Pop up Licensing for Shows and Exhibitions

The organizer or host of an event or show must obtain a City of Chicago Pop-Up License. 
By obtaining this license, an organizer of an event with retail vendors can sponsor participant vendors on a single license application. Organizers may apply online via Chicago Business Direct or in person.

For information on how to apply, see the organizer one pager.  

For more information on other license types, go to the Business Licensing Guide Page

Frequently Asked Questions

What counts as a show?

  • A show includes but is not limited to art fairs, consumer fairs, trade fairs, expositions, or shows where merchandise or services are sold.


What do I need to include in the list of participating vendors?

  • Format your list per the sample below. For those vendors that have a current active pop-up user license valid for the duration of the show, indicate the expiration date of that license. If one or more vendors do not have an IL Sales Tax number, you will be asked to provide a Special Event Tax Collection Report and Payment Coupon from the IL Department of Revenue.



Name of Vendor

Name of Business


Items to be Sold

IL Sales Tax #

Pop Up Lic. Acct Number and Exp. Date (if applicable)















What is the license fee?

  • License fees will be calculated based on the number of vendors indicated on the list of participating vendors as not having a current and active pop-up user license, multiplied by the per-user fee. The per-user fee for a show lasting 5 days or less is $25.


How will vendors who have a previously issued pop-up license be treated?

  • All vendors participating in the show must be indicated on the list of participating vendors. Those who hold current active pop-up licenses for the duration of the show will not be counted towards the final fee.


Can an individual show vendor obtain a pop-up license for a show?

  • Show vendors cannot obtain an individual pop-up user license specifically to participate in a show. Organizers must submit a single license application with a list of all participating vendors (per the example above). The resulting license issued to the show host will cover the host and all participating vendors on the list.


I am an organizer and already have a license as an organizer that is still current and active – do I need a new license for upcoming shows?

  • Your license has been issued for a specific show location. If your future shows will occur at the same location, you may use the same license for as long as it is current and active, submitting a new list of participating vendors for each show, and paying the associated fee. However, you will need to obtain a separate and distinct license for each distinct show location.


How can food vendors participate in a show?

  • Food vendors selling only nonperishable prepackaged food may be included on the list of participating vendors cited above.
  • Other food vendors must obtain a Pop-Up Food Establishment User Tier II License (menu items requiring temperature control for safety and/or a final on-site preparation step such as tossing a prepackaged salad or plating prepackaged food) or Tier III License (operation on-site as a full-service restaurant) independently. In order to host such users, the owner or lessee of the premises of the location where the vendors will be located must also obtain a Pop-Up Food Establishment Tier II or Tier III Host License. Tier II and Tier III licenses require a consultation with and inspection by the Chicago Department of Public Health.

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