IAEE Logo - Trade Show Rules & Regulations

At Local Exhibits, we understand that your a large portion of your success on the show floor hinges on adherence to industry regulations. That’s why we’ve curated this standardized guide to the general policies based on IAEE’s Guidelines for Display Rules and Regulations.

To acquire a clear framework for planning an upcoming exhibit, exhibitors can refer to various sources for guidance. Essential information about a trade show’s regulations can be located within:

  • The prospectus
  • The terms & conditions
  • The booth-space rental contract
  • The exhibitor services manual

Keeping these documents readily available equips exhibitors with all the necessary information for a successful trade show experience.

Your Roadmap to Trade Show Success: A Glimpse into the Guidelines

The International Association of Exhibitions and Events’s (IAEE) General Guidelines and Policies provide a foundational framework for exhibitors looking to make a lasting impression at trade shows. These standards cover a myriad of aspects, including booth design, height restrictions, flooring requirements, signage, and much more. Our guide distills these complex regulations into actionable insights, helping you ensure compliance effortlessly. However, you should always consult the specific event’s guidelines for any additional rules or updates.

Booth Sizes

Booth sizes and configurations must adhere to the show’s guidelines. Be sure to confirm your booth dimensions before designing your exhibit.

Height Restrictions

There are typically height restrictions for booth displays. Ensure your display complies with these limits to avoid issues during the show.

Exhibit Materials

Use fire-resistant materials for your booth construction and consider the weight and durability of materials to prevent accidents.

Lighting & Electricity

Follow regulations for electrical and lighting installations to ensure safety. Avoid overloading circuits to prevent disruptions.

Aisles & Access

Maintain clear aisles and accessibility for all attendees. Don’t obstruct neighboring exhibits or fire exits.

Signage & Branding

Ensure your branding and signage adhere to event guidelines. Avoid blocking sightlines or encroaching on neighboring booths.

Sound & Noise

Keep sound levels in check to avoid disturbing neighboring exhibitors. Soundscapes should enhance, not detract from the overall experience.

Fire Safety

A critical aspect — know the location of fire extinguishers and emergency exits. Avoid open flames and ensure your booth materials are fire-resistant.


Secure valuable items within your booth and be aware of show security measures. Report any suspicious activity promptly.


Follow the event’s dismantling schedule and guidelines. Leave your space as you found it and dispose of materials properly.

To simplify matters for newcomers to exhibiting and to assist experienced exhibitors who may struggle with keeping track of all these regulations, here’s a list of some crucial guidelines to bear in mind.

1. Outboarding and Suitcasing Are Prohibited

If you’re not familiar with these terms, they refer to attempts at sales and meetings that take place in unauthorized locations or involve unauthorized individuals. Attempting to conduct business without going through the proper channels and paying the required fees is strongly discouraged. Trade show organizers take steps to prevent such actions.

Suitcasing happens when external businesses or individuals not affiliated with the trade show attempt to attract attendees for business purposes.

Outboarding occurs when companies try to host separate events or meetings outside the exhibition hall to divert attendees away from the main show. This may involve using nearby hotel event or meeting rooms to attract potential clients away from the trade show. 

2. Stay Within Your Booth Space

Your booth-rental contract typically includes a “confines of booth” clause, which means that you are not allowed to engage in formal marketing or promotional activities outside your designated booth area. You should refrain from wandering around the convention hall distributing pamphlets, promotional items, or other materials to attendees.

3. Adhere to Exhibit Size Regulations

Different venues have specific height regulations for exhibits. The type of exhibit you have, whether it’s an in-line exhibit, perimeter in-line, or island exhibit, determines the maximum height your booth design elements can reach. These height restrictions can vary significantly, so consult your informational resources for precise specifications. These dimensions also adhere to the “line-of-sight” rule, which means your booth’s features should not obstruct the view of other exhibits. Violating this rule could result in costly corrections before the next day’s events.

4. Comply With Federal Regulations

Federal regulations, particularly the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, apply to trade shows. This means that every exhibit at a trade show must be designed to provide access for individuals with disabilities. You can easily find these specifications through various resources and online sites. Failing to meet ADA regulations can result in substantial fines.

5. Meet Trade Show Deadlines

Adhere to the precise deadlines for moving in and moving out of the trade show. Each booth is assigned specific time slots for unloading shipments and packing up after the event ends. It’s essential to communicate these deadlines clearly to your shipping team to ensure they are met. Failure to do so may result in a loss of your position in the queue.

6. Acquire Exhibit Insurance

Ensure that your exhibit is insured and have the exhibitor insurance certificate readily available. This insurance covers your booth and its contents in case of any issues during the show. Show management will require proof of your insurance coverage before the event.

7. Request a “Variance” for Special Accommodations

If you need special accommodations for your booth that do not conform to the standard rules, request a “variance” to have your unique requirements considered. This may allow you to have exceptions, such as an extra-large banner or specialized music at your booth. You won’t know unless you ask!

8. Be Aware of Individual Trade Show Rules

Each exhibitor trade show may have specific rules, including restrictions on helium balloons, the use of duct tape, noise levels at booths, electrical cord usage, and power strip regulations. Some shows may require you to provide your booth’s carpeting, and there may be distinct rules regarding in-booth contests or prize drawings. It’s crucial to review the rental contracts and terms and conditions of each trade show to understand the rules you must follow. Neglecting to adhere to these rules could result in substantial fines or even a ban from future shows.

While this list doesn’t cover all exhibition rules and regulations, it provides exhibitors with a valuable insight into the types of regulations they can anticipate. It’s important to consult your trade show manager for a complete and detailed list of rules to adhere to. By familiarizing yourself with and diligently adhering to these rules, you increase the likelihood of a successful and trouble-free trade show experience.

How Local Exhibits Elevates Exhibitors Presence On The Show Floor

While understanding the rules is crucial, we go beyond the basics to transform your trade show experience:

Personalized Booth Design

Our team of experts understands that your booth is your stage. We’ll work closely with you to design a booth that not only complies with regulations but also reflects your brand identity. Stand out in style!

Hassle-Free Logistics

Trade show logistics can be daunting. Our goal at Local Exhibits is to the burden off your shoulders, handling everything from shipping and installation to dismantling. Focus on your presentation; we’ve got the rest covered.

Innovative Technology

Leave the regulatory headaches to us. We ensure that every aspect of your exhibit complies with the latest standards, sparing you from unexpected hitches.

Graphic Design Support

Elevate your visual presence with our professional graphic design team. We understand the power of compelling visuals in conveying your brand message. Our designers will create eye-catching graphics, signage, and promotional materials that seamlessly integrate with your booth design and marketing strategy, leaving a lasting impression on your audience.

Marketing Support

A stunning booth alone won’t cut it. We provide marketing strategies tailored to your industry and target audience, ensuring your presence doesn’t go unnoticed on the show floor.

At Local Exhibits, we are more than just an exhibit service provider; we are your partner in trade show success. Our mission is to elevate your presence on the show floor to new heights—without a hitch. Our expertise, creativity, and unwavering commitment to our work allows you to focus on what truly matters: wowing your audience and driving business growth.

We aim to set industry standards and push the boundaries of what’s possible. Through innovating engineering, we are able to optimize costs and pass the savings on – offering our partners unparalleled value. 

Ready to turn your next trade show into a triumph? Explore our services today, and let’s embark on this journey to success together.

Get In Touch With Local Exhibits Today – Let’s Collaborate & Create An Extraordinary Exhibit That Will Captivate Both You & Your Audience!