Pop up Licensing for Shows and Exhibitions

The organizer or host of a trade show or exhibition (“show”) must obtain a City of Chicago Pop-Up Host License. 
The Pop-Up Host License allows the organizer to sponsor participant vendors on a single license application. Pop-Up Hosts must apply for their Host license in person at the Small Business Center located at 121 N LaSalle St, Room 800. For more information on what to expect during your visit, see the visit us page.

For information on how to apply, see the Pop Up Host 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.


Will the City still be issuing Pop-Up User licenses to individual show vendors?

  • Show vendors will no longer be able to obtain individual pop-up user licenses to participate in a show. To make the process easier, hosts will 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 a host and already have a host license that is valid for a longer duration – do I need to apply again 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 valid, submit a new list of participating vendors for each show, and pay 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 host 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.


I Want To