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Visitor Information

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and NICS welcome visitors to the Laboratory. However, because of increased security requirements, accessing the site requires some pre-planning. If you are planning a visit to NICS, please email Angie Chance. You may also refer to the details below.

Face Coverings and COVID-19 Requirements

All staff and visitors approved to be at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are required to wear face coverings on campus to protect against the transmission and spread of COVID-19. Coverings must be worn indoors unless alone in an office or similar setting and outdoors when unable to socially distance at least six feet from others.

Short-term visitors – those requesting visitor access for a 30-day duration or less – must attest to being fully vaccinated or provide a negative COVID-19 test result from a certified testing center that is dated no more than 72 hours before the start of the visit. Unvaccinated short-term visitors who provide negative test results as specified above and are approved for site access will not be authorized prox card access to ORNL facilities (they must be escorted by their host); and they will be required for the duration of their visit to obtain a negative COVID-19 test result at least once per week from a certified testing center and be prepared to show evidence of the negative test result to their host. ORNL will not provide the COVID-19 testing required for short-term visitor access.

Long-term visitors – those requesting visitor access for more than 20 days duration – who do not attest to being fully vaccinated will be denied site access.

Before Arriving

Most of Bethel Valley Road, which is the main access route to ORNL from both directions, is now closed to the public. If you are planning a visit to ORNL, you will be required to have a host. Your host will arrange for you to proceed past entrance stations on Bethel Valley Road leading to the Laboratory’s Visitor Center. Please be aware that effective March 30, 2015 ORNL became fully compliant with the REAL ID Act. This Act requires that anyone accessing a Federal Facility, which ORNL is, must present a compliant form of identification. If you have a driver’s license that states “Not For Federal Identification,” you will need to provide another form of approved identification. Passports, Military ID and Personal Identity Verification are also acceptable forms of identification. If you have a license that states “Not For Federal Identification” and you do not have another form of compliant identification, ORNL will allow you to access the site, but you will be required to be escorted during your visit.

If you are not a DOE or DOE contractor employee, it is very important to arrange your visit to NICS in Oak Ridge ahead of time.

Getting to ORNL

ORNL is located in Roane County, Tennessee, about 7 miles from the center of the city of Oak Ridge and about 25 miles from the McGhee Tyson Airport near Knoxville.

Speed limits: Speeds limit signs are posted along the Bethel Valley Road entrance to ORNL. Once you have arrived at ORNL, the campus speed limit is 25 mph, unless otherwise posted. These limits are strictly enforced for the safety of staff members and visitors. Please observe the speed limits as you drive at ORNL.

Entering ORNL

The Visitor Services Office prepares a daily list of visitors for the Protective Force personnel, which is finalized by 4:30 p.m. EST on the preceding day. Your host will submit your name to that list. Upon your arrival at one of the two Bethel Valley Road entrance stations, have a compliant form of picture identification ready (REAL ID driver’s license) and your entry pass for the Protective Force officers so that they can quickly confirm you with the list. If you do not have a compliant form of identification, you will be allowed past the entrance station, but will be required to report to the ORNL Main Visitor Center where your host will need to meet and escort you for the duration of your visit.

The User Entry Pass is provided to approved visitors to expedite entry through security access points at ORNL. Present the entry pass, along with Real ID compliant identification, and you will be directed to the ORNL Visitor Center for assistance with visitor processing.

  • Approximately 7 days before your scheduled visit, you will receive an email from ORNL with an attached User Entry Pass.
  • Print the User Entry Pass and bring it with you when you visit ORNL.
  • Show the User Entry Pass and a photo ID to the security guard and the staff at the Visitors Center to expedite your access.
  • The pass also provides a map for locating the ORNL Visitor Center (or the LSS office if arriving after hours or on the weekend).
  • Note: After hours or weekend arrival must be prearranged with local contact or host.

Follow the signs directly to the ORNL Visitor Center to receive an ORNL visitor or photo badge, as appropriate. All photo badges are done at the Main Visitor Center. If you arrive and are not on the list of registered visitors, your ORNL host will then have to verify your visit with ORNL Security. It’s very important that arrangements are made before your visit.

Foreign national visitors must always present a Visa and Passport upon arrival at the ORNL Main Visitor Center.

ORNL Visitor Services ([email protected], 865.574.7199) can provide you with access to specific Laboratory areas based upon your needed access requirement during your visit. If you have any issues, please contact Angie Chance ([email protected], 865.241.0643).

Visitor Center hours are: Monday through Friday 7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Badging Office hours are: Monday 7 a.m. – 11 a.m. and Tuesday through Friday 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Deliveries to NICS

Non-DOE badged vendors and delivery personnel delivering goods to NICS at ORNL must have in their possession either a bill of lading, purchase order, or shipping order showing the need for access to NICS and the name and phone number of a point of contact who knows about the delivery. Persons in this category who do not have one of the above items in their possession will not be allowed site access. If a bona fide delivery is involved, the delivery vehicle driver will be afforded an opportunity to contact Visitor Services by telephone (865.574.7199) for needed assistance.

Building Access

Access to the NICS building is controlled with a “proximity card reader” system. The ORNL/NICS proximity card you receive at the Visitor Services Office should provide entrance into the building simply by placing the card in front of the proximity reader, located beside the doorway. When the light turns green and the door lock clicks, you may enter the building. If your proximity card does not give you access to a desired building, report to the Visitor Services Office.

Wireless Networking

As a visitor to ORNL and NICS, access to the ORNL wireless network and NICS wireless network are available to you in the NICS building. To gain access, you must have a PC or other portable device with wireless capability. If your PC or portable device does not have wireless capability, a limited number of wired-to-wireless Ethernet bridges may be available from your host organization.


At present, all tours are suspended due to COVID 19 restrictions. However, in normal times, special-guided, general orientation, and other “customized” tours are offered for groups of 10 persons or more. Tours are also offered for educational groups, which are interested in learning more about the history, current missions, and research and development at ORNL/NICS. Advance registration is required, participation is limited to U.S. citizens, and participants must be at least 10 years old. Other restrictions apply as well. For more information about the tour programs, contact Community Engagement at [email protected].