Return Path's Certified Whitelist: What's In It for Mailbox Providers?

Any mailbox provider familiar with Return Path knows that we establish partnerships with mailbox providers, and our end of that partnership is providing access to various products and services, including our Certified Whitelist. Email senders understand the benefits to them of being on our whitelist; in addition to getting access to placement data and auditing of their sending practices, a whitelisted sender is one that usually doesn’t have to worry about its mail not making it to the Inbox. What may not be clear to you, as a mailbox provider, is how you benefit from consuming our Certified Whitelist.

What Does It Mean To Be Certified?

When we convey Certified status to a sender, you can be sure that the sender meets a rigorous set of best practices and performance-based metrics. From the application process to ongoing compliance checks, Certified senders are held to the highest measurable standards. Our Certification Program only attracts, accepts, and keeps the highest quality mailers, or those aspiring to be, and you can be sure that any IP address on our Certified Whitelist is sending only wanted mail to your mailbox holders. You can of course accept mail from these IPs without consuming our Certified Whitelist (and you probably are doing so), but let’s look at the benefits available to you by consuming the list.

More Certified Sites Means Even Cleaner Senders

The metrics we use to determine whether or not a sender is remaining in compliance with our Certified standards are measured using data we receive from mailbox providers who are consuming our Certified Whitelist. The more partners we have who consume our list and provide benefits to listed IPs, the greater the incentive to those senders to remain clean and stay on the list. Cleaner senders benefit everyone, including your mailbox holders who want to receive mail from those senders.

It’s important to understand too that Return Path does not define these compliance metrics in a vacuum. We operate an advisory board of mailbox provider staff, and we are constantly getting feedback about the program  from them. We then use this feedback to tune and evolve our compliance metrics.

Using the Certified List Can Save You Money

The Certified Whitelist is a highly elitist whitelist, but it does represent high volume senders whose traffic can make up anywhere from 10% to 30% of your inbound mail flow. If you believe that these senders deserve to have their mail routed straight to the Inbox, then using the Certified Whitelist can represent up to a 30% reduction in usage by your anti-spam filtering infrastructure. This reduction can mean your getting more mileage out of your existing infrastructure, which will in turn result in lower financial costs for expansion and operation for each year that you consume the Certified Whitelist.

You Can Leave the Management to Us

If you’re managing your own whitelist, you know that it can be a bit of a pain. You’ve got to setup an application process, determine criteria for saying yes or no, figure out how to measure those criteria, and put a system in place to make sure that whitelisted senders continue to play by the rules. If you’ve got the staff and the resources to do this, great; you’re in a position that most of your peers would envy. However, if you’re already busy focusing on stuff like keeping your servers running, and keeping your customers and your bosses happy, and keeping your on-call alerts quiet, but you still want to offer a whitelist, then think about us. We’ve already solved the problem of managing a whitelist, and all you have to do as our partner is retrieve a file to a DNS server using an rsync cron job; you know, the kind of stuff you do in your sleep.


Between the security of knowing that Certified senders are the highest quality senders, the potential reduction in financial cost of managing your infrastructure, and the elimination of the need to manage your own whitelist, Return Path’s Certified Whitelist has many benefits for the mailbox provider. If you’re interested in joining the list of mailbox providers who already consume it, you should contact us.

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