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:
- Teams must remain within 20 feet (6.1 meters) of one another, unless otherwise stated, such as Roadblocks. Teams must stay nearby their camera and sound crew at all times. Any transportation teams utilize during The Amazing Race, must accommodate their camera crew, unless otherwise stated.
- Teams are required to purchase only economy class airfare when they fly, and use the credit card provided by the show. The airline may upgrade the team(s) to business class, as long as there is not additional cost. Teams, however, can use the cash stipend they are given for first-class fares for other modes of transportation. Teams may be forbidden to fly on certain airlines, restricted to specific airlines, or restricted to another form of transit in certain countries.
- Teams are prohibited from contacting friends, family, and acquaintances during The Amazing Race without supervision. The Amazing Race may provide teams with an opportunity to contact them, but are prohibited from continuing until they're finished, as seen on Leg 10 of The Amazing Race 3. Teams may be allowed contact home in an emergency, as seen in "Chill Out, Freak", where James LoMenzo was contacted by his wife to inform him of a drastic change in his father's health.
- Unless otherwise stated, teams are allowed to use the help of locals for navigation and tasks. Teams are required to have any locals who appear on camera sign release forms that legally clear the footage for use.
- Teams are free to work together at any point, unless otherwise stated by the rules. Excluding the Yield and U-Turn, teams are prohibited from hindering other teams' performances, even if it was unintentional, such as taking extra clues, taking another team's assigned vehicle, altering equipment for other teams, or using more than one Yield or U-Turn, if teams are restricted to the number of times they can be used.
- In any tasks that provides teams with equipment, tools, animals, guides, or other props, teams cannot change these mid-task. Teams cannot interfere with such equipment for other teams. When driving a rental car, should it break down outside of the team's control, they will be given a replacement, but receive no time credit for time lost.
- Teams are not allowed to bring any of their own money or credit cards, possessing language books, guides, maps, GPS units, cellphones, cameras, or similar aides prior to the start of The Amazing Race. Teams may purchase aides using their stipend or borrow cellphones from locals during The Amazing Race. These may be provided by the show, but only for specific tasks.
- Teams are prohibited from bartering with their personal items for services during The Amazing Race. However, teams are not necessarily prohibited from selling personal items for cash. Teams can sell or barter with any items they've purchased during the race freely. Production may review the teams' bags during the Pit Stop for this purpose.
- As of at least The Amazing Race 17, if teams are instructed to walk or drive themselves to a destination, teams cannot hire a taxi to guide or take them through the route. This was confirmed in "I Want to Be in the Circus, That's Where I Belong", where Michael & Kevin were penalized for doing so.
- Prior to this, teams were allowed to do so, as long as they weren't expressly prohibited from doing so by their clue.
- Teams are expected to keep their fanny pack containing their cash, passports, clues, and other documents at all times. As shown in "Sean Penn Cambodia Here We Come", if a team checks in without their passport, they will be instructed to go back out on the racecourse to find it in order to check in. Teams may still check in after losing or abandoning non-mandatory items (such as clothing), but are made to continue without them.
- Teams must complete each challenge as specified by their clues given to them. Should a team fail to properly complete a challenge, violate the provision made in a clue or challenge description, or miss a clue altogether (unless specifically allowed to do so, such as winning the Fast Forward or using the Express Pass), teams may go back to the location of the challenge and complete it or incur a penalty at the Pit Stop.
- In order to check in, all members of the team must step on the mat.
- Confirmed by James Earl Corley and Michael Rado on Justin & Diana's Racers Recap show, if multiple teams are tied on the mat, the teams' placements are determined by their placements on the previous leg. It is currently unknown when this rule was implemented, but is likely sometime after The Amazing Race 4, since it is the last season to allow teams be tied at the mat.
- As seen in "You're a Champion, Prove It", where the last two teams' placements were determined by a photo finish, the team of the last racer to step on the mat are issued the lower placement.
- Teams are forbidden from touching other teams' belongings. Teams cannot remove belongings from another team's taxi, however the taxi driver can remove them, thus the team that takes the cab is not penalized. This is shown in "Choir Boy at Heart", where Jason & Amy's cab driver takes their bags out of the cab for initially Nicky & Kim to hire him, but was ultimately taken by Tim & Marie with no consequences to them.
- Teams are not allowed to beg where it is illegal. Only in the United States version, teams cannot beg in United States airports.
- Racers cannot smoke while on The Amazing Race.
- Teams must abide by all local laws of the country they're racing in.
- For The Amazing Race 1 and from The Amazing Race 25 onwards, teams can only book one travel itinerary for themselves. Teams cannot book another set of tickets if they discover another flight they would prefer after purchasing the first booking.
- If a team incurs multiple penalties, they are cumulative.
- All penalties are typically served at the Pit Stop at the end of the leg. However, if a team falls last on an elimination leg with a penalty, their penalty is not applied. If a team on a non-elimination leg only serves their penalty partially or check in last place with a penalty, they will serve the remainder of the penalty at the start of the next leg.
- 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, fail to complete a task, or have an outstanding debt (such as cab fare) cannot check in and the host will tell them to go back to fix the error before returning to the mat.
- The standard time penalties are as follows:
- For most minor rule infractions, teams will serve a 30-minute penalty. This penalty is usually applied for:
- Minor deviations of challenge provisions. For example, in The Amazing Race 22, where Chuck & Wynona did not use the sleds to move their cheese.
- Using unacceptable forms of transportation. Typically this type of infraction will add any time gained from the other teams to the standard 30 minutes. For example, in The Amazing Race 3 where Heather & Eve took a taxi to the Pit Stop when the clue explicitly said to walk, penalizing them with a 37 minute penalty, 30 minutes for taking a cab, plus an additional 7 minutes for the time they gained.
- Hindering other teams' performances unintentionally. For example, both Freddy & Kendra and Don & Mary Jean incur this penalty on the same leg in The Amazing Race 6 for taking an extra clue and taking another team's car, respectively.
- Hindering other teams' performances intentionally. For example, Mark & Michael were penalized in The Amazing Race 14 for hiding equipment at the 2 Miles Detour.
- Moving or touching another team's belonging without properly returning them. For example in The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business, Flight Time & Big Easy were retroactively penalized for taking Ron & Christina's fanny pack without returning it to them.
- Minor violations of various tasks have a 15-minute penalty. For example, in The Amazing Race 19, Laurence & Zac were given a 15 minute penalty for using too many buckets at the Grass Fed Detour
- A team that quits a Roadblock is assessed a 4-hour penalty. This penalty is typically applied in different ways:
- If circumstances force the penalized team to continue racing, it is served at the Pit Stop.
- If they are not forced to continue racing, and all teams have arrived a the Roadblock, the penalty begins the moment the team intends to quit.
- If they are not forced to continue racing, and at least one team has yet to arrive at the Roadblock, the penalty does not begin until the next team arrives.
- As of The Amazing Race 17, a team that quits a Detour without completing either task is assessed a 6-hour penalty.
- Prior to this, the penalty for skipping the Detour was 24 hours.
- As of The Amazing Race 29, a team is unable to complete either half of the Detour due to unavoidable circumstances, are assessed a 2-hour penalty.
- Prior to this, the penalty of being unable to complete the Detour was 4 hours.
- Failing to complete a Speed Bump incurs a 4-hour penalty.
- Completing a Fast Forward incorrectly incurs a 6-hour penalty.
- Flying outside of economy class incurs a 24-hour penalty.
- Bartering with personal belongings incurs a 2-hour penalty.
- As of at least The Amazing Race 29, a team that is caught speeding is told by security to pull over to serve at least a 10-minute penalty, while on the racecourse.
- For most minor rule infractions, teams will serve a 30-minute penalty. This penalty is usually applied for:
- 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.
- Teams may be given time credit if an event outside the team's control, such as a storm, delays them from competing in a task. For example, Tara & Joey and Vanck & Ashton on The Amazing Race 29 were given time credit for a storm occurring at the site of the first leg's Detour, bumping them up to 6th and 7th place respectively and pushing London & Logan down to 8th.
- ↑ http://www.tarflies.com/article.php?_f=detail&id=29#rules15
- ↑ http://www.tarflies.com/article.php?_f=detail&id=29#rules12
- ↑ http://www.tarflies.com/article.php?_f=detail&id=29#rules13
- ↑ https://youtu.be/5i1yCKOGUyg?t=51m25s
- ↑ http://www.realitytvworld.com/news/interview-the-amazing-race-azaria-and-hendekea-azene-dish-6237.php
- ↑ https://youtu.be/0GitMmCoN04?t=3m18s
- ↑ https://youtu.be/3vKnV1ksyds?t=8m40s
|The Amazing Race Format|
Challenges: Clues · Clue Box · Double Battle · Express Pass · Salvage Pass · Save