WelcomeHello and welcome to Around the World, a fan site for the TV show, The Amazing Race that is maintained by me, Joy. It was opened on December 9, 2010. Feel free to take a look around. I hope you enjoy your stay here.
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Newest Member(s): Rose Myst
Last Updated: February 15, 2023
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About the Race
The Amazing Race is a reality television game show in which teams of two people, who have some form of a preexisting personal relationship, race around the world in competition with other teams. Contestants strive to arrive first at "pit stops" at the end of each leg of the race to win prizes and to avoid coming in last, which carries the possibility of elimination or a significant disadvantage in the following leg (segment). Contestants travel to and within multiple countries in a variety of transportation modes, including planes, balloons, helicopters, trucks, bicycles, taxicabs, rental cars, trains, buses, boats, and by foot. The clues (cryptic hints) provided in each leg lead the teams to the next destination or direct them to perform a task, either together or by a single member. These challenges are related in some manner to the country wherein they are located or its culture. Teams are progressively eliminated until three are left; at that point, the team that arrives first in the final leg is awarded a grand prize.
Created by Elise Doganieri and Bertram van Munster, the original series has aired in the United States since 2001 and has earned eight Primetime Emmy Awards, including the first seven awards, from 2003 to 2009, for "Outstanding Reality-Competition Program" (Top Chef broke Race's streak in 2010). Emmy-award-winning New Zealand television personality, Phil Keoghan, has been the host of the show since its inception. The show has branched out to include a number of international versions following a similar format.
At the beginning of each leg of the race, each team receives an allowance with their first clue. During each leg of the Race, all expenses (food, transportation, lodging, attraction admission, and supplies) must be purchased from this allowance. Selected tasks have also required the teams to use their money to complete the task. However, teams are given a credit card which they can use to purchase airline tickets (and in the case of the "Family Edition", the purchase of gasoline). While early seasons of the US version of the show allowed for teams to use the credit card to reserve flights outside of an airport or travel agency, recent seasons have prohibited this use.
Allowance money is usually given in the same currency as the show's nation regardless of location; US versions of the Race will provide racers with U.S. dollars. In one exception, teams were given money in the currency of Vietnam at the start of that leg. The amount of money varies from leg to leg, and has ranged from hundreds of dollars to nothing. Teams are allowed to keep any unused money for future race legs, barring certain penalties for finishing last.
If team members spend all of their money or has it taken away in a non-elimination leg, they may try to get more money in any way that does not violate the local laws. This includes borrowing money from other teams, begging from locals or selling their possessions. Since Season 7, teams have been prevented from begging at United States airports. Additionally, teams may not use their personal possessions to barter payment for services.
Teams have reported on the existence of an emergency fund of approximately US$200 that is carried by their crew and can only be used in extreme circumstances, but generally not as a means to pay for any activity related to the race. However, the exact amount is not known, nor are the exact circumstances when it can be used.
Route Markers are uniquely-colored flags that mark the places where teams must go. Most Route Markers are attached to the boxes that contain clue envelopes, but some may mark the place where the teams must go in order to complete tasks, or may be used to line a course that the teams must follow.
The original Route Markers used in Season 1 were colored yellow and white. They were changed to yellow and red in The Amazing Race 2, which has remained the standard Route Markers color scheme thereafter. Occasionally, different color schemes are adopted for certain legs, seasons, or versions of the race.
When teams start a leg, arrive at Route Markers, or complete certain tasks, they normally receive a letter-sized tear-away envelope that contains their next clue inside a vertical-fold folder. The clues themselves are typically printed on a vertical strip of paper, although additional information is often provided inside the clue folder. After retrieving the clue, teams open the envelope and read aloud the instructions given on the clue sheet and then follow those instructions. Teams are generally required to collect each clue during each leg and keep that information with them until they reach the next Pit Stop, surrendering them once they have checked in.
At Route Markers, clue envelopes are placed inside a box mounted to the Marker. In early seasons, the box contained exactly the number of clues for teams on that leg, allowing teams to indirectly determine their current placement in the leg by counting envelopes. In more recent seasons, extra envelopes are left in clue boxes to prevent this from occurring.
In some cases, clues - most often Route Markers - have been provided by more unorthodox means, such as in an advertisement in a local newspaper or on some item related to the task just performed. A common unorthodox means in the US version is to place the clue at the bottom of the Roaming Gnome, the mascot of Travelocity, the sponsor of the US version.
Route Information clues instruct the teams where to go next. Such a clue usually provides only the name of the team's next destination; it is up to the teams to figure out how to get there. An exception occurs during the first leg of most seasons, wherein teams receive flight suggestions, together with the associated airline tickets. It is solely up to the team whether to take the suggested flight or another flight. Route Information clues may specify how the teams have to travel (such as by foot, by train, or by air), and instruct teams what type of location to travel to (such as a specific location in another city or country, another location within the team's present city, the Pit Stop of the leg, or the Finish Line of the race). Route Information clues have also provided cryptic clues about the next location, leaving teams to figure out where they must go. For example, teams have been given a small country flag and told to fly to that country, or have been told to travel to the "westernmost point in mainland Europe". In some cases, Route Information clues will require all teams to complete a non-Detour, non-Roadblock task before getting the clue to their next destination, such as taking part in a ceremonial observation.
A Detour presents the team with a decision between two tasks, each with its own pros and cons. The two tasks are named, often based on rhymes or puns, such as "Plow" / "Fowl" to differentiate between a task involving plowing against a task involving corralling ducks. Teams are given several details about both tasks, but may need to travel a short distance by foot or car to the different task locations. Typically, one task is less physically demanding than the other but is tedious or requires some amount of time or thinking to complete, while the other is usually a more physically demanding or frightening option that, depending on the team's ability, may take less time to complete. The decision about which task to attempt lies solely with the team. A team may choose to switch tasks as many times as they wish with no penalty other than the time lost in attempting the tasks and traveling between task locations. Unless otherwise instructed, teams can work together to finish a Detour option. Once a team has completed one of the tasks, they are given the clue to their next location.
A Roadblock is a task that only one team member may perform. A Roadblock clue is given as a cryptic question, such as "Who's really hungry?" or "Who wants to get down and dirty?" Based on this information and observation of any other racers at the task, the team must decide which member will complete the task before reading the rest of the task description. Once a team member has been selected, s/he cannot switch. The Roadblock task is performed only by the selected racer while their partner waits in a designated area, although the partner is able to supply words of encouragement. Some Roadblocks may involve the non-selected racer, such as leading a camel his or her partner rides, or helping his or her partner solve a puzzle. Normally, once the racer completes the Roadblock, the team receives their clue to the next Route Marker.
Early seasons allowed teams to distribute the Roadblocks between the team members as they desired, which allowed one team member to do nearly all the Roadblocks. This was changed in Season 6, which limited a single teammate to a maximum number of Roadblocks s/he could complete, thus forcing his or her partner to perform roughly half of the Roadblocks, as well. Subsequent seasons have not explicitly stated this rule but teams have maintained an even distribution of Roadblocks throughout the Race. Racers can be heard saying they've done "all my Roadblocks" or "saving the last one". In Season 16, the Roadblock limit was increased to a maximum of seven which can lead to a 6-6 or 5-7 distribution. The six Roadblock limit was reinstated for season 17. The only time the limit was not enforced was during the "Family Edition", wherein some Roadblocks required two people from each 4-person team to participate.
Season 16 featured some twists to the Roadblock concept. Leg 4 featured an Intersection, wherein one person from each of the Intersected teams had to work together to complete the Roadblock, while Leg 10 featured two Roadblocks in the same single-length leg. One team member had to complete one, while the other had to complete the second Roadblock.
A Fast Forward is a task that, once completed, allows the team that completes it to bypass all remaining tasks in the leg and proceed directly to the Pit Stop. The Fast Forward clue is given with another task clue (usually a Roadblock or Detour) and is a separate task from the others. Only one team may complete a Fast Forward in any given leg, and a team may only complete one Fast Forward in the entire Race. The exception to this rule is in seasons wherein the Fast Forward is offered in conjunction with the Intersection, in which case a team may win the Fast Forward both as an individual team and as a team working with another as part of the Intersection instructions. Teams that win the Fast Forward are not guaranteed a first-place finish for that leg and still face elimination if they arrive at the Pit Stop last.
Multiple teams may undertake Fast Forward tasks, but only the first team to complete the task gets credit.
Fast Forwards were initially offered on every leg of the Race, including some that were not shown if no one took the task or if all remaining teams had won their Fast Forward. The number of Fast Forwards available has since been reduced to two on each Race since Season 5, and then down to one since Season 14, to reduce the costs of providing Fast Forward tasks that would not be taken. Season 14 was also the first and only season not to air the Fast Forward only because no one had opted to perform the Fast Forward in that race.
The Switchback, a twist which appeared in Season 15, is a task from a previous season that is revisited and that the teams must complete. For the Switchback, teams revisited the infamous Stockholm Roadblock from Season 6, except it was made more difficult by having to find one of just seven flags in 186 hay bales, where previously teams had to find one of 20 clues in 270 hay bales.
The Yield, introduced in Season 5, allows any one team to force another team to stop racing for a predetermined amount of time. The Yield Marker is placed near a Route Marker, and teams are forced to stop at it to state their intentions to employ the Yield. The clue would say "Caution: Yield ahead!" If a team Yielded another team, they would place a photo of the Yielded team, along with a "Courtesy Of" photo of themselves, on the stand. When the Yielded team arrived at the Yield, they would then turn over an hourglass and wait for the sand to drain before they could continue to the Route Marker. A team may only use their Yield power once on the race, and only one team may be Yielded when the Yield is available, although the same team can be Yielded multiple times during the same Race. If a team loses their "Courtesy Of" photo, they lose their Yield power. If the team that is Yielded has already passed the Yield, the Yield is nullified.
During Season 5, teams were not aware of the upcoming Yield. In subsequent seasons, clues have alerted teams that a Yield would be present at the next Route Marker. Yields were present in every leg except the last of Season 5, while only three were present in Seasons 6 through 8, and two in Seasons 9 through 11. Yields have not been present in the US Race since Season 11 after a revised format of the clue, the U-Turn. Yields are still present within the foreign editions.
The U-Turn, introduced in Season 12 as a replacement of the Yield, is similar in format to the Yield; however, it is always placed immediately after a Detour. After completing their Detour option, a team may use their U-Turn ability to force another team to backtrack and complete the Detour option they did not previously complete. Like the Yield, the team placing the U-Turn places a photo of the team they are penalizing along with their own "Courtesy Of" photo on the U-Turn marker stand. Also, if a team has lost their "Courtesy Of" photo, they will be unable to use their U-Turn power for the remainder of the Race. It is possible for a team to U-Turn a team that has already passed the U-Turn (or skipped it by means of a Fast Forward), nullifying its effects, and usually the U-Turn will be unaired on television. A team can only use their U-Turn power once per Race. Teams are warned of an upcoming U-Turn on the Route Marker after the Detour clue. If there are both a U-Turn and a Fast Forward available in the same leg, teams will be made aware that a U-Turn will be available "at some point" during the leg when they leave the Pit Stop since the team taking the Fast Forward option will have skipped the Detour as well as the U-Turn marker. Season 15 was the first and currently the only season not to air a U-Turn, since this mechanism was introduced.
Starting in Season 14, teams were met with a new variation of the U-Turn called a "Blind U-Turn." If teams use a Blind U-Turn, they do not have to publicly reveal themselves as the perpetrators with their "Courtesy Of" photo. In Season 17, a "Double U-Turn" was introduced in which two teams can each choose a team to U-Turn. Teams are notified in the first clue of the Double U-Turn leg, that it will occur "at some point." A team can only U-Turn once, and a team cannot be U-Turned twice in the same leg.
The Intersection, used in Seasons 10, 11 and 16, requires each team to pair up with one other team and perform all tasks and make decisions together until further notice. Should there be no other teams present when a given team arrives at the Intersection Route Marker, they must wait there until another team arrives, although they do not have to partner with that team and can opt to wait for another team instead. Teams are free to choose their partner team if multiple teams are present. Teams are not warned when an Intersection is coming. Normal Route Markers have been included with the use of the Intersection. The Intersection appeared in the second season of the Latin American version with different rules. Instead of working together with other teams, the teams would compete against each other for higher placement.
The program featured a unique obstacle which has teams compete against each other in a specific task. The winning team is given the next clue, while the losing team must wait for the next team's arrival to start the task over. The team who lost the final Head-to-Head was given a 15-minute penalty before given the next clue. It was officially introduced in Season 30 during the leg's Pit Stop. Here the winning team checked-in at the Pit Stop. The team who lost the final Head-to-Head was eliminated from the race.
Each leg of The Amazing Race generally consists of teams leaving from the previous Pit Stop and traveling to a different location (often in a different country), where they perform two or more tasks, generally including one Detour and one Roadblock, before being given instructions to go to the next Pit Stop. It is each team's goal to complete each leg as quickly as possible, as the first team to check in at the Pit Stop will win a prize; the prizes have included all-expenses paid trips, new cars or other vehicles, money, entertainment provided during the Pit Stop, and recently advantages to be used during the race (see Express Pass, Salvage Pass, and Double Your Money). The last team to arrive at the Pit Stop will generally be eliminated from the competition, but occasionally the team is allowed to continue racing although they will be given a Race-imposed disadvantage in the next leg (see Non-elimination leg). When teams are otherwise not performing tasks or traveling during a leg, they are free to use their time as they see fit, although they will often resort to eating cheaply or sleeping outside a location to save their Race money.
Start line task
First introduced in season 15 (and not repeated until season 18 and being used in subsequent seasons), the start line of the Race has featured a task that teams had to complete before being allowed to continue racing (earlier seasons simply had teams run towards their backpacks and first clue). The task generally features an item that provides a hint to their first destination, such as a number plate particular to the city or the name of the country's national airline. In the 18th and 19th seasons, the last team to complete the task was given a penalty on top of having their last place departure; in the 15th season, the last place team was eliminated after having been unable to complete the task (out of 12 teams, there were only 11 clues and sets of plane tickets for their first destination).
The Express Pass, introduced in season 17, is given as a prize on an early leg of the race (usually the first leg, though it was awarded on the second leg of season 21 and offered on the second leg of season 25 - and on some international versions the pass is given out as late as leg 3). It allows the team to skip any single task (including Roadblocks, Detours, and miscellaneous tasks, but not the Fast Forward task), once, during the race. The choice of which task to skip is at the team's discretion, but the power, if unused, expires at the end of Leg 8. For season 22, the leg 1 prize was two Express Passes; however, the team that won them could only use one of them and had to relinquish the second Express Pass to another team before the end of the fourth leg, and for season 23 and season 24 they need to relinquish the second Express Pass to another team before the end of the fifth leg. In season 25, the Express Pass was given out in an optional task right before the Pit Stop, allowing any team to possibly win it rather than it being a definite award for a first place finish on the leg.
The Save was introduced in Season 25. On the first starting leg the first team to check-in at the pit stop first was awarded the save. The save prevented elimination from the winning team up until the end of the ninth leg of the race. This allowed the team who checked-in at the pit stop last and was eliminated to had over the save and continue racing. They were not eliminated.
The Hazard, introduced in season 19, is a penalty applied to the team who came in last at the starting line task. After completing a task (in season 19 it was a Roadblock), the team was given a different clue that directed them to another location where they found the Hazard clue. The Hazard consisted of a task that only one of the team members had to perform. The Hazard did not reappear since season 20, despite the inclusion of a similar task at the starting line.
Double Your Money
Season 21 introduced the Double Your Money prize, where if the team that finished first on the first leg won the race, their grand prize would double from $1 million to $2 million; however, the team that won the prize was eliminated before the final leg and no one was eligible to win the increased prize money. The Double Your Money prize was absent from subsequent seasons and was replaced by the 2 Express Passes.
The Check-in Mat
Teams complete each leg by stepping onto the Check-In Mat at the Pit Stop. All team members must be on the mat to be checked in, which can allow one team to bypass another in the leg final placement if one team member is slow arriving at the mat. The host will proceed to tell each team of their current standing. If the team has failed to do a task that they can correct, the host will tell them they must complete that before they can check in. In other cases, if the failure cannot be easily rectified, or the team has already accumulated penalties, they will be asked to wait out the penalty time to the side, which may allow other teams to check-in before them. Except on pre-determined non-elimination legs and on the final leg, the last team to check-in is eliminated from the Race. This has become dubbed "Philimination" as a portmanteau of the host's name and the word "elimination". If it is determined after teams have checked in that a team should have incurred a penalty that would have affected which team was eliminated, the affected teams are alerted to this after all other teams are checked in. Otherwise, such penalties are announced at the start of the next leg.
In later seasons, the team that arrives first on the mat during any leg besides the last will receive a prize, often trips, personal vehicles, or cash that they can "enjoy after the race". Teams may arrive simultaneously on the mat, which in some seasons has been treated as a tie with any prizes awarded from placement being given to all teams, while in others, has required teams to determine their finish order, with only one team winning placement prize. In this case, the teams will start the next leg one minute apart from each other.
One or more local greeters are present at the mat along with the host, and welcome the team to their country. During the first US season, host Keoghan only appeared with the greeters when the final team arrived to eliminate them. The mat itself is a bathmat-sized map of the world, though during US season 1 and some points during other races, the mat was decorated to represent the local culture.
As each team is checked in, the host will typically conduct a short interview, or a "Mat Chat", with the teams at the mat. Teams are then taken to the Pit Stop lodgings before the next team checks in. Often, in a tight race, multiple teams will arrive at the mat within a few seconds or minutes of each other, and the host will interview them all before they are taken to the lodgings. During the first US season, teams were seen loitering near the Pit Stop, and thus would see the arrival of other teams.
If a team is unable to complete an elimination leg due to injury, or are still performing tasks well long after all other teams have been checked-in, the host may go out to the team and announce their elimination. Alternatively, teams may be given a clue that instructs them to go directly to the Pit Stop, bypassing any other tasks that may have been on the leg, where they will be eliminated.
Pit Stops are the final destination in each leg of the race, and where all non-eliminated teams go after checking in at the mat. Each Pit Stop is a mandatory rest period which allows teams to "eat, sleep, and mingle" with each other. The production staff provides lodging (from simple accommodations as tents or cots to complete hotel service) and food free-of-charge to the teams at the Pit Stops. During the Pit Stop, teams are also interviewed to provide commentary and voice-overs for the completed leg. While teams are restricted to where they can go, teams are free to use the remaining time for any purpose as they see fit. In recent seasons of the U.S. version of the Race, teams have reported that they have been sequestered from other teams during Pit Stops. During Pit Stops, racers are sometimes required to relinquish Race-provided material from the previous legs, including clues, maps, and additional instructions. Teams are responsible for being ready to leave when their Pit Stop time is over, and no time credit is given should a team miss their time to leave.
Pit Stops, mostly in earlier seasons, are normally twelve hours long, such that if a team arrived at 9 a.m., they will depart on the next leg at 9 p.m. When the show encounters production issues or if planned ahead of time, the pit stop is often extended by multiples of 24 hours, such that teams will still leave what appears to be 12 hours later to the television viewer. However, viewers have been able to use dates and times displayed during the show and post-Race interviews to determine where these extended Pit Stops occur and their approximate length. In recent seasons, the Pit Stops have included ones of various lengths between 12 and 24 hours as to prevent teams from loitering at airports or finding flights that may get them too much of a lead on other teams. The longest known Pit Stop occurred during the first US season when production was forced to relocate the Pit Stop in Tunisia due to a sandstorm. This was the first instance of a "mobile pit stop", which also appeared in Seasons 15, and 16, where teams have been transported to another location during the pit stop, without any knowledge of their final destination.
Some Races have included a double-length leg, also called "to be continued" legs, shown over two episodes or a single two-hour long episode, where teams are not checked in at a Pit Stop but instead given a clue to continue racing. The clues that precede the mid-point of the double-length leg often will hint at a Pit Stop but will not include the normal language found in clues for normal-length legs that direct teams to the Pit Stop. In some cases, the host has been present along with the check-in mat to give teams their next clues. Double-length race legs were born out of necessity during Season 6. Leg 6 in Hungary was originally planned to be two legs, with a non-elimination point between the legs which would have stripped the last team of their money and not given them any at the start of the next leg. Producers discovered during the race that begging is illegal in Hungary, which would have made it nearly impossible for the last place team to acquire the money needed for the upcoming leg, and quickly devised the extended leg to mimic the effects of a non-elimination leg (keeping the same number of teams in the race), and using a simple video message clue to provide teams the goal for the first task of the second half of the leg.
More double-length legs were shown from Season 7 to Season 10, and another in Season 14. In addition, the season finale of the Family Edition contained a double-length leg similar to Season 6.
A number of legs on each Race are predetermined "non-elimination legs", where the last team to check-in is not eliminated. Up through US Season 4, there was no penalty for finishing last on a non-elimination leg; this was repeated on one of the legs in Season 17. In Seasons 5 through 9, the last team to check in was stripped of all their money and were not given any money at the start of the next leg, forcing that team to literally beg for money from the local population of the city they were in for such expenses as cab, bus or train fare. In addition, from Seasons 7 through 9, these teams would also be forced to give up all their bags, leaving them with only the clothes on their backs and the fanny-pack teams use to carry their passports and Race documentation; this last penalty caused many teams, thinking themselves to be in last, to wear as much clothing as possible before checking in. In Seasons 10 and 11, teams that came in last on non-elimination legs were "marked for elimination"; if they did not come in first on the subsequent leg, they would receive a 30 minute penalty upon check-in at the mat.
From Season 12 onward, the penalty for finishing last in a non-elimination leg is that the affected team will have to perform a "Speed Bump" task sometime during the next leg. Teams would be alerted to the upcoming Speed Bump by a Route Marker clue prior to it, while the Speed Bump itself is displayed in a manner similar to the Yield showing the affected team's picture at a stand near to the regular Route Marker. Once the team completes the Speed Bump task, they may receive the next clue that they would have gotten at the Route Marker, or they may have to backtrack to where the cluebox was initially to get their next clue, depending on the task. If the team does not complete the Speed Bump, they will receive a four-hour penalty at the pit stop.
In early US seasons, clues that directed teams to Pit Stops could be used to infer if that leg was a non-elimination leg; the normal language that ended each Pit Stop clue-"The last team to check in will be eliminated."-was replaced with "may be eliminated". In later seasons of the Race "may" was used in all legs except the first leg. Since Season 15, all clues leading to the Pit Stop have used the term may be eliminated, including the first leg, as the first leg in Season 15 was a non-elimination leg. On occasion, the second-to-last leg may use the term will be eliminated if there are no more non-elimination legs left in the Race before reaching the Finish Line.
Non-elimination legs give trailing teams a reason to stay in the competition - since there is a chance they might not be eliminated, they will continue to complete tasks and get to the Pit Stop as quickly as possible, to keep from falling further behind.
Season 10 introduced the first surprise elimination, when the last team to arrive at a checkpoint midway through the first leg was eliminated on the spot. At the end of the leg, there was a normal elimination at the Pit Stop, making it the first (and currently the only) season that two teams were eliminated in the same leg.
Season 15 made the second surprise elimination, where the last team remaining at a surprise Starting Line task of the Race was eliminated. However at the end of the leg, no one was eliminated at the Pit Stop as it was a non-elimination leg.
Season 19 featured the first double-elimination leg in the second leg, where two teams were eliminated at the same time at the Pit Stop.
The final leg of the race is run by the three remaining teams. In earlier U.S. seasons, the leg was a non-elimination or double-length leg, with an intermediate destination in or near the home country (such as Hawaii, Alaska or Canada for the U.S. version) prior to traveling to the final city back in the home country. However, in more recent Races, final legs have been single legs, whereby teams are flown directly from the final foreign country to the final city in the home country.
Teams still must complete all of the tasks in the final city before they are directed to the finish line mat to claim the cash reward for the winning team as well as various prizes. The mat has a world map in earlier seasons of the U.S. version, but changed to the series logo in later seasons. The grand prize for the U.S. version at the finish line is $1 million. At the check-in mat, the host and in most cases the other eliminated teams celebrate the arrival of the teams. Generally all three teams are allowed to arrive. In rare cases, a trailing team may be so far behind and outside the final city that they are given a clue at their next Route Marker that informs them of the Race results. To date, this has only happened twice in the U.S. version, occurring in seasons one and four.
More recent seasons feature a challenge which tests the contestants on their time spent during the race, such as the locations they visited and/or how well they know their partner. Such task usually appears as the second to last or last challenge. Such a challenge is usually a "Route Info" task, but it sometimes appears as a "Roadblock" task.
Rules and penalties
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. In a non-elimination leg, if the last team to arrive at the mat is checked in before a previous team has completed its penalty, then the remainder of the penalty time will be waited out at the start of the next leg of the race, beginning at the departure time of the next-to-last team.
While the complete set of official rules has not been released to the public, certain rules have been revealed during the race:
- Unless otherwise stated, such as during Roadblocks, team members must stay within 20 feet (6.1 m) of each other and stay close to their assigned camera and sound crew. When using any form of transportation, unless otherwise stated, teams must be able to travel with the camera crew. Teams are recorded requesting only two tickets after they have made their initial request for four.
- Teams are required to purchase economy class airfare when they fly, using the credit card provided by the show. The airline, at its discretion however may upgrade the team(s) for so long as there are no additional costs. Teams may use their cash stipend to purchase first-class fares for other modes of transportation. Teams may be forbidden from flying on certain airlines or restricted to specific airlines in some cases.
- Teams are prohibited from contacting friends, family, and acquaintances during the Race without supervision. The Race however may provide them with an opportunity to contact them at select times. When this happens while the race is going on, teams are not allowed to proceed to their next task. In special circumstances the production team will allow racers to contact family members outside of a race-required task.
- Unless otherwise stated by the clues, teams are allowed to use the help of locals for navigating and during tasks. Teams are required to have any locals who appear on camera sign release forms that legally clear the footage for use; some teams have avoided or reduced contacts with random local strangers because the release process can take a very long time to complete.
- Teams are free to work together at any point unless otherwise stated by the rules. Excluding the use of the Yield and U-Turn, teams are prohibited from hindering the performance of other teams such as by taking extra clues from a clue box, taking another team's assigned vehicle, altering the equipment for other teams at a task or using more than one Yield or one U-Turn at a time.
- Teams are prohibited from possessing maps, guidebooks, cell phones, personal digital assistants and other similar aids at the start of the Race, but may use the provided money to purchase these as they progress. These may be provided by the show if required for a certain task.
- Teams are prohibited from using their personal items to barter for services on the race, though they are not necessarily prohibited from selling them for cash. The teams' bags may be subject to review during Pit Stops by production. Teams are free to sell or barter any items they have purchased during the course of the race.
- In cases where teams are instructed to walk or drive themselves to a destination, teams are not allowed to hire a taxi to guide or take them through the route. In early seasons of the original series, teams frequently employed this tactic; several exchanges of dialogue in Season 17 indicate that it is now prohibited.
- Teams are expected to keep the Race fanny pack containing their cash, passports, clues, and other documents with them at all times. Teams that do not have these upon check-in at a Pit Stop are required to go back and retrieve the pack and any missing mandatory contents (e.g., passports) before being checked in. In one case, during Season 21, a team had one of their passports stolen by a cab driver during a non-elimination leg that was followed by a leg in the same country. The team was checked-in last for a non-elimination finish and allowed to race in the following leg but would be eliminated if they still lacked their passport by the time they were required to produce one for international travel. Teams may check in after losing or abandoning any non-mandatory items (e.g., items of clothing), but they must continue the race without them.
- Teams must complete each challenge as specified by the clues given to them throughout the Race. Should a team fail to properly complete a challenge, violate any provisions made in a clue or task description, or miss a clue altogether (unless specifically allowed to do so, e.g., by winning the Fast Forward, or by using an Express Pass), they must either go back to the location of the challenge and complete the challenge, or incur a penalty when they check in (see Penalties and time credits below).
- Should two teams arrive at an elimination point at the same time, the team with the lower place in the previous Leg is eliminated.
- Teams are forbidden from touching another team's belongings, such as removing them from a taxi to use the new taxi. However, if the taxi driver removes the items, the team will not be penalized.
- Teams are prohibited from begging where it is illegal. Teams are additionally prohibited from begging at U.S. airports.
- Racers may not smoke on the Race.
- Teams are required to abide by all local laws of the country on which they are racing.
- The teams are often given additional rules and instructions that apply specifically to a given leg or to a task supplied with one of the clues; these are usually not explained to the viewer unless they affect the Race results.
Penalties and time credits
If a team trying to check in at the Pit Stop has committed an infraction during the leg, the team generally must return to the point of infraction and perform the task or action correctly before being allowed to check in. If it is impossible to correct the action, the team is instead asked to wait at a nearby spot to serve a penalty period before being allowed to officially check in. The penalty for most rule infraction is 30 minutes, plus any time gained from breaking the rule. Some violations have longer penalties: two hours for bartering personal goods for services, up to four hours for failing to complete a miscellaneous task, four hours for failing to complete a Roadblock or Speed Bump, six hours for failing to complete a Detour (or completing a Fast Forward incorrectly), and 24 hours for flying outside of economy class, if doing so cost more than the economy class fare. Earlier seasons of the Race enforced a 24-hour penalty for not completing either Detour option, but by season 17, the penalty was reduced to six hours. If teams incur multiple penalties, they are cumulative.
Roadblock penalties. If a player is unable to complete the Roadblock, the team is assessed a four-hour penalty. The penalty can be enforced in a number of ways.
- If circumstances force the penalized team to continue racing (e.g., the site is about to close for the day), the penalty is served at the Pit Stop.
- If they are not forced to continue racing, and all teams have arrived at the Roadblock, the penalty begins the moment the team announces its intention 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.
A penalized team does not generally have to wait out its full penalty time at the Pit Stop if the team in last place and all other teams have already checked in. Instead, the team will be immediately eliminated, or, if the leg is non-elimination, the remainder of the penalty will be applied to the team's start time on the next leg. Occasionally, infractions have come to the production team's attention only after the team has checked in; in these cases, the penalty will be applied to the start of the next leg (with viewers given notification if it affects the departure order). In Season 3, such a situation resulted in changing which team finished in last place; production brought the penalized team back to the Pit Stop, where host Phil Keoghan explained to the teammates what had happened and then officially eliminated them.
Should a vehicle (including cars and boats) break down through no fault of the team using it, a replacement vehicle is provided for them, but "no time credit is given for their wait in this unlucky situation."
Teams may also receive time credits, applied to the next leg, that result from "production difficulties." These are only revealed to the viewer if they affect the placement at the start of the next leg.