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Create distribution group in Exchange Hybrid

A hybrid environment is set up between Exchange on-premises and Office 365. This time you want to create a new distribution group. It’s also one of the tasks of the Exchange Hybrid test plan checklist. How will that work? In this article, we will look at how to create distribution group in Exchange Hybrid.


In this article, we will:

  • Create a distribution group in Exchange Hybrid
  • Test mail delivery to distribution group in both organizations

Create distribution group on-premises

Sign in to Exchange Admin Center (EAC) with admin privileges. This is on the Exchange on-premises server and NOT Office 365. Click recipients in the feature pane and click groups in the tabs.

We already have mail-enabled security groups. It means that we can use it as an email distribution list as well as security groups to assign permissions to resources. The group and the group members are synchronized with Azure AD Connect as part of directory synchronization solutions that is in place.

Click the + icon. Create a new Distribution group.

Create distribution group in Exchange hybrid exchange admin center

Add Exchange on-premises and Office 365 mailbox

Add the Exchange on-premises mailbox and Office 365 mailbox to the distribution group.

In our example, Amanda is an on-premises mailbox, and both Test Mailbox1 and Test Mailbox2 are Exchange Online (Office 365) mailboxes.

Read more: Create Office 365 mailbox in Exchange Hybrid »

Create distribution group in Exchange hybrid new distribution group.

Don’t forget to force sync Azure AD Connect or wait a maximum of 30 minutes before the sync is automatically run.

PS C:\> Start-ADSyncSyncCycle -PolicyType Delta

Verify distribution group in Microsoft 365 Exchange admin center

Sign in to Microsoft 365 Exchange admin center. Go to Recipients > Groups > Distribution list. Verify that the distribution group shows up in the Distribution list. Click on the distribution group.

Create distribution group in Exchange hybrid verify distribution group

Click Members and verify that you see the members.

Create distribution group in Exchange hybrid verify members

If you want to add new members or edit the distribution group, you need to do that from the on-premises environment.

Note: You can only manage this group in your on-premises environment. Use Active Directory Users and Computers or Exchange Admin Center tools to edit or delete the group.

Test mail delivery to distribution group

We did create the distribution group in on-premises Exchange admin center. The distribution group and membership successfully synchronized to Office 365. Let’s test the delivery to the members when we send an email to the distribution group from both organizations.

Send email from Exchange on-premises to distribution group

Start Outlook and sign in with the on-premises mailbox. In this case, it’s the user Amanda. Create a new message and click the To… button. Select All Distribution Lists from the dropdown menu. Doube-click the distribution group and click OK.

Create distribution group in Exchange hybrid select distribution group in Outlook

Click Options and enable Request a Delivery Receipt. Click Send.

Create distribution group in Exchange hybrid send email to distribution group with request delivery receipt

Everyone who is a group member will receive that message. The delivery receipt for the on-premises delivery arrived fast. After a short delay, the delivery receipt for the two test mailboxes in the cloud will arrive.

Create distribution group in Exchange hybrid message has been delivered

Send email from Office 365 to distribution group

Start Outlook and sign in with an Office 365 mailbox. In this example, it’s the Test Mailbox1 user. Click on the message which you send in the previous step. Click Reply All.

Create distribution group in Exchange hybrid reply all

Remove Amanda from the To field. Only keep the distribution group. Click on the icon to show the Message Options dialog box.

Create distribution group in Exchange hybrid reply all

Enable Request a Delivery Receipt and click Close. Click Send to send the message.

Request delivery receipt for this message

The delivery receipt will start rolling in quickly.

Your message message has been delivered to the following recipients

The next time, we will look at how to configure permissions in Exchange Hybrid.


In this article, you learned how to create a distribution group in Exchange Hybrid configuration. Create the distribution group in Exchange on-premises. Add the Exchange on-premises and Office 365 mailboxes members to the distribution group. After the synchronization occurs, test that the mail to the distribution group delivers to the recipients in both environments.

Did you enjoy this article? You may also like the course Exchange Hybrid. Don’t forget to follow us and share this article.



ALI TAJRAN is a passionate IT Architect, IT Consultant, and Microsoft Certified Trainer. He started Information Technology at a very young age, and his goal is to teach and inspire others. Read more »

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Hi,

    We have a hybrid scenario and a Citrix LB to balance traffic between our 2 internal servers. When we send a DDL email it hangs forever on the cloud. But if we change the NAT to bypass the LB and deliver traffic directly to one of the 2019 servers, it works. Have you ever faced something similar?

  2. Hello,

    Can you make a tutorial, how to migrate distribution group from on premise exchange to office 365 pls

    Thanks a lot

  3. We have a Hybrid Configuration with Exchange EDGE Servers, centralized mail transport is enabled. The EDGE Servers must route all mail flow between OnPrem and EXO.
    We use groups in EXO, all members of those groups have OnPrem Mailboxes, no User has EXO Mailboxes.
    When we send an e-mail from our OnPrem environment to such an EXO-group the mail goes via EDGE to EXO (this is correct), but then it will not be sent back using the EDGE servers but to our centralized inbound system. It leaves our tenant to be routet externally. That’s not what we want. Do you have an idea, why this happens?

    We ran some tests and set up an EXO mailbox for 1 User. if we send a Mail from that online Mailbox to the group, the mail will be routed correctly over the Hybrid way (EDGE Server) to the Onprem Exchange and the Onprem Mailboxes.
    The problem occurs only if we send from onprem mailboxes to exo groups, containing the users with onprem mailboxes. we need to ensure that the mails are routed back to the EDGE Servers using the hybrid outbound connector in EXO.

    Everything else works fine. Any ideas?

    Thanks in advance

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