The Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is an internet standard communication protocol for electronic mail transmission. Mail servers and other message transfer agents use SMTP to send and receive mail messages. User-level email clients typically use SMTP only for sending messages to a mail server for relaying, and typically submit outgoing email to the mail server on port 587 or 465 per RFC 8314. For retrieving messages, IMAP and POP3 are standard, but proprietary servers also often implement proprietary protocols, e.g., Exchange ActiveSync.

Since SMTP’s introduction in 1981, it has been updated, modified and extended multiple times. The protocol version in common use today has extensible structure with various extensions for authentication, encryption, binary data transfer, and internationalized email addresses. SMTP servers commonly use the Transmission Control Protocol on port number 25 (for plaintext) and 587 (for encrypted communications).