External Contacts in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams allows you to communicate with other people from different organisations that also use Teams.

If you know the e-mail address of the external contact, you can see if they use Microsoft Teams, by opening a chat and entering their e-mail address. If Teams cannot find that person within your company, it will ask your permission to search externally.

Click on the action and Teams will determine if this person uses Teams.

If found, their name will be returned with the word External in brackets. Click this to initiate a chat.

Now you will be able to chat and call them using Teams

This form of communication is called federated. It’s called that because your organisation and the external contact’s have created a connection of trust between them in order for communication to occur. It is important to understand the limitations of this trust based communication.


As mentioned there are some limitations in features when communicating with a federated contact versus a coworker.

Communication TypeWorking FeaturesMissing Features
ChatShort Message Format
Long Message Format
Inline Pasting of Images
Inline Pasting of URLs with Preview
Share to Outlook
Delete or Edit Message
Save Message
Mark as Unread
Immersive Reader
Invite other people (internal or external and make Group Chat)
Share Files (workaround possible)
Delivery options (Important or Urgent)
Schedule a meeting from chat
Paste a video from Microsoft Stream
Send Praise
Use Approvals
Integrate with Viva
Include an App
CallingMake a Direct Call
Mute / Unmute
Share Screen
Escalate to Video
Invite other people to the call
MeetingsVideo or Audio Meetings
Share Screen
Meeting Chat
Share Files
PowerPoint viewer
Gallery Views
Background Blur & Replacement
Mute / Unmute
Attendee controls
Presenter controls
Raise Hand
Together Mode
Meeting Notes
No Missing Features
FilesNo working features unless external person is a guest in a teamUnable to share files using OneDrive for Business Integration
Use OneDrive directly to generate a share link (if allowed by your IT administrator)

Note that federated contacts are different to external contacts using Guest Access.

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