The model-based activation workflow

This workflow implements a two-step – registration, followed by activation – process for user signup.


Use of the model-based workflow is discouraged

The model-based activation workflow was originally the only workflow built in to django-registration, and later was the default one. However, it no longer represents the best practice for registration with modern versions of Django, and so it continues to be included only for backwards compatibility with existing installations of django-registration.

If you’re setting up a new installation and want a two-step process with activation, it’s recommended you use the HMAC activation workflow instead.

Also, note that this workflow was previously found in registration.backends.default, and imports from that location still function in django-registration 2.1 but now raise deprecation warnings. The correct location going forward is registration.backends.model_activation.

Default behavior and configuration

To make use of this workflow, simply add registration to your INSTALLED_APPS, run migrate to install its model, and include the URLconf registration.backends.model_activation.urls at whatever location you choose in your URL hierarchy. For example:

from django.conf.urls import include, url

urlpatterns = [
    # Other URL patterns ...
    url(r'^accounts/', include('registration.backends.model_activation.urls')),
    # More URL patterns ...

This workflow makes use of the following settings:

By default, this workflow uses registration.forms.RegistrationForm as its form class for user registration; this can be overridden by passing the keyword argument form_class to the registration view.

Two views are provided: registration.backends.model_activation.views.RegistrationView and registration.backends.model_activation.views.ActivationView. These views subclass django-registration‘s base RegistrationView and ActivationView, respectively, and implement the two-step registration/activation process.

Upon successful registration – not activation – the user will be redirected to the URL pattern named registration_complete.

Upon successful activation, the user will be redirected to the URL pattern named registration_activation_complete.

This workflow uses the same templates and contexts as the HMAC activation workflow, which is covered in the quick-start guide. Refer to the quick-start guide for documentation on those templates and their contexts.

How account data is stored for activation

During registration, a new instance of the user model (by default, Django’s django.contrib.auth.models.User – see the custom user documentation for notes on using a different model) is created to represent the new account, with the is_active field set to False. An email is then sent to the email address of the account, containing a link the user must click to activate the account; at that point the is_active field is set to True, and the user may log in normally.

Activation is handled by generating and storing an activation key in the database, using the following model:

class registration.models.RegistrationProfile

A simple representation of the information needed to activate a new user account. This is not a user profile; it simply provides a place to temporarily store the activation key and determine whether a given account has been activated.

Has the following fields:


A OneToOneField to the user model, representing the user account for which activation information is being stored.


A 40-character CharField, storing the activation key for the account. Initially, the activation key is the hex digest of a SHA1 hash; after activation, this is reset to ACTIVATED.

Additionally, one class attribute exists:


A constant string used as the value of activation_key for accounts which have been activated.

And the following methods:


Determines whether this account’s activation key has expired, and returns a boolean (True if expired, False otherwise). Uses the following algorithm:

  1. If activation_key is ACTIVATED, the account has already been activated and so the key is considered to have expired.
  2. Otherwise, the date of registration (obtained from the date_joined field of user) is compared to the current date; if the span between them is greater than the value of the setting ACCOUNT_ACTIVATION_DAYS, the key is considered to have expired.
Return type:bool

Sends an activation email to the address of the account.

The activation email will make use of two templates: registration/activation_email_subject.txt and registration/activation_email.txt, which are used for the subject of the email and the body of the email, respectively. Each will receive the following context:

The value of activation_key.
The number of days the user has to activate, taken from the setting ACCOUNT_ACTIVATION_DAYS.
The user registering for the new account.
An object representing the site on which the account was registered; depending on whether django.contrib.sites is installed, this may be an instance of either django.contrib.sites.models.Site (if the sites application is installed) or django.contrib.sites.models.RequestSite (if not). Consult the documentation for the Django sites framework for details regarding these objects’ interfaces.

Note that, to avoid header-injection vulnerabilities, the rendered output of registration/activation_email_subject.txt will be forcibly condensed to a single line.

Parameters:site (django.contrib.sites.models.Site or django.contrib.sites.models.RequestSite) – An object representing the site on which account was registered.
Return type:None

Additionally, RegistrationProfile has a custom manager (accessed as RegistrationProfile.objects):

class registration.models.RegistrationManager

This manager provides several convenience methods for creating and working with instances of RegistrationProfile:


Validates activation_key and, if valid, activates the associated account by setting its is_active field to True. To prevent re-activation of accounts, the activation_key of the RegistrationProfile for the account will be set to RegistrationProfile.ACTIVATED after successful activation.

Returns the user instance representing the account if activation is successful, False otherwise.

Parameters:activation_key (string, a 40-character SHA1 hexdigest) – The activation key to use for the activation.
Return type:user or bool

Removes expired instances of RegistrationProfile, and their associated user accounts, from the database. This is useful as a periodic maintenance task to clean out accounts which registered but never activated.

Accounts to be deleted are identified by searching for instances of RegistrationProfile with expired activation keys and with associated user accounts which are inactive (have their is_active field set to False). To disable a user account without having it deleted, simply delete its associated RegistrationProfile; any User which does not have an associated RegistrationProfile will not be deleted.

A custom management command is provided which will execute this method, suitable for use in cron jobs or other scheduled maintenance tasks: cleanupregistration.

Return type:None
create_inactive_user(form, site, send_email=True)

Creates a new, inactive user account and an associated instance of RegistrationProfile, sends the activation email and returns the new User object representing the account.

  • form – A bound instance of a subclass of RegistrationForm representing the (already-validated) data the user is trying to register with.
  • site – An object representing the site on which the account is being registered. :type site: django.contrib.sites.models.Site or django.contrib.sites.models.RequestSite :param send_email: If True, the activation email will be sent to the account (by calling RegistrationProfile.send_activation_email()). If False, no email will be sent (but the account will still be inactive). :type send_email: bool :rtype: user

Creates and returns a RegistrationProfile instance for the account represented by user.

The RegistrationProfile created by this method will have its activation_key set to a SHA1 hash generated from a combination of the account’s username and a random salt.

Parameters:user (User) – The user account; an instance of django.contrib.auth.models.User.
Return type:RegistrationProfile