
  • @SegFault : If you use a typical forward feature, then all mails will show the forwarding account as the sender, quote the messages, etc. This is why I suggested "Bounce". washington.edu/pine/user-guide/command/handle.html I am sure there are ways to do similar things with mail servers.
    – Noah
    Aug 23, 2013 at 1:52

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