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A robust email address syntax and deliverability validation library.

Project description

email-validator: Validate Email Addresses

A robust email address syntax and deliverability validation library for Python by Joshua Tauberer.

This library validates that a string is of the form This is the sort of validation you would want for an email-based login form on a website.

Key features:

  • Checks that an email address has the correct syntax --- good for login forms or other uses related to identifying users.
  • Gives friendly error messages when validation fails (appropriate to show to end users).
  • (optionally) Checks deliverability: Does the domain name resolve? And you can override the default DNS resolver.
  • Supports internationalized domain names and (optionally) internationalized local parts, but blocks unsafe characters.
  • Normalizes email addresses (super important for internationalized addresses! see below).

The library is NOT for validation of the To: line in an email message (e.g. My Name <>), which flanker is more appropriate for. And this library does NOT permit obsolete forms of email addresses, so if you need strict validation against the email specs exactly, use pyIsEmail.

This library is tested with Python 3.6+ but should work in earlier versions:

Build Status

View the CHANGELOG / Release Notes for the version history of changes in the library. Occasionally this README is ahead of the latest published package --- see the CHANGELOG for details.


This package is on PyPI, so:

pip install email-validator

pip3 also works.

Quick Start

If you're validating a user's email address before creating a user account in your application, you might do this:

from email_validator import validate_email, EmailNotValidError

email = "my+address@mydomain.tld"
is_new_account = True # False for login pages

  # Check that the email address is valid.
  validation = validate_email(email, check_deliverability=is_new_account)

  # Take the normalized form of the email address
  # for all logic beyond this point (especially
  # before going to a database query where equality
  # may not take into account Unicode normalization).  
  email =
except EmailNotValidError as e:
  # Email is not valid.
  # The exception message is human-readable.

This validates the address and gives you its normalized form. You should put the normalized form in your database and always normalize before checking if an address is in your database. When using this in a login form, set check_deliverability to False to avoid unnecessary DNS queries.



The module provides a function validate_email(email_address) which takes an email address (either a str or bytes, but only non-internationalized addresses are allowed when passing a bytes) and:

  • Raises a EmailNotValidError with a helpful, human-readable error message explaining why the email address is not valid, or
  • Returns an object with a normalized form of the email address (which you should use!) and other information about it.

When an email address is not valid, validate_email raises either an EmailSyntaxError if the form of the address is invalid or an EmailUndeliverableError if the domain name fails DNS checks. Both exception classes are subclasses of EmailNotValidError, which in turn is a subclass of ValueError.

But when an email address is valid, an object is returned containing a normalized form of the email address (which you should use!) and other information.

The validator doesn't permit obsoleted forms of email addresses that no one uses anymore even though they are still valid and deliverable, since they will probably give you grief if you're using email for login. (See later in the document about that.)

The validator checks that the domain name in the email address has a DNS MX record (except a NULL MX record) indicating that it can receive email and that it does not have a reject-all SPF record (v=spf1 -all) which would indicate that it cannot send email. There is nothing to be gained by trying to actually contact an SMTP server, so that's not done here. For privacy, security, and practicality reasons servers are good at not giving away whether an address is deliverable or not: email addresses that appear to accept mail at first can bounce mail after a delay, and bounced mail may indicate a temporary failure of a good email address (sometimes an intentional failure, like greylisting).


The validate_email function also accepts the following keyword arguments (defaults are as shown below):

allow_smtputf8=True: Set to False to prohibit internationalized addresses that would require the SMTPUTF8 extension. You can also set email_validator.ALLOW_SMTPUTF8 to False to turn it off for all calls by default.

check_deliverability=True: If true, DNS queries check that a non-null MX (or A/AAAA record as an MX fallback) is present for the domain-part of the email address and that a reject-all SPF record is not present. Set to False to skip these DNS checks. DNS is slow and sometimes unavailable, so consider whether these checks are useful for your use case. It is recommended to pass False when performing validation for login pages (but not account creation pages) since re-validation of the domain by querying DNS at every login is probably undesirable. You can also set email_validator.CHECK_DELIVERABILITY to False to turn this off for all calls by default.

allow_empty_local=False: Set to True to allow an empty local part (i.e., e.g. for validating Postfix aliases.

dns_resolver=None: Pass an instance of dns.resolver.Resolver to control the DNS resolver including setting a timeout and a cache. The caching_resolver function shown above is a helper function to construct a dns.resolver.Resolver with a LRUCache. Reuse the same resolver instance across calls to validate_email to make use of the cache.

test_environment=False: DNS-based deliverability checks are disabled and test and subdomain.test domain names are permitted (see below). You can also set email_validator.TEST_ENVIRONMENT to True to turn it on for all calls by default.

DNS timeout and cache

When validating many email addresses or to control the timeout (the default is 15 seconds), create a caching dns.resolver.Resolver to reuse in each call. The caching_resolver function returns one easily for you:

from email_validator import validate_email, caching_resolver

resolver = caching_resolver(timeout=10)

while True:
  email = validate_email(email, dns_resolver=resolver).email

Test addresses

This library rejects email addresess that use the Special Use Domain Names invalid, localhost, test, and some others by raising EmailSyntaxError. This is to protect your system from abuse: You probably don't want a user to be able to cause an email to be sent to localhost. However, in your non-production test environments you may want to use @test or @myname.test email addresses. There are three ways you can allow this:

  1. Add test_environment=True to the call to validate_email (see above).
  2. Set email_validator.TEST_ENVIRONMENT to True.
  3. Remove the special-use domain name that you want to use from email_validator.SPECIAL_USE_DOMAIN_NAMES:
import email_validator

It is tempting to use in tests. These domains are reserved to IANA for use in documentation so there is no risk of accidentally emailing someone at those domains. But beware that this library will reject these domain names if DNS-based deliverability checks are not disabled because these domains do not resolve to domains that accept email. In tests, consider using your own domain name or @test or @myname.test instead.

Internationalized email addresses

The email protocol SMTP and the domain name system DNS have historically only allowed English (ASCII) characters in email addresses and domain names, respectively. Each has adapted to internationalization in a separate way, creating two separate aspects to email address internationalization.

Internationalized domain names (IDN)

The first is internationalized domain names (RFC 5891), a.k.a IDNA 2008. The DNS system has not been updated with Unicode support. Instead, internationalized domain names are converted into a special IDNA ASCII "Punycode" form starting with xn--. When an email address has non-ASCII characters in its domain part, the domain part is replaced with its IDNA ASCII equivalent form in the process of mail transmission. Your mail submission library probably does this for you transparently. Note that most web browsers are currently in transition between IDNA 2003 (RFC 3490) and IDNA 2008 (RFC 5891) and compliance around the web is not very good in any case, so be aware that edge cases are handled differently by different applications and libraries. This library conforms to IDNA 2008 using the idna module by Kim Davies.

Internationalized local parts

The second sort of internationalization is internationalization in the local part of the address (before the @-sign). In non-internationalized email addresses, only English letters, numbers, and some punctuation (._!#$%&'^``*+-=~/?{|}) are allowed. In internationalized email address local parts, a wider range of Unicode characters are allowed.

A surprisingly large number of Unicode characters are not safe to display, especially when the email address is concatenated with other text, so this library tries to protect you by not permitting resvered, non-, private use, formatting (which can be used to alter the display order of characters), whitespace, and control characters, and combining characters as the first character (so that they cannot combine with something outside of the email address string). See and for relevant prior work. (Other than whitespace, these are checks that you should be applying to nearly all user inputs in a security-sensitive context.)

These character checks are performed after Unicode normalization (see below), so you are only fully protected if you replace all user-provided email addresses with the normalized email address string returned by this library. This does not guard against the well known problem that many Unicode characters look alike (or are identical), which can be used to fool humans reading displayed text.

Email addresses with these non-ASCII characters require that your mail submission library and the mail servers along the route to the destination, including your own outbound mail server, all support the SMTPUTF8 (RFC 6531) extension. Support for SMTPUTF8 varies. See the allow_smtputf8 parameter.

If you know ahead of time that SMTPUTF8 is not supported by your mail submission stack

By default all internationalized forms are accepted by the validator. But if you know ahead of time that SMTPUTF8 is not supported by your mail submission stack, then you must filter out addresses that require SMTPUTF8 using the allow_smtputf8=False keyword argument (see above). This will cause the validation function to raise a EmailSyntaxError if delivery would require SMTPUTF8. That's just in those cases where non-ASCII characters appear before the @-sign. If you do not set allow_smtputf8=False, you can also check the value of the smtputf8 field in the returned object.

If your mail submission library doesn't support Unicode at all --- even in the domain part of the address --- then immediately prior to mail submission you must replace the email address with its ASCII-ized form. This library gives you back the ASCII-ized form in the ascii_email field in the returned object, which you can get like this:

valid = validate_email(email, allow_smtputf8=False)
email = valid.ascii_email

The local part is left alone (if it has internationalized characters allow_smtputf8=False will force validation to fail) and the domain part is converted to IDNA ASCII. (You probably should not do this at account creation time so you don't change the user's login information without telling them.)

UCS-4 support required for Python 2.7

This library hopefully still works with Python 2.7. Note that when using Python 2.7, it is required that it was built with UCS-4 support (see here); otherwise emails with unicode characters outside of the BMP (Basic Multilingual Plane) will not validate correctly.


The use of Unicode in email addresses introduced a normalization problem. Different Unicode strings can look identical and have the same semantic meaning to the user. The email field returned on successful validation provides the correctly normalized form of the given email address:

valid = validate_email("")
email = valid.ascii_email
# prints:

Because an end-user might type their email address in different (but equivalent) un-normalized forms at different times, you ought to replace what they enter with the normalized form immediately prior to going into your database (during account creation), querying your database (during login), or sending outbound mail. Normalization may also change the length of an email address, and this may affect whether it is valid and acceptable by your SMTP provider.

The normalizations include lowercasing the domain part of the email address (domain names are case-insensitive), Unicode "NFC" normalization of the whole address (which turns characters plus combining characters into precomposed characters where possible, replacement of fullwidth and halfwidth characters in the domain part, possibly other UTS46 mappings on the domain part, and conversion from Punycode to Unicode characters.

(See RFC 6532 (internationalized email) section 3.1 and RFC 5895 (IDNA 2008) section 2.)


For the email address, the returned object is:


For the fictitious address example@ツ.life, which has an internationalized domain but ASCII local part, the returned object is:


Note that smtputf8 is False even though the domain part is internationalized because SMTPUTF8 is only needed if the local part of the address is internationalized (the domain part can be converted to IDNA ASCII Punycode). Also note that the email and domain fields provide a normalized form of the email address and domain name (casefolding and Unicode normalization as required by IDNA 2008).

Calling validate_email with the ASCII form of the above email address,, returns the exact same information (i.e., the email field always will contain Unicode characters, not Punycode).

For the fictitious address ツ, which has an internationalized local part, the returned object is:


Now smtputf8 is True and ascii_email is None because the local part of the address is internationalized. The local_part and email fields return the normalized form of the address: certain Unicode characters (such as angstrom and ohm) may be replaced by other equivalent code points (a-with-ring and omega).

Return value

When an email address passes validation, the fields in the returned object are:

Field Value
email The normalized form of the email address that you should put in your database. This merely combines the local_part and domain fields (see below).
ascii_email If set, an ASCII-only form of the email address by replacing the domain part with IDNA Punycode. This field will be present when an ASCII-only form of the email address exists (including if the email address is already ASCII). If the local part of the email address contains internationalized characters, ascii_email will be None. If set, it merely combines ascii_local_part and ascii_domain.
local_part The local part of the given email address (before the @-sign) with Unicode NFC normalization applied.
ascii_local_part If set, the local part, which is composed of ASCII characters only.
domain The canonical internationalized Unicode form of the domain part of the email address. If the returned string contains non-ASCII characters, either the SMTPUTF8 feature of your mail relay will be required to transmit the message or else the email address's domain part must be converted to IDNA ASCII first: Use ascii_domain field instead.
ascii_domain The IDNA Punycode-encoded form of the domain part of the given email address, as it would be transmitted on the wire.
smtputf8 A boolean indicating that the SMTPUTF8 feature of your mail relay will be required to transmit messages to this address because the local part of the address has non-ASCII characters (the local part cannot be IDNA-encoded). If allow_smtputf8=False is passed as an argument, this flag will always be false because an exception is raised if it would have been true.
mx A list of (priority, domain) tuples of MX records specified in the DNS for the domain (see RFC 5321 section 5). May be None if the deliverability check could not be completed because of a temporary issue like a timeout.
mx_fallback_type None if an MX record is found. If no MX records are actually specified in DNS and instead are inferred, through an obsolete mechanism, from A or AAAA records, the value is the type of DNS record used instead (A or AAAA). May be None if the deliverability check could not be completed because of a temporary issue like a timeout.
spf Any SPF record found while checking deliverability.


By design, this validator does not pass all email addresses that strictly conform to the standards. Many email address forms are obsolete or likely to cause trouble:

  • The validator assumes the email address is intended to be usable on the public Internet. The domain part of the email address must be a resolvable domain name (without NULL MX or SPF -all DNS records) if deliverability checks are turned on. Most Special Use Domain Names and their subdomains and domain names without a . are rejected as a syntax error (except see the test_environment parameter above).
  • Obsolete email syntaxes are rejected: The "quoted string" form of the local part of the email address (RFC 5321 4.1.2) is not permitted. Quoted forms allow multiple @-signs, space characters, and other troublesome conditions. The unsual (comment) syntax is also rejected. The "literal" form for the domain part of an email address (an IP address in brackets) is rejected. Other obsolete and deprecated syntaxes are rejected. No one uses these forms anymore.


Tests can be run using

pip install -r test_requirements.txt 
make test

For Project Maintainers

The package is distributed as a universal wheel and as a source package.

To release:

git tag v1.0.XXX # replace with version in setup.cfg
git push --tags

Notes: The wheel is specified as universal in the file setup.cfg by the universal = 1 key in the [bdist_wheel] section.

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