The Government of the State wishing to organise an Expo must submit a letter of candidature to the BIE mentioning the proposed theme, the proposed dates, the duration of the Expo and the legal status of the organisers. The letter must guarantee the full support of the government.
To apply for World Expos, candidates must submit their applications between 6 and 9 years before the proposed opening dates of the Expo.
To apply for Specialised Expos, candidates must submit their applications between 5 and 6 years before the proposed opening dates of the Expo.
After one country has submitted its application, any other government wishing to organise an exhibition for the same period has six months to submit its own application to the BIE.
There must be at least 15 years between any two Expos organised in the same country. If the Government submitting the application is not the organiser of the Expo, it must officially recognise the organisers and guarantee the fulfilment of their obligations.
At the end of the six-month period followign the submission of the first application, call candidates present a full bid dossier based on defined specifications. These bid dossiers will be used as the basis for the work of BIE Enquiry Missions that will be carried out in candidate countries.
Enquiry Mission – project assessment
Enquiry missions are carried out by the BIE in each candidate country. They assess the feasibility and viability of the Expo project, the political and social climate of the candidate country and city and the support of the government for the project.
The following elements are evaluated:
The results of these missions are compiled in a report, reviewed by the Executive Committee of the BIE and forwarded with advice to the General Assembly. The General Assembly then decides which proposals the BIE will further investigate. Once approved, the report forms the basis of evaluation by the BIE Member States during the vote.
International campaign - project development
As soon as they submit the initial application, candidate countries carry out international campaigns to garner support for their project. They organise international symposiums, forums and other activities and travel the world to meet with representatives of BIE Member States.
During each General Assembly of the BIE held between the submission of the bid and the final vote, candidate countries have the opportunity to present their Expo project to delegates.
At the end of the bidding phase, BIE Member States vote for the host country by secret ballot during the BIE General Assembly. Each Member State has one vote and priority is given to candidatures submitted by Member States.
This procedure applies to Member States only; a two thirds majority is required for a non-Member State candidate to win the right to host an Expo.
After a country wins the right to host an Expo, it continues to work closely with the BIE to formalise the Expo project.
After the vote, the future host country must formalise its Expo project by submitting a complete and definitive implementation plan for the Expo. This formalisation is called "registration" for World Expos and "recognition" for Specialised Expos.
For World Expos, the registration dossier must be submitted to the BIE at least five years before the opening date. For Specialised Expos, the recognition dossier must be submitted at least four years before the opening date.
The registration or recognition dossiers must address:
The dossier must be accompanied by the Expo's general regulations, the participation contracts that will be addressed to the future participants, the documents establishing and guaranteeing compensation in case of cancellation and any special regulations regarding the theme, the financial and material conditions for participation and the measures to minimize participation costs.
It is only after the registration or the recognition of an Expo project that the host country officially begins preparations for the event, including:
During this phase, Expo organisers are required to report regularly (twice a year) to the BIE:
The Expo lasts up to three or six months according to its category. The scope of the event and its millions of visitors require very tight logistics, careful coordination and an extremely busy calendar of events and activities. During this period, the organising team may be composed of several thousand people, including volunteers.
The closing of the Expo is the beginning of a new life for the area. A team is created to ensure the good management of the post-Expo plan and make sure the site is transformed to fit the development needs of the region.
The BIE accompanies countries in this post-Expo phase and verifies that the plan presented during the preparation of the Expo is being properly implemented.