All teams must abide by the rules set at the beginning of the race. Failure to do so can result in time penalties, which can negatively affect finishing position in that leg of the race. While the complete set of official rules has not been released to the public, certain rules have been revealed during the various editions of the race:
Penalties and time credits
- In later seasons, when a team has incurred a penalty, or is unable to check in at the present time, Phil (or any host from the foreign versions of The Amazing Race) will not say "You are team number N," but rather "You are the Nth team to arrive," before explaining what has happened. (This also occurs at Pit Stops where teams immediately continue racing, and for teams Marked for Elimination who do not finish first.)
- Earlier seasons had Phil almost invariably using the latter phrasing.
- The standard penalty for minor rule infractions is 30 minutes plus, in some cases, the time advantage gained (if any) by disobeying the rule. This penalty applies when teams make minor deviations from the rules (e.g., Season 22, where Chuck & Wynona did not use the sleds to move their cheese), or for using unacceptable forms of transportation (e.g., in Season 3, Heather & Eve received a 30-minute penalty, plus the time gained, for taking a taxi when the clue instructed them to go on foot). It has also been applied when teams inadvertently interfere with other teams (e.g., accidentally taking another team's assigned car), or interfere intentionally in minor ways (e.g., Mark & Michael in Season 14 received a 30-minute penalty for hiding equipment other teams needed to complete a task).
- If a team realizes they have violated the rules before checking in, they can go back to the point where the infraction occurred and rectify the situation. If they do so, and their error does not inconvenience other teams, no additional penalties will be assessed beyond the time lost in fixing the error.
- In general, teams that skip a Route Marker or fail to complete a task cannot check in; host Phil Keoghan will tell them to go back to the missed Route Marker or task before returning to the mat.
- A team that quits a Roadblock is assessed a 4-hour penalty; if other teams have not yet arrived, the penalty does not begin until the next team arrives at the Roadblock.
- A team that quits a Detour without completing either task originally received a 24-hour penalty; by Season 17, this penalty had been reduced to 6 hours. However, if a team is unable to complete either half of the Detour because of unavoidable circumstances such as hours of operation (as did Josh & Brent in Season 21, Leg 7), a 4-hour penalty is assessed; by season 29 the penalty was reduced down to 2 hours.
- Since the Express Pass was introduced in Season 17, a team that uses an Express Pass to skip a Fast Forward task will receive a 4-hour penalty. In some cases, taking this penalty may be advantageous compared to the time required to complete the leg normally.
- If a team's vehicle breaks down through no fault of their own or otherwise becomes inoperable, they may request a replacement vehicle without receiving a time penalty. However, no time credit is given for their wait.
- Starting in Season 10, teams that arrive last in non-elimination legs were assessed a 30-minute penalty upon completing the following leg unless they arrived first, in which case no penalty was applied. This was later changed to a special challenge called a Speed Bump that they had to complete at some point in the following leg.
- In the event a team is delayed by a production difficulty, such as needing to change the batteries on a camera, a time credit may be issued.
Usually, penalties are enforced against a team when the team arrives at the Pit Stop, regardless of where the penalty occurred during the leg; Phil (or any host of the foreign versions of the show such as Allan Wu) will ask the team to step off to the side and wait out their penalty while other teams may check-in before them. The only exception to this rule is the four-hour penalty that occurs by quitting a Roadblock; this penalty is applied immediately once the team declares their intention to quit. (Rob & Amber exploited this exception in Season 7 to stay in the race.) Time credits are applied after the production team evaluates the leg and finalizes start times for each team. Penalties may be assessed after a leg and applied to the start time for the next leg but otherwise do not affect placement of the teams and thus aren't shown, though they can usually be inferred. Only in the case where a penalty affects team placement will the post-assessment of a penalty be shown (such as with Heather and Eve in Season 3).
|The Amazing Race Format|
Challenges: Clues · Clue Box · Double Battle · Express Pass · Salvage Pass · Save