Distribution Group Migration to Office 365 Step By Step Explained

Migrate Distribution Group to Office 365 Safely – Comprehensive Guide
Maarten ~ Modified: October 27th, 2022 ~ Microsoft Office 365 ~ 7 Minutes Reading

Distribution groups are sometimes referred to as distribution lists and are used for sending alerts via emails to a group of people in an organization. However, comparatively, Office 365 group is a more prominent collaborative than the distribution group. Hence, it is suggested to perform distribution group migration to Office 365 group.

But, Why Office 365 Group?

There are some solid reasons why users consider Office 365 group as their collaborative platform. For instance;

Office 365 group well integrates with Sharepoint, Team, OneNote, etc. Further, it includes access type defining features. In addition to that, an option like guest access to email conversions, contacts, files, etc. is easily available.

Above all, with Office 365 groups, you can easily discover content in Office 365 groups.

By upgrading the distribution list to Office 365 group, you can improve the features and capabilities of groups in your organization.

Now, the question comes;

What Options Do You Have to Transfer Distribution Group to Office 365 Group?

Microsoft offers some in-house methods to upgrade the Distribution Lists(DLs) to Office 365 group. Such as using EAC(Exchange Admin Center) and/or PowerShell scripts.

However, there are some prerequisites you need to consider before attempting to upgrade the distribution group or distribution list. Also, you can go through the Microsoft Office 365 migration checklist.


  • You must be a global admin or Exchange admin to upgrade DLs.
  • The group must have an owner with a mailbox.
  • For upgrading distribution groups, you must ensure that they are cloud-managed, simple, and non-nested distribution groups.
  • It shouldn’t consist of more than 100 owners.

Now, let’s take a look at various techniques to upgrade distribution groups.

Manual Method #1- Detailed Process to Upgrade the Distribution Group Through EAC

Before attempting the approach, you must know that moving distribution group content to Office 365 is a permanent change. You can’t reverse the process.

  • Go to EAC then navigate to Recipients and then again to Groups
  • Choose the distribution group that you want to upgrade.
  • After that, pick the Upgrade distribution group from the toolbar.
  • Finally, press Upgrade. 

Once you click on upgrade, the upgradation process will immediately begin.

However, sometimes the above method fails to upgrade the distribution list. The reason could be any of the following.

  1. The distribution lists(DLs) that you are trying to upgrade must not be eligible to be upgraded.
  2. If the distribution list has the  MemberJoinRestrictions or MemberDepartRestriction set to closed then it can’t be upgraded.
  3. If the owner of the distribution group has not had the authority to create Office 365 group then the distribution list can’t be upgraded.

Now, let’s move on to the next manual approach.

Manual Method #2- Use PowerShell Commands to Migrate/Upgrade Distribution Groups to Office 365 Groups

The previous manual method was suitable if you want to upgrade only one DL at a time. However, with PowerShell commands, you get the flexibility to upgrade one or multiple DLs at a time.

To migrate a single DL, run the below command.

Upgrade-DistributionGroup -DlIdentities<Dl SMTP username@domain.com>

To migrate multiple DLs at a time, run the following command.

Upgrade-DistributionGroup -DlIdentities<DL SMTP username1@xyz.com>, <DL SMTP username2@xyz.com>, <DL SMTP username3@xyz.com>, <DL SMTP username4@xyz.com>

And, if you want to find out all the eligible DLs and upgrade to Office 365 then run the below command.

Get-EligibleDistributionGroupForMigration | Foreach-Object { Upgrade-DistributionGroup -DlIdentities $_.PrimarySMTPusername@domain.com }

[Important Note: If you want to use the PowerShell commands then make sure that you are well-versed in executing this high-level command. Or else, avoid using the PowerShell command.]

As a matter of fact, certain distribution lists can’t be upgraded in the first place. Let’s find out the same.

The Distribution Groups That You Can’t Upgrade:

  1. First of all, the distribution list must be a Child Group or a member of another group to perform distribution group migration to Office 365. 
  2. Suppose a distribution group is a part of Sender Restriction in another DL then you can not upgrade the same.
  3. If the distribution list has an alias and contains Special Characters then it can’t be converted/upgraded/migrated into Office 365 groups.
  4. You can’t upgrade distribution lists that contain member RecipientTypeDetails other than User Mailbox, Shared Mailbox, Team Mailbox, and MailUser.

Since the manual methods to upgrade distribution groups proved to be unreliable, it’s better to opt for a one-stop solution. That is, to take professional help and use the Migrator Wizard Office 365 Migration to migrate the DL data.

Download Now Purchase Now

Let’s get familiar with the software for a better understanding of the migration process.

Ultimate Way To Perform The Distribution Group Migration To Office 365 Using Tried and Tested Software

Without proper planning & knowledge, the entire effort to migrate Distribution list data could go in vain. Hence, IT experts came up with a solution(the above-mentioned tool) that meets all kinds of migration needs.

Besides, the tool has its own set of benefits stored for the users. Such as;

  1. The software has a simple GUI. That means both non-technical and technical users can easily work with the software to execute the process.
  2. No complicated PowerShell scripts are involved in the tool to perform the migration.
  3. Further, it maintains data integrity throughout the process. So, you can sit back & relax cause there is no fear of data loss.
  4. It has various advanced Filter options including a Date Filter so that you can carry out a selective migration.
  5. Further, you get 3 different options to fetch the groups for the migration.
  6. Also, the tool provides you with 3 different types of Re-Run migration options to re-do the process just in case some of the items are skipped during the initial run.
  7. More importantly, your data is safely migrated to the destination. And, if you have multiple distribution groups to migrate at a time then you can absolutely do that with the software.

Also Read: How to Transfer Office 365 Mailbox to Another Account? Best Way Explained

Now, let’s discuss the working steps of the software.

Simple Step-by-Step Guide to Migrate Distribution Group Data To Office 365

You are just a few clicks away to move the desired DL content to Microsoft 365 groups. Here are the steps you can follow to move distribution groups.

Step 1. Download the tool by pressing the Download Now option & launch it on your system.

Step 2. Next, navigate to the ‘Set Up’ section & click on ‘Office 365’ for both the source and destination.


Step 3. Scroll down to the bottom & tick the ‘Groups’ including other necessary checkboxes. [Note: Make sure to enable the ‘Use Group Mapping’ sliders ]

Step 4. After that, go to the ‘Source & Destination tab, & enter the ‘Admin Email’ & ‘Application ID’. Then, Validate the Source & Destination permissions & click on ‘Next’.


Step 5. Next, go to the Resources tab. There you will get three options to specify the distribution group(s) from the source account. You may select any one option from ‘Fetch Group’, ‘Import Groups’, or ‘Download Template’.


Step 6. Once you fetch the groups, validate the source & destination permissions once again. 


Step 7. Finally, click on Start Migration to perform the distribution group migration to Office 365.

You may find it helpful: How to perform Office 365 tenant to tenant migration step by step?


Users used to rely on distribution groups for sending alerts to a group of people. And, that was before Office 365 group. Now, owing to the various benefits of the Office 365 platform, users are willing to perform distribution group migration to Office 365 group. Hence, to help the users achieve a successful migration and experience the powerful collaboration platform, we’ve discussed various methods.