Verifying the recipient's email address is properly formatted


ServiceNow cannot send email if the email address is not properly formatted and valid. If a particular user or group does not receive an email notification, verify the user or group has a properly formatted and valid email address.

Email addresses generally follow this format:


The definition of a properly formatted email address is described in detail in section 3.4 of RFC 2822.  The format is surprisingly complicated in what it allows, with various exceptional cases, making a succinct description difficult.

Simply having a properly formatted address is not enough.  The receiving mail server must recognize the email account. If your email address is properly formatted, but perhaps incorrectly spelled, the receiving mail server will reject the email address as not valid because it cannot find the email account.

Improperly formatted email address examples:

  • john.smith  - The 'domain' part is technically optional according to specification, so this is properly formatted.  However ServiceNow email servers enforce email addresses with a full domain, in order to eliminate any ambiguity in recipient.
  • @example  - missing the local part
  • @ex amp le  - unacceptable spaces

Properly formatted email address examples:



Email Investigation

Check the error_string field of the email record as well as the Email Log related list.

  1. Open the email record you expected the recipient to receive
  2. Check the error_string field. If a server rejected an email address as invalid, the error may appear here.  The text is server-dependent.
  3. In Eureka and later information is logged that may indicate why a particular user was included or excluded in an email notification.  Check the logs for the reason a receipient was excluded. An improperly formatted address is one reason a recipient might be excluded.   View the 'Email Log' related list and look for the user in question.

Notification Investigation

The notification defines who receives an email in the "Who To Send" tab in the notificiation

  1. Login to the instance.
  2. Navigate to System Policy > Notifications.
  3. Select the notification you expected the recipient to receive. For example, the incident commented notification.
  4. Identify the users and groups who would normally receive the notification. For example, the incident commented notification notifies the incident caller.
  5. Determine which specific users or groups did not potentially trigger the notification. For example, determine the user who is the incident caller.
  6. Navigate to User Administration > Users.
  7. Select the user record for the intended recipient.
  8. Verify the address in the Email field is properly formatted.
  9. If you change the user record, click Update.


Additional Resources

Official RFC: section 3.4 of RFC 2822

Wikipedia article -


Article Information

Last Updated:2019-08-02 21:34:54