Custom user models

When django-registration was first developed, Django’s authentication system supported only its own built-in user model, django.contrib.auth.models.User. More recent versions of Django have introduced support for custom user models.

Older versions of django-registration did not generally support custom user models due to the additional complexity required; as of version 2.1, however, django-registration now can support custom user models. Depending on how significantly your custom user model differs from Django’s default, you may need to change only a few lines of code; custom user models significantly different from the default model may require more work to support.


The primary issue when using django-registration with a custom user model will be RegistrationForm. RegistrationForm is a subclass of Django’s built-in UserCreationForm, which in turn is a ModelForm with its model set to django.contrib.auth.models.User. The only changes made by django-registration are to apply the reserved name validator (registration.validators.ReservedNameValidator) and make the email field required (by default, Django’s user model makes this field optional; it is required in RegistrationForm because two of the three built-in workflows of django-registration require an email address in order to send account-activation instructions to the user). As a result, you will always be required to supply a custom form class when using django-registration with a custom user model.

In the case where your user model is compatible with the default behavior of django-registration, (see below) you will be able to simply subclass RegistrationForm, set it to use your custom user model as the model, and then configure the views in django-registration to use your form subclass. For example, you might do the following (in a module somewhere in your codebase – do not directly edit django-registration‘s code):

from registration.forms import RegistrationForm

from mycustomuserapp.models import MyCustomUser

class MyCustomUserForm(RegistrationForm):
    class Meta:
        model = MyCustomUser

And then in your URL configuration (example here uses the HMAC activation workflow):

from django.conf.urls import include, url

from registration.backends.hmac.views import RegistrationView

from mycustomuserapp.forms import MyCustomUserForm

urlpatterns = [
    # ... other URL patterns here
    url(r'^accounts/', include('registration.backends.hmac.urls')),

If your custom user model is not compatible with the built-in workflows of django-registration (see next section), you will probably need to subclass the provided views (either the base registration views, or the views of the workflow you want to use) and make the appropriate changes for your user model.

Determining compatibility of a custom user model

The built-in workflows and other code of django-registration do as much as is possible to ensure compatibility with custom user models; django.contrib.auth.models.User is never directly imported or referred to, and all code in django-registration instead uses settings.AUTH_USER_MODEL or django.contrib.auth.get_user_model() to refer to the user model, and USERNAME_FIELD when access to the username is required.

However, there are still some specific requirements you’ll want to be aware of.

The two-step activation workflows – both HMAC- and model-based – require that your user model have the following fields:

  • email – a CharField or EmailField holding the user’s email address. Note that this field is required by RegistrationForm, which is a difference from Django’s default UserCreationForm.
  • is_active – a BooleanField indicating whether the user’s account is active.

You also must specify the attribute USERNAME_FIELD on your user model to denote the field used as the username. Additionally, your user model must implement the email_user method for sending email to the user.

The model-based activation workflow requires one additional field:

  • date_joined – a DateField or DateTimeField indicating when the user’s account was registered.

The simple one-step workflow requires that your user model set USERNAME_FIELD, and requires that it define a field named password for storing the user’s password; the combination of USERNAME_FIELD and password must be sufficient to log a user in. Also note that RegistrationForm requires the email field, so either provide that field on your model or subclass RegistrationForm.

If your custom user model defines additional fields beyond the minimum requirements, you’ll either need to ensure that all of those fields are optional (i.e., can be NULL in your database, or provide a suitable default value defined in the model), or you’ll need to specify the full list of fields to display in the fields option of your RegistrationForm subclass.