How is an Expo organised?

If a country wants to host a World Expo or a Specialised Expo, it must follow seven major steps.

To learn about the process of organising a Horticultural Expo, visit the website of the AIPH.

The Triennale di Milano is organised by the Triennale di Milano Institution.

  • 1. Submission of candidature

    Candidates submit their application

    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.

  • 2. Project Examination

    Candidates present and promote their projects

    Bid Dossier

    After the candidature phase, all candidates present a 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. These missions assess the feasibility and viability of the Expo project, the political and social climate of the candidate country and city and the support of relevant parties (government, local authoriteis and citizens) for the project.

    The following elements are evaluated:

    • The proposed theme (its definition and its content)
    • Date and duration
    • Location
    • Area of the Expo site
    • Number of expected visitors
    • Proposed measures to ensure financial feasibility and financial guarantees
    • Indicators that will allow the evaluation of the participation costs for countries and the proposed financial and material provisions to minimize this cost.
    • Attitude of relevant authorities and interested parties
    • Public support for the project
    • Environmental impact of the project
    • Plans for the communication and promotion of the project

    The results of the Enquiry Missions are compiled in a report, reviewed by the Executive Committee of the BIE and forwarded with advice to the General Assembly. The Member States are asked to approve or not the recommendations of the Executive Committee, based on each Enquiry Mission Report, on whether each project should be considered viable or not and allowed to progress to the final vote at the following General Assembly. Once approved, the report forms the basis of evaluation by the BIE Member States during the vote.

    International campaign - project development

    In order to garner support for their Expo project, candidate countries carry out international campaigns as soon as they have submitted their bid to host an Expo.

    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.

  • 3. Election

    BIE Member States vote for the host country

    At the end of the project examination phase, BIE Member States vote for the host country by secret ballot during the BIE General Assembly.

    The selection criteria are based on the feasibility and the viability of the Expo project as determined by the Enquiry Mission, as well as the appeal of the proposed Expo theme and whether it allows for the participation of each country in the Expo. Member States also take into consideration their bilateral relations with the candidate countries when considering their vote.

    Each Member State has one vote, and Member States are given priority over non-Member States for the organisation of an Expo. In the absence of a bid from a Member State, bids from non-Member States require a two thirds majority in any round of voting to secure the right to organise the Expo. 

    Voting procedure:

    • In the case of one or two candidates, the right to host an Expo is awarded to the country that obtains a simple majority of votes for or against.
    • If there are more than two candidates, then a country must receive a two thirds majority in order to be elected in the first round. If no proposal receives a two thirds majority in the first round, the proposal that receives the least amount of votes is eliminated. This procedure carries on until there are only two candidates left. The host country will then be elected by a simple majority.

    After a country wins the right to host an Expo, it continues to work closely with the BIE to formalise the Expo project.

  • 4. Registration or Recognition of the Expo project

    The BIE "registers" or "recognises" the Expo

    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:

    • Legislative and financial measures
    • The legal status of the Expo organisers
    • The development of the theme (theme selection, its definition, its development, applications)
    • The duration of the Expo
    • The master plan of the site
    • The financial plan
    • A preliminary promotional and communication plan (national and international)
    • Post-Expo plan
    • The commercial strategy of the organisers

    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.

  • 5. Preparation and implementation of the Expo project

    The host country implements its Expo project

    It is only after the registration or the recognition of an Expo project that the host country officially begins preparations for the event, including:

    • Planning, building and operating the site
    • Sending out, through diplomatic channels, official invitations to governments and international organisations to participate to the Expo
    • Working with participants and establishing the Participation guide. The host country will be in regular contact with the BIE Member States in order to optimise their participation to the Expo.
    • Developing the theme and implementing related activities
    • Planning and organising the programs related to city development, culture, and events
    • Finalising special regulations and implementing them
    • Finalising communication and promotion plans and implementing them


    During this phase, Expo organisers are required to report regularly (twice a year) to the BIE:

    • The Executive Committee, to present the advancement of Expo preparations
    • The Rules Committee, to present the special regulations of the event
    • The Information and Communication Committee, to present the Expo communication strategy
    • The General Assembly, to present an overall progress report. BIE Member States may make recommendations or ask for certain measures to be taken in order to ensure the smooth running of the Expo.
  • 6. The Expo

    The Expo opens

    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.

  • 7. Post-Expo

    The host city develops its post-Expo plan

    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.

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