Categories
regex

How can I validate an email address using a regular expression?

3888

Over the years I have slowly developed a regular expression that validates most email addresses correctly, assuming they don’t use an IP address as the server part.

I use it in several PHP programs, and it works most of the time. However, from time to time I get contacted by someone that is having trouble with a site that uses it, and I end up having to make some adjustment (most recently I realized that I wasn’t allowing four-character TLDs).

What is the best regular expression you have or have seen for validating emails?

I’ve seen several solutions that use functions that use several shorter expressions, but I’d rather have one long complex expression in a simple function instead of several short expression in a more complex function.

10

3074

+50

The fully RFC 822 compliant regex is inefficient and obscure because of its length. Fortunately, RFC 822 was superseded twice and the current specification for email addresses is RFC 5322. RFC 5322 leads to a regex that can be understood if studied for a few minutes and is efficient enough for actual use.

One RFC 5322 compliant regex can be found at the top of the page at http://emailregex.com/ but uses the IP address pattern that is floating around the internet with a bug that allows 00 for any of the unsigned byte decimal values in a dot-delimited address, which is illegal. The rest of it appears to be consistent with the RFC 5322 grammar and passes several tests using grep -Po, including cases domain names, IP addresses, bad ones, and account names with and without quotes.

Correcting the 00 bug in the IP pattern, we obtain a working and fairly fast regex. (Scrape the rendered version, not the markdown, for actual code.)

(?:[a-z0-9!#$%&’*+/=?^_`{|}~-]+(?:\.[a-z0-9!#$%&’*+/=?^_`{|}~-]+)*|”(?:[\x01-\x08\x0b\x0c\x0e-\x1f\x21\x23-\x5b\x5d-\x7f]|\\[\x01-\x09\x0b\x0c\x0e-\x7f])*”)@(?:(?:[a-z0-9](?:[a-z0-9-]*[a-z0-9])?\.)+[a-z0-9](?:[a-z0-9-]*[a-z0-9])?|\[(?:(?:(2(5[0-5]|[0-4][0-9])|1[0-9][0-9]|[1-9]?[0-9]))\.){3}(?:(2(5[0-5]|[0-4][0-9])|1[0-9][0-9]|[1-9]?[0-9])|[a-z0-9-]*[a-z0-9]:(?:[\x01-\x08\x0b\x0c\x0e-\x1f\x21-\x5a\x53-\x7f]|\\[\x01-\x09\x0b\x0c\x0e-\x7f])+)\])

or:

(?:[a-z0-9!#$%&'*+/=?^_`{|}~-]+(?:\.[a-z0-9!#$%&'*+/=?^_`{|}~-]+)*|"(?:[\x01-\x08\x0b\x0c\x0e-\x1f\x21\x23-\x5b\x5d-\x7f]|\\[\x01-\x09\x0b\x0c\x0e-\x7f])*")@(?:(?:[a-z0-9](?:[a-z0-9-]*[a-z0-9])?\.)+[a-z0-9](?:[a-z0-9-]*[a-z0-9])?|\[(?:(?:(2(5[0-5]|[0-4][0-9])|1[0-9][0-9]|[1-9]?[0-9]))\.){3}(?:(2(5[0-5]|[0-4][0-9])|1[0-9][0-9]|[1-9]?[0-9])|[a-z0-9-]*[a-z0-9]:(?:[\x01-\x08\x0b\x0c\x0e-\x1f\x21-\x5a\x53-\x7f]|\\[\x01-\x09\x0b\x0c\x0e-\x7f])+)\])

Here is diagram of finite state machine for above regexp which is more clear than regexp itself
enter image description here

The more sophisticated patterns in Perl and PCRE (regex library used e.g. in PHP) can correctly parse RFC 5322 without a hitch. Python and C# can do that too, but they use a different syntax from those first two. However, if you are forced to use one of the many less powerful pattern-matching languages, then it’s best to use a real parser.

It’s also important to understand that validating it per the RFC tells you absolutely nothing about whether that address actually exists at the supplied domain, or whether the person entering the address is its true owner. People sign others up to mailing lists this way all the time. Fixing that requires a fancier kind of validation that involves sending that address a message that includes a confirmation token meant to be entered on the same web page as was the address.

Confirmation tokens are the only way to know you got the address of the person entering it. This is why most mailing lists now use that mechanism to confirm sign-ups. After all, anybody can put down [email protected], and that will even parse as legal, but it isn’t likely to be the person at the other end.

For PHP, you should not use the pattern given in Validate an E-Mail Address with PHP, the Right Way from which I quote:

There is some danger that common usage and widespread sloppy coding will establish a de facto standard for e-mail addresses that is more restrictive than the recorded formal standard.

That is no better than all the other non-RFC patterns. It isn’t even smart enough to handle even RFC 822, let alone RFC 5322. This one, however, is.

If you want to get fancy and pedantic, implement a complete state engine. A regular expression can only act as a rudimentary filter. The problem with regular expressions is that telling someone that their perfectly valid e-mail address is invalid (a false positive) because your regular expression can’t handle it is just rude and impolite from the user’s perspective. A state engine for the purpose can both validate and even correct e-mail addresses that would otherwise be considered invalid as it disassembles the e-mail address according to each RFC. This allows for a potentially more pleasing experience, like

The specified e-mail address ‘[email protected],com’ is invalid. Did you mean ‘[email protected]’?

See also Validating Email Addresses, including the comments. Or Comparing E-mail Address Validating Regular Expressions.

Regular expression visualization

Debuggex Demo

16

  • 235

    You said “There is no good regular expression.” Is this general or specific to e-mail address validation?

    – Tomalak

    Oct 14, 2008 at 14:33

  • 50

    @Tomalak: only for email addresses. As bortzmeyer said, the RFC is extremely complicated

    – Luk

    Oct 14, 2008 at 16:23

  • 44

    The linux journal article you mention is factually wrong in several respects. In particular Lovell clearly hasn’t read the errata to RFC3696 and repeats some of the errors in the published version of the RFC. More here: dominicsayers.com/isemail

    Apr 8, 2009 at 15:56

  • 11

    Jeff Atwood has a lovely regex in this blog post to validate all valid email addresses: codinghorror.com/blog/2005/02/regex-use-vs-regex-abuse.html

    – CMircea

    Mar 22, 2010 at 18:26

  • 12

    RFC 822, section 6.2.4. specifically and explicitly allows capital letters, but this answer does not. w3.org/Protocols/rfc822/#z26 Perhaps the author of this answer intended for their regex to be applied insensitively. If so, that should be made explicit in the body of the answer.

    Apr 10, 2019 at 22:36

832

You should not use regular expressions to validate email addresses.

Instead, in C# use the MailAddress class, like this:

try {
    address = new MailAddress(address).Address;
} catch(FormatException) {
    // address is invalid
}

The MailAddress class uses a BNF parser to validate the address in full accordance with RFC822.

If you plan to use the MailAddress to validate the e-mail address, be aware that this approach accepts the display name part of the e-mail address as well, and that may not be exactly what you want to achieve. For example, it accepts these strings as valid e-mail addresses:

In some of these cases, only the last part of the strings is parsed as the address; the rest before that is the display name. To get a plain e-mail address without any display name, you can check the normalized address against your original string.

bool isValid = false;

try
{
    MailAddress address = new MailAddress(emailAddress);
    isValid = (address.Address == emailAddress);
    // or
    // isValid = string.IsNullOrEmpty(address.DisplayName);
}
catch (FormatException)
{
    // address is invalid
}

Furthermore, an address having a dot at the end, like [email protected] is accepted by MailAddress as well.

If you really want to use a regex, here it is:

(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:(?:(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t]
)+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|"(?:[^\"\r\\]|\\.|(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t]))*"(?:(?:
\r\n)?[ \t])*)(?:\.(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(
?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|"(?:[^\"\r\\]|\\.|(?:(?:\r\n)?[ 
\t]))*"(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*))*@(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\0
31]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|\[([^\[\]\r\\]|\\.)*\
](?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)(?:\.(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+
(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|\[([^\[\]\r\\]|\\.)*\](?:
(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*))*|(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z
|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|"(?:[^\"\r\\]|\\.|(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t]))*"(?:(?:\r\n)
?[ \t])*)*\<(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:@(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\
r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|\[([^\[\]\r\\]|\\.)*\](?:(?:\r\n)?[
 \t])*)(?:\.(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)
?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|\[([^\[\]\r\\]|\\.)*\](?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t]
)*))*(?:,@(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[
 \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|\[([^\[\]\r\\]|\\.)*\](?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*
)(?:\.(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t]
)+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|\[([^\[\]\r\\]|\\.)*\](?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*))*)
*:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)?(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+
|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|"(?:[^\"\r\\]|\\.|(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t]))*"(?:(?:\r
\n)?[ \t])*)(?:\.(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:
\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|"(?:[^\"\r\\]|\\.|(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t
]))*"(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*))*@(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031
]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|\[([^\[\]\r\\]|\\.)*\](
?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)(?:\.(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?
:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|\[([^\[\]\r\\]|\\.)*\](?:(?
:\r\n)?[ \t])*))*\>(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)|(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?
:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|"(?:[^\"\r\\]|\\.|(?:(?:\r\n)?
[ \t]))*"(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)*:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:(?:(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] 
\000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|"(?:[^\"\r\\]|
\\.|(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t]))*"(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)(?:\.(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:[^()<>

@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|"
(?:[^\"\r\\]|\\.|(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t]))*"(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*))*@(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t]
)*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\
".\[\]]))|\[([^\[\]\r\\]|\\.)*\](?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)(?:\.(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?
:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[
\]]))|\[([^\[\]\r\\]|\\.)*\](?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*))*|(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-
\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|"(?:[^\"\r\\]|\\.|(
?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t]))*"(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)*\<(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:@(?:[^()<>@,;
:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|\[([
^\[\]\r\\]|\\.)*\](?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)(?:\.(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\"
.\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|\[([^\[\
]\r\\]|\\.)*\](?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*))*(?:,@(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\
[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|\[([^\[\]\
r\\]|\\.)*\](?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)(?:\.(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] 
\000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|\[([^\[\]\r\\]
|\\.)*\](?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*))*)*:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)?(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \0
00-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|"(?:[^\"\r\\]|\\
.|(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t]))*"(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)(?:\.(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:[^()<>@,
;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|"(?
:[^\"\r\\]|\\.|(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t]))*"(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*))*@(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*
(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".
\[\]]))|\[([^\[\]\r\\]|\\.)*\](?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)(?:\.(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:[
^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]
]))|\[([^\[\]\r\\]|\\.)*\](?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*))*\>(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)(?:,\s*(
?:(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\
".\[\]]))|"(?:[^\"\r\\]|\\.|(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t]))*"(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)(?:\.(?:(
?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[
\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|"(?:[^\"\r\\]|\\.|(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t]))*"(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t
])*))*@(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t
])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|\[([^\[\]\r\\]|\\.)*\](?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)(?
:\.(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|
\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|\[([^\[\]\r\\]|\\.)*\](?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*))*|(?:
[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\
]]))|"(?:[^\"\r\\]|\\.|(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t]))*"(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)*\<(?:(?:\r\n)
?[ \t])*(?:@(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["
()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|\[([^\[\]\r\\]|\\.)*\](?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)(?:\.(?:(?:\r\n)
?[ \t])*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>

@,;:\\".\[\]]))|\[([^\[\]\r\\]|\\.)*\](?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*))*(?:,@(?:(?:\r\n)?[
 \t])*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,
;:\\".\[\]]))|\[([^\[\]\r\\]|\\.)*\](?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)(?:\.(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t]
)*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\
".\[\]]))|\[([^\[\]\r\\]|\\.)*\](?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*))*)*:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)?
(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".
\[\]]))|"(?:[^\"\r\\]|\\.|(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t]))*"(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)(?:\.(?:(?:
\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z|(?=[\[
"()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|"(?:[^\"\r\\]|\\.|(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t]))*"(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])
*))*@(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])
+|\Z|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|\[([^\[\]\r\\]|\\.)*\](?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*)(?:\
.(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*(?:[^()<>@,;:\\".\[\] \000-\031]+(?:(?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])+|\Z
|(?=[\["()<>@,;:\\".\[\]]))|\[([^\[\]\r\\]|\\.)*\](?:(?:\r\n)?[ \t])*))*\>(?:(
?:\r\n)?[ \t])*))*)?;\s*)

13

  • 45

    You’ll find that the MailAddress class in .NET 4.0 is far better at validating email addresses than in previous versions. I made some significant improvements to it.

    Dec 15, 2009 at 9:56

  • 9

    I think it sort of… doesn’t work… for simpler ids. [email protected] doesn’t validate. [email protected] matches only till [email protected] , the .com is not matched. However, something like “I am me”@[10.10.10.10] does work! 🙂

    – Raze

    Dec 15, 2009 at 11:24

  • 9

    Be warned that these RFC compliant regex validators will let through a lot of email addresses that you probably wouldn’t want to accept such as “a<body/onload=alert(‘lol.com?’+document.cookies) @a.a>” which is a valid email address in perl’s Email::Valid (which uses that huge regex), and can be exploited for XSS rt.cpan.org/Public/Bug/Display.html?id=75650

    Sep 28, 2012 at 6:03


  • 13

    @MatthewLock: That is no worse than [email protected]. You must not rely on email validation to prevent XSS.

    – SLaks

    Sep 28, 2012 at 17:19

  • 14

    @MatthewLock: No. You need to escape SQL queries (or, better yet, use parameters). Sanitization is not a proper defense.

    – SLaks

    Mar 2, 2016 at 14:49

596

This question is asked a lot, but I think you should step back and ask yourself why you want to validate email adresses syntactically? What is the benefit really?

  • It will not catch common typos.
  • It does not prevent people from entering invalid or made-up email addresses, or entering someone else’s address for that matter.

If you want to validate that an email is correct, you have no choice than to send a confirmation email and have the user reply to that. In many cases you will have to send a confirmation mail anyway for security reasons or for ethical reasons (so you cannot e.g. sign someone up to a service against their will).

5

  • 119

    It might be worth checking that they entered [email protected] into the field in a client side validation just to catch simple mistakes – but in general you are right.

    Aug 25, 2009 at 16:25

  • 140

    @olavk: if someone enters a typo (eg: [email protected]), they’re obviously not going to get your confirmation email, and then where are they? They’re not on your site any more and they’re wondering why they couldn’t sign up. Actually no they’re not – they’ve completely forgotten about you. However, if you could just do a basic sanity check with a regex while they’re still with you, then they can catch that error straight away and you’ve got a happy user.

    – nickf

    Jun 2, 2010 at 13:53


  • 5

    @JacquesB: You make an excellent point. Just because it passes muster per the RFC doesn’t mean it is really that user’s address. Otherwise all those [email protected] addresses indicate a very netbusy commander-in-chief. 🙂

    – tchrist

    Nov 7, 2010 at 20:09

  • 52

    It doesn’t have to be black or white. If the e-mail looks wrong, let the user know that. If the user still wants to proceed, let him. Don’t force the user to conform to your regex, rather, use regex as a tool to help the user know that there might be a mistake.

    – ninjaneer

    Feb 18, 2014 at 2:56

  • Security. If you validate email addresses properly and only allow safe characters chances of the email address being used in some sort of malicious way reduces drastically. For example in email header exploits.

    Nov 5, 2021 at 10:49