Why Teams Sometimes Won’t Allow External Users In

Teams Blocks External Users as Guests and From Sharing Channels

A reader asked why Teams blocks external users. In this case, they had difficulties adding a new guest account to a team’s membership. Anytime they attempted to add the guest by typing in their email address, Teams responds with “we didn’t find any matches” (Figure 1).

Teams won't add a new guest
Figure 1: Teams won’t add a new guest

The error text isn’t very useful, and Microsoft could improve it. What it means is that Teams couldn’t match the email address of the external user against the set permitted for the team.

The usual problem is that something blocked guest access for the team. This can happen because:

  • The organization blocks guest access for all teams.
  • The organization uses sensitivity labels to control guest access, and the label assigned to the team blocks guests.
  • If the organization doesn’t use sensitivity labels, administrators can block guest access for a specific team by updating the Azure AD directory settings for the Microsoft 365 group (this is what sensitivity labels do when they block access).
  • The user attempting to add the guest doesn’t have the necessary permission. Normally, team owners can add guests, but the organization can restrict this capability to administrators.

If guests can join other teams, no organization-wide block on guests is present. If one is, administrators can lift it by updating the Microsoft 365 Groups settings in the Microsoft 365 admin center (Figure 2).

Organization setting allowing guests to join Teams and Microsoft 365 Groups
Figure 2: Organization setting allowing guests to join Teams and Microsoft 365 Groups

Container Management Blocks

If the organization uses sensitivity labels for container management, the block might be present because the team inherited the setting from its sensitivity label, so it’s the next thing to check. Go to the Information protection section of the Microsoft Purview Compliance portal and check the label assigned to the team. Its settings (or maybe just the description – Figure 3) will tell you if the label blocks guest members.

Sensitivity label settings could block guest access
Figure 3: Sensitivity label settings could block guest access

Not all organizations use sensitivity labels for container management. The block on guest access can be applied using PowerShell, so you’d need to check the group settings to make sure that they permit guest access (or not).

Finally, check the External collaboration settings under External identities in the Azure AD admin center to check that someone hasn’t restricted the ability of group owners to add guests.

Azure AD B2B Collaboration Blocked Domains

While discussing External collaboration settings, we should cover a related issue, which is when group owners can’t add a guest account because the Azure AD B2B collaboration policy blocks the guest’s domain. When this happens, Teams accepts the external email address, but then fails when it attempts to create the guest account (Figure 4).

Teams can't add a guest from a blocked domain
Figure 4: Teams can’t add a guest from a blocked domain

The solution is to amend the Azure B2B collaboration policy to remove the block on the domain. If this isn’t possible, the external person can never become a guest using an email address from the blocked domain.

Can’t Share a Shared Channel

Teams displays the unhelpful error text as a catch-all for multiple conditions. Teams flags the same error if you attempt to share a shared channel with an external user from another Microsoft 365 tenant when cross-tenant access settings don’t allow access from the external user’s domain (Figure 5).

Teams can't add an external user to a shared channel because no trust exists
Figure 5: Teams can’t add an external user to a shared channel because no trust exists

The same kind of logic applies. You asked Teams to share a channel. It checked the set of domains it can share channels with and found that the requested domain isn’t in the set, so issued the “we didn’t find any matches” error.

In this case, the solution is to amend the cross-tenant access settings in your tenant to allow inbound access for external users from the other domain, and to ask the administrator of the other domain to permit outbound access to your domain. Cross-tenant access works on a mutual trust basis, so you can’t share a channel with someone from another unless their tenant is happy for this to happen.

Take Your Time

After making any changes, it’s important to be patient and allow the changes to replicate within Azure AD and Teams. Eventually (after about 24 hours), the planets align, and permissions are in place, and you’ll be able to add external users as guests to team memberships or share channels with people in other tenants.

Learn about managing guest access for Teams and Microsoft 365 Groups and the rest of Office 365 by subscribing to the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook. Use our experience to understand what’s important and how best to protect your tenant.

4 Replies to “Why Teams Sometimes Won’t Allow External Users In”

  1. Hi, we open external federation for everyone. All in our company can chatt with external person exept 1 person. If he type in external persons mail adress he get no result. Works for others. Thet have the same Teams policy.

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