While watching The Amazing Race, it feels like that the teams don't know which country they will be visiting next and they finds out only while opening the clue at the start of the each leg. If this is true, how are the visa requirements for travel fulfilled? Visa on arrival can be one option. However, in the US-based seasons of the show, teams visited some countries that do not issue visas on arrival to US citizens (like China, Russia).

Do the teams already know which countries they will be visiting prior to the production? If so, I believe this give the teams an advantage as they can study about these countries and prepare themselves.

1 Answer 1


Per this reddit AMA with a show contestant, the production team tried to throw contestants off the scent using four main techniques;

  • Getting contestants to fill out visa forms for more countries than will be visited
  • Getting contestants to fill out visa forms that are never even submitted
  • Taking the contestants to countries where visas can be acquired on entry
  • Taking contestants to countries where visas aren't required

Things may have changed, I'm apparently narcissistic because I stopped watching after the episode where we lost (actually it was just kind of painful to see all the stuff we could have done.)

The legs for our season were kind of planned last minute. We were originally supposed to start shooting in fall of 2001, but well, 9-11 happened so suddenly we spent half the season in Europe, even though we had visas for Egypt, Oman, Myanmar, and several other cool as hell middle eastern nations.

Since all the visa paperwork had to be done beforehand, they make you get visas for a dozen or so countries to try and throw you off. I was pretty confident we'd be going to Africa and the middle east, so the only jacket I packed was a hoodie (like a true Californian). Our first destination ended up being the Italian Alps.

this is backed up in a USATOday interview with the show's presenter; Phil Keoghan

Q: 'Race' shows useful travel survival skills, but it can make getting from country to country look way too easy. How do contestants have the proper visas if they don't find out where they're going until the last minute?

PK: Anybody who's selected sends a passport in, and we get visas. But we make it confusing. They get extra visas for countries they're not going to. Even if they get a visa for China, they don't know where in China they're going. And some visas are not necessarily given right away. Even the crews (accompanying contestants) don't know where they're going.

It's also worth pointing out that this is a TV show and not a documentary. That means that certain elements (for example long, boring sequences where people fill out forms and sit around in hotel lobbies waiting for visas to arrive) are simply edited out.

  • For the record, I'm guessing that anyone who goes on this show (and gets a whole bunch of short-term entry visas that they don't end up using) will probably end up on the FBI "airline watch list" as a potential terrorist/drug smuggler :-)
    – user7812
    Apr 13, 2016 at 14:08
  • I almost sounds like the show has the contestants fill out the paperwork, but the production staff actually submits the visa applications for them (probably in bulk) so they only get the visas they need and are going to use. That said, Amazing Race sounds like an awesome way to make a little side-money smuggling drugs.
    – KutuluMike
    Apr 13, 2016 at 15:49
  • @KutuluMike - My understanding is that there are agencies that specialise in procuring visas in bulk specifically for the purposes of "round the world" trips. My guess is that you (the traveler) sign a bunch of paperwork and they deal with the rest. It would be quite easy to bamboozle the average contestant into thinking they'd applied for 50 visas when only two of them are actually completed in full.
    – user7812
    Apr 13, 2016 at 15:56

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