What Is an Email Confirmation Code?

By Clare Edwards

When you register with some sites, such as social networking communities, auction sites or message boards, you may need to register using your email account. An email confirmation code is a small piece of alphanumeric data that some sites use to confirm your registration. You receive it through your email account and use it when you log on to the site for the first time.

Why Register?

For some sites, it is very important for every user to have a unique identity. Sites where you buy and sell things, such as eBay or Amazon, need to have your details on file to keep track of orders and payments. On social networking sites, you need to make sure that you're the only person who can use your identity. Sometimes registration is less vital but still useful; a user account system can let you save preferences and details rather than having to enter them every time you use a site. Tying user IDs to email addresses means that it's easy for you to retrieve your password and for sites to communicate with you.

Why Use Confirmation Codes?

A confirmation code establishes two important facts. First, that you haven't accidentally misspelled or mistyped your email address when registering, and second, that you want to sign up for a site -- you're not being registered there by someone else, perhaps as a prank. Using a code also helps ensure that you're a real person and not a spambot -- a program that signs up to sites in order to spread spam.

How are Confirmation Codes Generated?

Confirmation codes are usually generated by a function that's part of the code handling registrations. The program randomly generates a string of alphanumeric characters (numbers and letters) and then sends this to you in your confirmation email. Sometimes you'll be asked to enter the code by hand; alternatively, the code may be part of a hyperlink that you can click to confirm your account automatically.

Why Didn't I Get My Confirmation Code?

If a site tells you that you'll receive a confirmation code by email and the email doesn't arrive, it may simply be that there's a delay between you registering and the system sending your email. Most sites will tell you roughly how long you can expect to wait. Confirmation emails are sometimes mistaken for spam by overzealous email spam filters; check your spam folder to see if your email is there. If your email account has a space limit, your inbox may be full. Try deleting a few existing emails.