How to validate an email address using a regular expression? [Answered]

In this post, I’ll share the top best answers to validate email address using regex.

Validate email address using regex- Answer #1:

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 Fortunately, RFC 822 was superseded twice and the current specification for email addresses is RFC 5322.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 a diagram of finite state machine for above regexp which is more clear than regexp itself 

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]’?

Validate email address using regex- Answer #2:

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*)

How to validate email address using regex- Answer #3:

It all depends on how accurate you want to be. For my purposes, where I’m just trying to keep out things like bob @ aol.com (spaces in emails) or steve (no domain at all) or [email protected] (no period before .com), I use

/^\[email protected]\S+\.\S+$/

Sure, it will match things that aren’t valid email addresses, but it’s a matter of getting common simple errors.

There is any number of changes that can be made to that regex (and some are in the comments for this answer), but it’s simple, and easy to understand, and is a fine first attempt.

Validate email address using regex- Answer #4:

Quick answer

Use the following regex for input validation:

([-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+(\.[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+)*|"([]!#-[^-~ \t]|(\\[\t -~]))+")@[0-9A-Za-z]([0-9A-Za-z-]{0,61}[0-9A-Za-z])?(\.[0-9A-Za-z]([0-9A-Za-z-]{0,61}[0-9A-Za-z])?)+

Addresses matched by this regex:

  • have a local part (i.e. the part before the @-sign) that is strictly compliant with RFC 5321/5322,
  • have a domain part (i.e. the part after the @-sign) that is a host name with at least two labels, each of which is at most 63 characters long.

The second constraint is a restriction on RFC 5321/5322.

Elaborate answer

Using a regular expression that recognizes email addresses could be useful in various situations: for example to scan for email addresses in a document, to validate user input, or as an integrity constraint on a data repository.

It should however be noted that if you want to find out if the address actually refers to an existing mailbox, there’s no substitute for sending a message to the address. If you only want to check if an address is grammatically correct then you could use a regular expression, but note that ""@[] is a grammatically correct email address that certainly doesn’t refer to an existing mailbox.

The syntax of email addresses has been defined in various RFCs, most notably RFC 822 and RFC 5322. RFC 822 should be seen as the “original” standard and RFC 5322 as the latest standard. The syntax defined in RFC 822 is the most lenient and subsequent standards have restricted the syntax further and further, where newer systems or services should recognize obsolete syntax, but never produce it.

In this answer I’ll take “email address” to mean addr-spec as defined in the RFCs (i.e. [email protected], but not "John Doe"<[email protected]>, nor some-group:[email protected],[email protected];).

There’s one problem with translating the RFC syntaxes into regexes: the syntaxes are not regular! This is because they allow for optional comments in email addresses that can be infinitely nested, while infinite nesting can’t be described by a regular expression. To scan for or validate addresses containing comments you need a parser or more powerful expressions. (Note that languages like Perl have constructs to describe context free grammars in a regex-like way.) In this answer I’ll disregard comments and only consider proper regular expressions.

The RFCs define syntaxes for email messages, not for email addresses as such. Addresses may appear in various header fields and this is where they are primarily defined. When they appear in header fields addresses may contain (between lexical tokens) whitespace, comments and even linebreaks. Semantically this has no significance however. By removing this whitespace, etc. from an address you get a semantically equivalent canonical representation. Thus, the canonical representation of first. last (comment) @ [3.5.7.9] is [email protected][3.5.7.9].

Different syntaxes should be used for different purposes. If you want to scan for email addresses in a (possibly very old) document it may be a good idea to use the syntax as defined in RFC 822. On the other hand, if you want to validate user input you may want to use the syntax as defined in RFC 5322, probably only accepting canonical representations. You should decide which syntax applies to your specific case.

I use POSIX “extended” regular expressions in this answer, assuming an ASCII compatible character set.

RFC 822

I arrived at the following regular expression. I invite everyone to try and break it. If you find any false positives or false negatives, please post them in a comment and I’ll try to fix the expression as soon as possible.

([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|"(\n|(\\\r)*([^"\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]))*(\\\r)*")(\.([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|"(\n|(\\\r)*([^"\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]))*(\\\r)*"))*@([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|\[(\n|(\\\r)*([^][\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]))*(\\\r)*])(\.([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|\[(\n|(\\\r)*([^][\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]))*(\\\r)*]))*

I believe it’s fully compliant with RFC 822 including the errata. It only recognizes email addresses in their canonical form. For a regex that recognizes (folding) whitespace see the derivation below.

The derivation shows how I arrived at the expression. I list all the relevant grammar rules from the RFC exactly as they appear, followed by the corresponding regex. Where an erratum has been published I give a separate expression for the corrected grammar rule (marked “erratum”) and use the updated version as a subexpression in subsequent regular expressions.

As stated in paragraph 3.1.4. of RFC 822 optional linear white space may be inserted between lexical tokens. Where applicable I’ve expanded the expressions to accommodate this rule and marked the result with “opt-lwsp”.

CHAR        =  <any ASCII character>
            =~ .

CTL         =  <any ASCII control character and DEL>
            =~ [\x00-\x1F\x7F]

CR          =  <ASCII CR, carriage return>
            =~ \r

LF          =  <ASCII LF, linefeed>
            =~ \n

SPACE       =  <ASCII SP, space>
            =~  

HTAB        =  <ASCII HT, horizontal-tab>
            =~ \t

<">         =  <ASCII quote mark>
            =~ "

CRLF        =  CR LF
            =~ \r\n

LWSP-char   =  SPACE / HTAB
            =~ [ \t]

linear-white-space =  1*([CRLF] LWSP-char)
                   =~ ((\r\n)?[ \t])+

specials    =  "(" / ")" / "<" / ">" / "@" /  "," / ";" / ":" / "\" / <"> /  "." / "[" / "]"
            =~ [][()<>@,;:\\".]

quoted-pair =  "\" CHAR
            =~ \\.

qtext       =  <any CHAR excepting <">, "\" & CR, and including linear-white-space>
            =~ [^"\\\r]|((\r\n)?[ \t])+

dtext       =  <any CHAR excluding "[", "]", "\" & CR, & including linear-white-space>
            =~ [^][\\\r]|((\r\n)?[ \t])+

quoted-string  =  <"> *(qtext|quoted-pair) <">
               =~ "([^"\\\r]|((\r\n)?[ \t])|\\.)*"
(erratum)      =~ "(\n|(\\\r)*([^"\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]|(\r\n)?[ \t]))*(\\\r)*"

domain-literal =  "[" *(dtext|quoted-pair) "]"
               =~ \[([^][\\\r]|((\r\n)?[ \t])|\\.)*]
(erratum)      =~ \[(\n|(\\\r)*([^][\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]|(\r\n)?[ \t]))*(\\\r)*]

atom        =  1*<any CHAR except specials, SPACE and CTLs>
            =~ [^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+

word        =  atom / quoted-string
            =~ [^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|"(\n|(\\\r)*([^"\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]|(\r\n)?[ \t]))*(\\\r)*"

domain-ref  =  atom

sub-domain  =  domain-ref / domain-literal
            =~ [^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|\[(\n|(\\\r)*([^][\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]|(\r\n)?[ \t]))*(\\\r)*]

local-part  =  word *("." word)
            =~ ([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|"(\n|(\\\r)*([^"\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]|(\r\n)?[ \t]))*(\\\r)*")(\.([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|"(\n|(\\\r)*([^"\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]|(\r\n)?[ \t]))*(\\\r)*"))*
(opt-lwsp)  =~ ([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|"(\n|(\\\r)*([^"\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]|(\r\n)?[ \t]))*(\\\r)*")(((\r\n)?[ \t])*\.((\r\n)?[ \t])*([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|"(\n|(\\\r)*([^"\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]|(\r\n)?[ \t]))*(\\\r)*"))*

domain      =  sub-domain *("." sub-domain)
            =~ ([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|\[(\n|(\\\r)*([^][\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]|(\r\n)?[ \t]))*(\\\r)*])(\.([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|\[(\n|(\\\r)*([^][\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]|(\r\n)?[ \t]))*(\\\r)*]))*
(opt-lwsp)  =~ ([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|\[(\n|(\\\r)*([^][\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]|(\r\n)?[ \t]))*(\\\r)*])(((\r\n)?[ \t])*\.((\r\n)?[ \t])*([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|\[(\n|(\\\r)*([^][\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]|(\r\n)?[ \t]))*(\\\r)*]))*

addr-spec   =  local-part "@" domain
            =~ ([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|"(\n|(\\\r)*([^"\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]|(\r\n)?[ \t]))*(\\\r)*")(\.([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|"(\n|(\\\r)*([^"\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]|(\r\n)?[ \t]))*(\\\r)*"))*@([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|\[(\n|(\\\r)*([^][\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]|(\r\n)?[ \t]))*(\\\r)*])(\.([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|\[(\n|(\\\r)*([^][\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]|(\r\n)?[ \t]))*(\\\r)*]))*
(opt-lwsp)  =~ ([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|"(\n|(\\\r)*([^"\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]|(\r\n)?[ \t]))*(\\\r)*")((\r\n)?[ \t])*(\.((\r\n)?[ \t])*([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|"(\n|(\\\r)*([^"\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]|(\r\n)?[ \t]))*(\\\r)*")((\r\n)?[ \t])*)*@((\r\n)?[ \t])*([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|\[(\n|(\\\r)*([^][\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]|(\r\n)?[ \t]))*(\\\r)*])(((\r\n)?[ \t])*\.((\r\n)?[ \t])*([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|\[(\n|(\\\r)*([^][\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]|(\r\n)?[ \t]))*(\\\r)*]))*
(canonical) =~ ([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|"(\n|(\\\r)*([^"\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]))*(\\\r)*")(\.([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|"(\n|(\\\r)*([^"\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]))*(\\\r)*"))*@([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|\[(\n|(\\\r)*([^][\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]))*(\\\r)*])(\.([^][()<>@,;:\\". \x00-\x1F\x7F]+|\[(\n|(\\\r)*([^][\\\r\n]|\\[^\r]))*(\\\r)*]))*

RFC 5322

I arrived at the following regular expression. I invite everyone to try and break it. If you find any false positives or false negatives, please post them in a comment and I’ll try to fix the expression as soon as possible.

([-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+(\.[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+)*|"([]!#-[^-~ \t]|(\\[\t -~]))+")@([-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+(\.[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+)*|\[[\t -Z^-~]*])

I believe it’s fully compliant with RFC 5322 including the errata. It only recognizes email addresses in their canonical form. For a regex that recognizes (folding) whitespace see the derivation below.

The derivation shows how I arrived at the expression. I list all the relevant grammar rules from the RFC exactly as they appear, followed by the corresponding regex. For rules that include semantically irrelevant (folding) whitespace, I give a separate regex marked “(normalized)” that doesn’t accept this whitespace.

I ignored all the “obs-” rules from the RFC. This means that the regexes only match email addresses that are strictly RFC 5322 compliant. If you have to match “old” addresses (as the looser grammar including the “obs-” rules does), you can use one of the RFC 822 regexes from the previous paragraph.

VCHAR           =   %x21-7E
                =~  [!-~]

ALPHA           =   %x41-5A / %x61-7A
                =~  [A-Za-z]

DIGIT           =   %x30-39
                =~  [0-9]

HTAB            =   %x09
                =~  \t

CR              =   %x0D
                =~  \r

LF              =   %x0A
                =~  \n

SP              =   %x20
                =~  

DQUOTE          =   %x22
                =~  "

CRLF            =   CR LF
                =~  \r\n

WSP             =   SP / HTAB
                =~  [\t ]

quoted-pair     =   "\" (VCHAR / WSP)
                =~  \\[\t -~]

FWS             =   ([*WSP CRLF] 1*WSP)
                =~  ([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+

ctext           =   %d33-39 / %d42-91 / %d93-126
                =~  []!-'*-[^-~]

("comment" is left out in the regex)
ccontent        =   ctext / quoted-pair / comment
                =~  []!-'*-[^-~]|(\\[\t -~])

(not regular)
comment         =   "(" *([FWS] ccontent) [FWS] ")"

(is equivalent to FWS when leaving out comments)
CFWS            =   (1*([FWS] comment) [FWS]) / FWS
                =~  ([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+

atext           =   ALPHA / DIGIT / "!" / "#" / "$" / "%" / "&" / "'" / "*" / "+" / "-" / "/" / "=" / "?" / "^" / "_" / "`" / "{" / "|" / "}" / "~"
                =~  [-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]

dot-atom-text   =   1*atext *("." 1*atext)
                =~  [-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+(\.[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+)*

dot-atom        =   [CFWS] dot-atom-text [CFWS]
                =~  (([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+(\.[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+)*(([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?
(normalized)    =~  [-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+(\.[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+)*

qtext           =   %d33 / %d35-91 / %d93-126
                =~  []!#-[^-~]

qcontent        =   qtext / quoted-pair
                =~  []!#-[^-~]|(\\[\t -~])

(erratum)
quoted-string   =   [CFWS] DQUOTE ((1*([FWS] qcontent) [FWS]) / FWS) DQUOTE [CFWS]
                =~  (([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?"(((([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?([]!#-[^-~]|(\\[\t -~])))+(([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?|(([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?)"(([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?
(normalized)    =~  "([]!#-[^-~ \t]|(\\[\t -~]))+"

dtext           =   %d33-90 / %d94-126
                =~  [!-Z^-~]

domain-literal  =   [CFWS] "[" *([FWS] dtext) [FWS] "]" [CFWS]
                =~  (([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?\[((([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?[!-Z^-~])*(([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?](([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?
(normalized)    =~  \[[\t -Z^-~]*]

local-part      =   dot-atom / quoted-string
                =~  (([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+(\.[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+)*(([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?|(([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?"(((([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?([]!#-[^-~]|(\\[\t -~])))+(([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?|(([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?)"(([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?
(normalized)    =~  [-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+(\.[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+)*|"([]!#-[^-~ \t]|(\\[\t -~]))+"

domain          =   dot-atom / domain-literal
                =~  (([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+(\.[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+)*(([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?|(([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?\[((([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?[!-Z^-~])*(([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?](([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?
(normalized)    =~  [-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+(\.[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+)*|\[[\t -Z^-~]*]

addr-spec       =   local-part "@" domain
                =~  ((([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+(\.[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+)*(([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?|(([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?"(((([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?([]!#-[^-~]|(\\[\t -~])))+(([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?|(([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?)"(([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?)@((([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+(\.[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+)*(([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?|(([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?\[((([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?[!-Z^-~])*(([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?](([\t ]*\r\n)?[\t ]+)?)
(normalized)    =~  ([-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+(\.[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+)*|"([]!#-[^-~ \t]|(\\[\t -~]))+")@([-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+(\.[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+)*|\[[\t -Z^-~]*])

Note that some sources (notably W3C) claim that RFC 5322 is too strict on the local part (i.e. the part before the @-sign). This is because “..”, “a..b” and “a.” are not valid dot-atoms, while they may be used as mailbox names. The RFC, however, does allow for local parts like these, except that they have to be quoted. So instead of [email protected] you should write "a..b"@example.net, which is semantically equivalent.

Further restrictions

SMTP (as defined in RFC 5321) further restricts the set of valid email addresses (or actually: mailbox names). It seems reasonable to impose this stricter grammar, so that the matched email address can actually be used to send an email.

RFC 5321 basically leaves alone the “local” part (i.e. the part before the @-sign), but is stricter on the domain part (i.e. the part after the @-sign). It allows only host names in place of dot-atoms and address literals in place of domain literals.

The grammar presented in RFC 5321 is too lenient when it comes to both host names and IP addresses. I took the liberty of “correcting” the rules in question, using this draft and RFC 1034 as guidelines. Here’s the resulting regex.

([-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+(\.[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+)*|"([]!#-[^-~ \t]|(\\[\t -~]))+")@([0-9A-Za-z]([0-9A-Za-z-]{0,61}[0-9A-Za-z])?(\.[0-9A-Za-z]([0-9A-Za-z-]{0,61}[0-9A-Za-z])?)*|\[((25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|1[0-9]{2}|[1-9]?[0-9])(\.(25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|1[0-9]{2}|[1-9]?[0-9])){3}|IPv6:((((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){6}|::((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){5}|[0-9A-Fa-f]{0,4}::((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){4}|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):)?(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){3}|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,2}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){2}|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,3}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,4}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::)((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3})|(25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|1[0-9]{2}|[1-9]?[0-9])(\.(25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|1[0-9]{2}|[1-9]?[0-9])){3})|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,5}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3})|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,6}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::)|(?!IPv6:)[0-9A-Za-z-]*[0-9A-Za-z]:[!-Z^-~]+)])

Note that depending on the use case you may not want to allow for a “General-address-literal” in your regex. Also note that I used a negative lookahead (?!IPv6:) in the final regex to prevent the “General-address-literal” part to match malformed IPv6 addresses. Some regex processors don’t support negative lookahead. Remove the substring |(?!IPv6:)[0-9A-Za-z-]*[0-9A-Za-z]:[!-Z^-~]+ from the regex if you want to take the whole “General-address-literal” part out.

Here’s the derivation:

Let-dig         =   ALPHA / DIGIT
                =~  [0-9A-Za-z]

Ldh-str         =   *( ALPHA / DIGIT / "-" ) Let-dig
                =~  [0-9A-Za-z-]*[0-9A-Za-z]

(regex is updated to make sure sub-domains are max. 63 charactes long - RFC 1034 section 3.5)
sub-domain      =   Let-dig [Ldh-str]
                =~  [0-9A-Za-z]([0-9A-Za-z-]{0,61}[0-9A-Za-z])?

Domain          =   sub-domain *("." sub-domain)
                =~  [0-9A-Za-z]([0-9A-Za-z-]{0,61}[0-9A-Za-z])?(\.[0-9A-Za-z]([0-9A-Za-z-]{0,61}[0-9A-Za-z])?)*

Snum            =   1*3DIGIT
                =~  [0-9]{1,3}

(suggested replacement for "Snum")
ip4-octet       =   DIGIT / %x31-39 DIGIT / "1" 2DIGIT / "2" %x30-34 DIGIT / "25" %x30-35
                =~  25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|1[0-9]{2}|[1-9]?[0-9]

IPv4-address-literal    =   Snum 3("."  Snum)
                        =~  [0-9]{1,3}(\.[0-9]{1,3}){3}

(suggested replacement for "IPv4-address-literal")
ip4-address     =   ip4-octet 3("." ip4-octet)
                =~  (25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|1[0-9]{2}|[1-9]?[0-9])(\.(25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|1[0-9]{2}|[1-9]?[0-9])){3}

(suggested replacement for "IPv6-hex")
ip6-h16         =   "0" / ( (%x49-57 / %x65-70 /%x97-102) 0*3(%x48-57 / %x65-70 /%x97-102) )
                =~  0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}

(not from RFC)
ls32            =   ip6-h16 ":" ip6-h16 / ip4-address
                =~  (0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3})|(25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|1[0-9]{2}|[1-9]?[0-9])(\.(25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|1[0-9]{2}|[1-9]?[0-9])){3}

(suggested replacement of "IPv6-addr")
ip6-address     =                                      6(ip6-h16 ":") ls32
                    /                             "::" 5(ip6-h16 ":") ls32
                    / [                 ip6-h16 ] "::" 4(ip6-h16 ":") ls32
                    / [ *1(ip6-h16 ":") ip6-h16 ] "::" 3(ip6-h16 ":") ls32
                    / [ *2(ip6-h16 ":") ip6-h16 ] "::" 2(ip6-h16 ":") ls32
                    / [ *3(ip6-h16 ":") ip6-h16 ] "::"   ip6-h16 ":"  ls32
                    / [ *4(ip6-h16 ":") ip6-h16 ] "::"                ls32
                    / [ *5(ip6-h16 ":") ip6-h16 ] "::"   ip6-h16
                    / [ *6(ip6-h16 ":") ip6-h16 ] "::"
                =~  (((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){6}|::((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){5}|[0-9A-Fa-f]{0,4}::((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){4}|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):)?(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){3}|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,2}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){2}|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,3}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,4}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::)((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3})|(25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|1[0-9]{2}|[1-9]?[0-9])(\.(25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|1[0-9]{2}|[1-9]?[0-9])){3})|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,5}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3})|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,6}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::

IPv6-address-literal    =   "IPv6:" ip6-address
                        =~  IPv6:((((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){6}|::((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){5}|[0-9A-Fa-f]{0,4}::((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){4}|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):)?(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){3}|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,2}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){2}|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,3}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,4}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::)((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3})|(25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|1[0-9]{2}|[1-9]?[0-9])(\.(25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|1[0-9]{2}|[1-9]?[0-9])){3})|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,5}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3})|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,6}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::)

Standardized-tag        =   Ldh-str
                        =~  [0-9A-Za-z-]*[0-9A-Za-z]

dcontent        =   %d33-90 / %d94-126
                =~  [!-Z^-~]

General-address-literal =   Standardized-tag ":" 1*dcontent
                        =~  [0-9A-Za-z-]*[0-9A-Za-z]:[!-Z^-~]+

address-literal =   "[" ( IPv4-address-literal / IPv6-address-literal / General-address-literal ) "]"
                =~  \[((25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|1[0-9]{2}|[1-9]?[0-9])(\.(25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|1[0-9]{2}|[1-9]?[0-9])){3}|IPv6:((((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){6}|::((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){5}|[0-9A-Fa-f]{0,4}::((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){4}|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):)?(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){3}|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,2}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){2}|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,3}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,4}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::)((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3})|(25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|1[0-9]{2}|[1-9]?[0-9])(\.(25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|1[0-9]{2}|[1-9]?[0-9])){3})|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,5}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3})|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,6}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::)|(?!IPv6:)[0-9A-Za-z-]*[0-9A-Za-z]:[!-Z^-~]+)]

Mailbox         =   Local-part "@" ( Domain / address-literal )
                =~  ([-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+(\.[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+)*|"([]!#-[^-~ \t]|(\\[\t -~]))+")@([0-9A-Za-z]([0-9A-Za-z-]{0,61}[0-9A-Za-z])?(\.[0-9A-Za-z]([0-9A-Za-z-]{0,61}[0-9A-Za-z])?)*|\[((25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|1[0-9]{2}|[1-9]?[0-9])(\.(25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|1[0-9]{2}|[1-9]?[0-9])){3}|IPv6:((((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){6}|::((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){5}|[0-9A-Fa-f]{0,4}::((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){4}|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):)?(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){3}|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,2}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){2}|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,3}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,4}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::)((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3})|(25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|1[0-9]{2}|[1-9]?[0-9])(\.(25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|1[0-9]{2}|[1-9]?[0-9])){3})|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,5}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3})|(((0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}):){0,6}(0|[1-9A-Fa-f][0-9A-Fa-f]{0,3}))?::)|(?!IPv6:)[0-9A-Za-z-]*[0-9A-Za-z]:[!-Z^-~]+)])

User input validation

A common use case is user input validation, for example on an html form. In that case it’s usually reasonable to preclude address-literals and to require at least two labels in the hostname. Taking the improved RFC 5321 regex from the previous section as a basis, the resulting expression would be:

([-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+(\.[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+)*|"([]!#-[^-~ \t]|(\\[\t -~]))+")@[0-9A-Za-z]([0-9A-Za-z-]{0,61}[0-9A-Za-z])?(\.[0-9A-Za-z]([0-9A-Za-z-]{0,61}[0-9A-Za-z])?)+

I do not recommend restricting the local part further, e.g. by precluding quoted strings, since we don’t know what kind of mailbox names some hosts allow (like "a..b"@example.net or even "a b"@example.net).

I also do not recommend explicitly validating against a list of literal top-level domains or even imposing length-constraints (remember how “.museum” invalidated [a-z]{2,4}), but if you must:

([-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+(\.[-!#-'*+/-9=?A-Z^-~]+)*|"([]!#-[^-~ \t]|(\\[\t -~]))+")@([0-9A-Za-z]([0-9A-Za-z-]{0,61}[0-9A-Za-z])?\.)*(net|org|com|info|etc...)

Make sure to keep your regex up-to-date if you decide to go down the path of explicit top-level domain validation.

Further considerations

When only accepting host names in the domain part (after the @-sign), the regexes above accept only labels with at most 63 characters, as they should. However, they don’t enforce the fact that the entire host name must be at most 253 characters long (including the dots). Although this constraint is strictly speaking still regular, it’s not feasible to make a regex that incorporates this rule.

Another consideration, especially when using the regexes for input validation, is feedback to the user. If a user enters an incorrect address, it would be nice to give a little more feedback than a simple “syntactically incorrect address”. With “vanilla” regexes this is not possible.

These two considerations could be addressed by parsing the address. The extra length constraint on host names could in some cases also be addressed by using an extra regex that checks it, and matching the address against both expressions.

None of the regexes in this answer are optimized for performance. If performance is an issue, you should see if (and how) the regex of your choice can be optimized.

I hope this post helped you in some way.

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About ᴾᴿᴼᵍʳᵃᵐᵐᵉʳ

Linux and Python enthusiast, in love with open source since 2014, Writer at programming-articles.com, India.

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