Plan Your Visit

Congratulations on your beamtime award. We have returned to full onsite operations, and awarded PIs are expected to send an experimental team that can effectively run the experiment after initial training. Remote options are available to supplement in person participation and provide educational opportunities.

To help plan for your trip to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and your experiment at HFIR and SNS, the Plan Your Visit Checklist is available to help keep track of important steps to complete before arriving. You may view additional details below or contact the User Office with any questions on the current guidelines.

Download the printable PDF of the user checklist here

Proposal Confirmation

Confirm your proposal via the action item on your IPTS homepage. You will be asked to provide information on lab needs, samples, safety and unavailable dates. Confirming these details of your awarded proposal is an important step that should be completed as soon as possible (ideally within 3 days of award notice) to ensure effective planning for your experiment.

Be aware that changes to samples and sample environment are subject to facility approval. Samples and sample environment changes that have not been reviewed and approved will not be run. If you make changes to the experiment, you will be required to re-confirm the proposal to obtain facility authorization of the changes.


Ensure all team members have an ORNL User ID. Visit the ORNL Guest Portal to create an account to access ORNL computer resources. You will need to register as a CNMS/SNS/HFIR user. Your account (sometimes referred to as XCAMS) will be used for access to the Integrated Proposal Tracking System (IPTS) as well as Analysis for data access and remote instrument control. We recommend checking your connection to ahead of time and reaching out to Linux support with any issues.

Confirm Your Participation

You will get an automated email from IPTS when your experiment is scheduled. This email will contain a link to report how you will participate in your experiment. You should respond to this invitation quickly to ensure effective planning for your experiment. Your response to the participation notice alerts ORNL user assistants to assess next steps needed to prepare you for onsite or remote access for your upcoming experiment. Failure to indicate your preferred participation type quickly could prevent or delay your ability to participate in the experiment. Remote users should reference the User Guide to Remote Experiments

Once you have confirmed your participation, a user assistant will contact you with additional steps needed to prepare for your potential visit and/or remote access.

Pre-Experiment Communication

Communicate with instrument staff on experiment details. Instrument staff will communicate with user teams about experiment planning via email, IPTS, or Slack. To get started with Slack, log into the Slack ORNL Neutron Sciences Workspace with your ORNL user ID and password. Private Slack channels for individual experiments are typically created when an experiment gets scheduled. All instrument and experiment team members are automatically added to the experiment-specific Slack channel, provided they have previously joined the ORNL Neutron Sciences Workspace. Joining the Workspace now will ensure immediate access to the appropriate Slack channel(s) once they are created. You need only join the Workspace one time.

ORNL Site Access Approval

All users are required to have ORNL site access approval in place before visiting ORNL’s campus. Respond promptly to all ORNL access invitations and emails from the User Office to avoid potential delays to your experiment. Please ensure that the name provided upon registration matches the legal name on your passport, visa, photo I.D., etc. Processing time requires 3 business days for U.S. citizens and up to 20 business days for foreign nationals.

Additional requirements for foreign nationals

Current passport information will be required (excepting LPR/green card holders). The request will not be processed if the passport date provided is expired.

All Foreign National visitors are required to submit a curriculum vitae/resume covering all work positions and academic institutions attended. This requirement from DOE headquarters applies to all Foreign National visitors regardless of citizenship, affiliation, or subject being discussed. Before CV/resume submission please ensure that the following criteria is met:

  • CV must cover the last 10 years of work experience and education if you graduated high school more than 10 years ago.
  • If you graduated high school less than 10 years ago, the CV must cover all work and education experience from high school graduation to current date. The high school's name and graduation date must be included under the education section.
  • Employment should include start and end dates, employer name, job title, and job description.
  • Education should include academic institution name, start and end dates, field of study, and degree earned.
  • Include a list of science and technology specialties.
  • If you have no previous work experience, please note as such on the resume/CV.
  • If there are any gaps between months/years, please explain what was taking place during that time (e.g., school breaks, seeking employment, studying for entrance exams, family leave).
ID and Required Documents

Users must present the proper identification and travel documents when they arrive at ORNL. Anyone who fails to present these, will not be permitted site access and will be unable to conduct research at HFIR or SNS.


ORNL is a Federal Facility and will, in compliance with the REAL ID Act, require an acceptable form of identification:

  • A REAL ID compliant state driver's license
  • A passport
  • A military ID

Users without compliant identification will not be allowed access to ORNL or its facilities (HFIR and SNS).

If you hold a driver's license from one of the noncompliant states, you will need an alternate ID. For more information on REAL ID and to check if your state is compliant, please visit the TSA website and the DHS Real ID Brief.

Additional Documentation for Foreign Nationals

A current passport and visa documents, or LPR (green) card, are required for foreign nationals to participate in research at ORNL. For example, I-797, DS-2019, or I-20 forms or EAD cards. These items must be presented to the receptionist at the Visitor Center.

Individuals traveling from outside the United States must arrive with a Business - Type Visa, either a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) - Business or Visitor Visa - Business (B-1) status. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) office has moved to an electronic version of the I-94 visa status form. To verify your visa status visit prior to leaving the port of entry. If the notation says anything other than VWB/B-1 (e.g. Tourist/B-2), or if it is blank, you must explain to the immigration officer that you are entering the U.S. for business and require a notation that reflects a business visit. Before leaving the immigration station, carefully inspect the notation and ensure that it says VWB or B-1.


User Agreement

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) requires UT-Battelle (ORNL's operating contractor) and a user's institution to sign, in advance, a standard agreement. This agreement covers topics such as intellectual property, liability, site access, safety, and publications. The User Agreement is not project specific and applies to most of an institution's approved Neutron Sciences proposals.

Verify your Institution has a User Agreement with ORNL:

  • Log in to the ORNL Guest Portal
  • Click on “Edit Profile” from the menu.
  • View the “User Agreements List” at the bottom of the profile. If your institution has an active agreement with UT-Battelle, it will be displayed here.
  • If there is no agreement listed, contact the User Office to complete the process. It is likely you have already been contacted by to complete this step. If so, follow the instructions in the email you received by having the agreement signed by someone legally authorized to commit your institution to legal agreements and contracts, and returning the signed agreement to

Read and Acknowledge the Institution User Agreement:

  • Once you have verified that your institution has a user agreement in place with ORNL, you must read and acknowledge the terms of the agreement.
  • Log in to the ORNL Guest Portal.
  • Click on the link labeled “Read and Acknowledge the terms of the Nonproprietary User Agreement” on your home page.
  • Complete this step and click on “Accept Agreement.”
  • This step only needs to be done the first time you participate in an experiment until/unless you change institutions.
User Charter

All users must read the User Charter before arriving at ORNL to understand the rights and responsibilities of a user. A pdf version of the User Charter can be found here.

User Charter: Rights and Responsibilities of Neutron Sciences Users

Rights of Users:

  • Be treated with respect and courtesy.
  • Have details of experiment proposals kept confidential.
  • Have consultations with instrument staff before proposal submission, during experiment planning, and while evaluating results and analyzing data.
  • Receive beam time on the basis of external peer evaluation of submitted proposals. Users can appeal denial of beam time.
  • Expect facilities to operate predictably and reliably. Support is available around the clock to assist users. If an experiment cannot be conducted because of instrument or facility problems, the experiment will be rescheduled.
  • Receive training on safe and effective operation of instruments.
  • Receive reasonable consumable experimental supplies from ORNL.
  • Have opportunity to use own equipment for an experiment after an ORNL safety review is successfully completed.

Responsibilities of Users:

  • Treat facility staff with respect and courtesy.
  • Conduct activities with the highest scientific, professional, and ethical standards.
  • Reach agreement with instrument staff on the extent of collaboration expected by users and ORNL staff, including coauthorship of resulting publications.
  • Bring an experimental team that can effectively function on its own after initial training. ORNL staff can not perform experiments for users.
  • Work with instrument staff while planning experiments and confirm all the details, including team members, samples, laboratory needs, and equipment.
  • Complete required training, have a valid user agreement, and follow safety and security rules.
  • Submit full citations of all publications resulting from research.
  • Appropriately acknowledge DOE, ORNL, and the specific instrument in the research results submitted for publication. Recognize the significant effort of the instrument team and consider, as appropriate, co-authorship in the resulting publication.
  • Respond to survey requests after the experiment in a timely manner.
  • Participate as a reviewer of experimental proposals as requested.
Sample Preparation

Communicate sample arrival plans with instrument staff. If you plan to ship your samples to ORNL, review the detailed shipping guide for shipping requirements.

Mail samples and equipment to arrive 7 business days before the scheduled beam time to avoid delays or loss of beamtime. Communicate with your local contact if exceptions to this policy are required (e.g., time-sensitive/perishable samples).

Training and Safety

Safety is integral to the ORNL mission. Users must agree to adhere to all safety requirements and complete the training deemed necessary for safe operations. Training is both web-based and in person at ORNL before experiments begin.

Prearrival, Web-Based Training

The User Office will contact you with information about your required training and provide the appropriate links. The following web-based trainings must be completed trough the Guest Portal before arriving:

  • ORNL Site Access Training
  • HFIR General User Access Training (GUAT for Neutron Scattering Users) for all HFIR experiments
  • SNS Experiment Hall Access Training for all SNS experiments
  • Radiological Worker Training for HFIR and SNS users
  • Scientific Laboratory Access Training for Neutron Science Users

On-site Training

The Practical Factors Evaluation (PFE) is required after the successful completion of the web-based Radiological Worker Training. PFE classes are held at the SNS user lounge Monday through Friday and scheduled by the User Office once your arrival date has been determined.

The PFE will appear in your account once it is assigned. This does not indicate you must complete the PFE training online. The PFE can only be completed in person after you check in for your experiment.

The Rad Worker HFIR User Supplement is required for HFIR users after the completion of the PFE. These classes are held Monday through Friday and scheduled by the User Office at the same time we schedule your PFE.

Depending on experiment details, laboratory and instrument specific trainings may also be required. You will be contacted to schedule these trainings.


When to Arrive

Plan to arrive a full day in advance of your scheduled beam time to complete onsite training. By completing this training the day before scheduled beam time, research can begin more quickly the following day. This is especially helpful for short experiments.

After you finalize your travel arrangements, communicate your arrival date with the User Office to ensure site access and training are scheduled for the correct day.

Notice on Availability, Scheduling, and Travel

HFIR and SNS are committed to ensuring the neutron sources and beam line equipment are available to users in accordance with published schedules. However, there may be occasions when the neutron sources and/or beam line equipment are not available as planned.

When beam time is lost due to neutron source or beam line system issues, we are committed to actively working with users to reschedule beam time to minimize the impact on users. However, to limit overall user community impact, the schedule for unaffected experiments will be maintained.

In accordance with our sponsor's policies, please be aware ORNL cannot reimburse users for travel expenses they may incur should the neutron source beam line equipment not be available. It is recommended to only purchase refundable transportation tickets. 

COVID-19 Guidance

COVID-19 guidance and restrictions while working on campus will vary based on changes in the local community transmission levels between LOW, MEDIUM, and HIGH. To prevent transmission, remember to:

  • Wear a face mask indoors when community levels are high.
  • Wear a face mask in government vehicles (e.g. campus taxi) when community levels are medium or high.
  • Stay off campus if you are sick or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Notify your local contact and get tested. You may not return to campus until you receive a negative COVID-19 test.

Consult our COVID-19 Guidelines webpage for expectations for working onsite based on COVID-19 community level guidance. The U.S. CDC website provides travel guidelines for visitors to the U.S.

How to Get Here

ORNL can only be directly accessed by car. Teams are required to provide their own vehicle and licensed driver for navigating the ORNL campus and surrounding area. The route from HFIR to the ORNL Guest House is not walkable, local transportation services are not consistently available, and ORNL taxi services are limited to business hours (7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) on weekdays. Local contacts and other staff members cannot provide transportation services. In addition, there is no on-campus grocery and meal options are limited at ORNL on evenings and weekends.

Review the driving directions to ORNL and the HFIR and SNS site maps

Taxis and ride sharing services are permitted to travel onsite if they are dropping off or picking up a valid ORNL visitor.

Note that only drivers that are US Citizens, or non-US citizens with an ORNL badge, can pass the ORNL security check point. You will need to confirm with the taxi or ride sharing service that the driver meets one of these criteria. During business hours, ride shares may only drop off/pick up at the main campus visitor's center or the Guest House. 

Outside of business hours, ride shares may only drop off/pick up at the Guest House or LSS. For any additional questions concerning permitted taxi services, contact the Visitor Center at (865) 574-7199 or

Arriving by Air

McGhee Tyson Airport

McGhee Tyson Airport is conveniently located about a 40-minute drive by car from ORNL and is frequently used by visitors. Rental cars and taxis offer transportation from the airport to ORNL. See below for driving to ORNL from McGhee Tyson Airport.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia is about a three-and-a-half-hour drive (224 miles) by car to ORNL. About 150 domestic and 70 international destinations are served from this airport. Rental cars are available at the airport. See driving directions below for driving to ORNL from Atlanta, Georgia

Nashville International Airport

Nashville International Airport in Nashville, Tennessee is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive (160 miles) by car to ORNL.  Rental cars are available at the airport. See directions below for driving to ORNL from Nashville, Tennessee.

Arriving by Car

Be aware when driving to ORNL navigation systems may attempt to direct you on restricted routes. Cars can only access ORNL through the vehicle entrances (portals) located on both ends of Bethel Valley Road (pdf map).

Driving to ORNL from McGhee Tyson Airport

Driving to ORNL from the East (Knoxville)

Driving to ORNL from the West (Nashville)

Driving to ORNL from the South (Atlanta or Chattanooga)

Driving to ORNL from the North (Lexington)

Driving to ORNL from Oak Ridge


The ORNL Guest House is a convenient onsite location for users to stay close by throughout their experiment. The Guest House is located a short walk from SNS and about a 10-minute drive from HFIR, and offers several amenities, such as a free breakfast and fitness center, for those who stay there.

If you plan to stay at the ORNL Guest House, please be sure the name listed on your Guest House reservations matches the legal name provided for your ORNL site access request. Please do not use nicknames or variations of your name when making reservations. If the name on your reservation does not match the name listed on your ORNL access request, you will not be allowed to enter ORNL campus. 

Alcoholic beverages are not allowed on the ORNL campus, including the ORNL Guest House.

For those who would prefer to stay offsite, there are a variety of long and short-term hotels and other accommodations in Oak Ridge and Knoxville. Keep in mind there is no ORNL or public transportation available, and you must provide your own transportation to and from offsite accommodations.

Food Service

The SNS cafeteria is in Bldg. 8600 and is open Monday – Friday from 7:00am – 9:30am, and 10:45am – 1:15pm. For evenings and weekends, there are prepackaged meals and snacks available to purchase using the self-service check-out kiosk. The HFIR canteen is in Bldg. 7910 and offers a limited lunch meal Monday – Friday from 10:45am – 12:15pm. Break rooms with vending machines, microwaves and refrigerators are available at both HFIR and SNS.

Numerous restaurants and grocery stores are available 24/7 in Oak Ridge. Food deliveries can be made to the ORNL Guest House. Note that only drivers that are US Citizens, or non-US citizens with an ORNL badge, can pass the ORNL security check point to deliver food. You will need to confirm with the restaurant when ordering that the delivery driver meets one of these criteria.


From 8am-5pm please notify the main campus visitors center by calling 865-574-7199 and let them know that you are expecting a food delivery to the guest house. They will notify the security guards to expect the delivery. After hours/weekends when the visitors center is closed, inform the delivery driver that they will need to provide the security guard with your name (or the person they will be delivering food too) so the security guard can verify you have a badge and are on site to receive the delivery.

Arrival Instructions

The arrival process for Neutron Sciences users consists of five steps and must be completed at the beginning of each visit to ORNL. Users staying offsite do not need to repeat every step for each subsequent trip onsite during their experiment.

Users should be familiar with the process before arriving.

  1. Stop at the security checkpoint and present your identification for admittance to the ORNL campus.
  2. Pick up your badge at the Chestnut Ridge Visitors Center located on the second floor at the SNS (8600 Spallation Drive), Monday – Friday between 7:30am-4:00pm Eastern. Evening/weekend arrivals must be arranged in advance with the User Office.
  3. Check in with the User Assistant on duty that day to pick up your dosimeter and verify training is complete/scheduled.
  4. Check in with sample management staff. SNS Sample Check-In is located on the 2nd floor in K-202 (around the corner from the previous sample check in area K-201). HFIR Sample Check-In is located in the Cold Guide Hall next to the CG-3 beamline.
  5. Meet with your local contact for instrument training and signing the ESS (Experiment Safety Sheet).

Contact an Instrument Hall Coordinator (IHC) at 865-241-4432, available 24-7, if you need technical support at any time during your experiment.

For a details on onsite and local ammenities, go to Onsite at ORNL.