How to publish email bounce notifications to an SQS queue

Published on

Last Updated on

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min

Recently, I had to work on a task to notify us in slack whenever an email sent through Amazon Simple Email Service(SES) bounced. Rohan Deshpande has a great article which shows how to handle bounces and complaints. Since this article leans heavily on his approach, I recommend reading that first.

Go on, I will wait.

Oh, Good, you are back. So you might be wondering that if Rohan has already written the article, why am I writing this and more importantly, why should you spend your precious time reading this?

Well, although his solution solves the problem, it requires me to use the AWS Management Console. However, I want to leverage terraform so that any changes I make can be easily deployed to all the environments.

Step 1: Create an Amazon SQS queue

I will setup the SQS queue using Resource: aws_sqs_queue

resource "aws_sqs_queue" "ses_bounces_queue" {
  name                      = "ses_bounces_queue"
  message_retention_seconds = 1209600
  redrive_policy            = "{\"deadLetterTargetArn\":\"${aws_sqs_queue.ses_dead_letter_queue.arn}\",\"maxReceiveCount\":4}"

resource "aws_sqs_queue" "ses_dead_letter_queue" {
  name = "ses_dead_letter_queue"
  • Set the human-readable name of the queue to ses_bounces_queue so that terraform does not assign a random name to our queue.
  • Set the number of seconds SQS retains the message to 14 days(1209600 seconds).
  • Set up our dead letter queue to handle messages that could not be handled to help debug and isolate problems. Read more about SQS Dead-Letter Queues.

Step 2: Create an Amazon SNS topic_arn

I will set up the SNS topic using Resource: aws_sns_topic

resource "aws_sns_topic" "ses_bounces_topic" {
  name     = "ses_bounces_topic"
  • Set the human-readable name of the queue to ses_bounces_topic so that terraform does not assign a random name to our queue.

Step 3: Configure the Amazon SNS topic to publish to the SQS queue

I will use Resource: aws_sns_topic_subscription to automatically place the messages sent to the SNS topic in the SQS queue.

resource "aws_sns_topic_subscription" "ses_bounces_subscription" {
  topic_arn = aws_sns_topic.ses_bounces_topic.arn
  protocol  = "sqs"
  endpoint  = aws_sqs_queue.ses_bounces_queue.arn
  • Set the ARN of the SNS topic to subscribe to ses_bounces_topic.
  • Set the protocol to sqs so that we can send the data to the SQS queue.
  • Set the endpoint to ses_bounces_queue.

Step 4: Configure Amazon SES to publish bounce notifications using ses-bounces-topic to ses-bounces-queue

I will use Resource: ses_identity_notification_topic to set the SNS topic to use when delivering bounce notifications.

resource "aws_ses_identity_notification_topic" "ses_bounces" {
  topic_arn                = aws_sns_topic.ses_bounces_topic.arn
  notification_type        = "Bounce"
  identity                 = email_domain
  include_original_headers = true
  • Set the Amazon SNS topic to ses_bounces_topic.
  • Set the notification type to Bounce.
  • Set the identity to the email domain, e.g. setting to will set it for emails in the domain.
  • Include the original email headers in the SNS notifications.

Step 5: Ensure that IAM policies are in place so that Amazon SNS has access to publish to the appropriate SQS queues

I will use Data Source: aws_iam_policy_document to configure the IAM policy to allow the SNS topic to send messages to the SQS queue and use Resource: aws_sqs_queue_policy to set the policy of the queue.

data "aws_iam_policy_document" "ses_bounces_queue_iam_policy" {
  policy_id = "SESBouncesQueueTopic"
  statement {
    sid       = "SESBouncesQueueTopic"
    effect    = "Allow"
    actions   = ["SQS:SendMessage"]
    resources = ["${aws_sqs_queue.ses_bounces_queue.arn}"]
    principals {
      identifiers = ["*"]
      type        = "*"
    condition {
      test     = "ArnEquals"
      values   = ["${aws_sns_topic.ses_bounces_topic.arn}"]
      variable = "aws:SourceArn"

resource "aws_sqs_queue_policy" "ses_queue_policy" {
  queue_url =
  policy    = data.aws_iam_policy_document.ses_bounces_queue_iam_policy.json
  • Set an id for the policy document.
  • Allow the sending of a message to the ses_bounces_queue SQS queue.
  • Allow it on all principles. We can probably lock it down to just AWS ARN's.
  • Constrain the policy so that access is allowed only when the request originates from ses_bounces_topic.
  • Set the URL of the SQS queue to ses_bounces_queue.
  • Set the policy.

Next Steps

You can see the code here.

So far, we have configured AWS to publish bounce notifications to an SQS queue. In the next post(s), we will see how we can configure an AWS Lambda to process the messages in the queue and send a custom message to a Slack channel.

Read Part2