Success Tips to Exhibit in the USA

Tips to Exhibit in the USA

The Trade Show and Expo market in the USA represents a great opportunity to test the viability of selling your products or services in one of the top markets in the world. However, there are some important facts you must know to be successful. Skyline provides some basic tips you should keep in mind when exhibiting in USA Convention Centers.

Sales & Giveaways

  • Local and state sales tax is charged at the time of sale in most states. Average general sales tax can be close to 0% in some regions and well over 10% in others.
  • Most USA based business to business trade shows do not transact sales on the show floor. Check with the show you are attending to determine their rules.
  • Typically USA companies provide small giveaways at shows and expos to qualified prospects.

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  • Electricity Voltage: 120 Volts 60 Hz
  • Labor unions usually handle installation and dismantle. Union workers move freight in and out of the show hall – a process known as ‘drayage’ or material handling.
  • Costs of installation, dismantle and drayage, also known as I&D, can be quite high compared to other countries.
  • All graphics and marketing materials should be in English.
  • Shows in the USA typically last about 3 days.
  • Top Exhibiting cities in the USA include: Las Vegas, Chicago, New York, Orlando and Atlanta.


  • Exhibiting rules will vary from city to city and from show to show. Always check the “Show Book” for each show you will exhibit at to ensure you have the most accurate information.
  • The USA industry average for the rental of a structural display will come in around $75 per square foot. Rental is typically 1/3 of the cost of purchase.
  • Cities known for stringent exhibiting rules include: New York, Boston, Chicago and Las Vegas.
  • Most USA exhibit houses are well versed in major show venue regulations.   

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Shipping and Customs

  • Any display equipment shipped into the USA must pass through customs. Check specific requirements with U.S. customs or your customs broker.
  • It is wise to use a customs broker of the show in which you are exhibiting to avoid issues at customs.
  • Shipping and handling costs may be minimized by using fewer larger crates rather than more smaller ones.
  • Many USA based exhibit companies offer rental exhibits which can help you minimize shipping and material handling costs.


  • Payphone availability is limited. However, they do exist in large public buildings such as airports, government offices and large shopping malls.
  • Foreign mobile phones may not work unless they are set up for the USA
  • Cell phones may be purchased in many retail outlets including drug stores.
  • The long distance dialing access +1 - followed by the area code and number.
  • Most hotels, many restaurants and public buildings provide free Wi-Fi access.
  • Pre-event and post-event promotional emails are common.
  • Email lists can often be rented or purchased from the event organizer.

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Culture Tips

  • Americans tend to be vocal when approaching or welcoming attendees at a trade show.
  • Attire varies depending on the show. While suits are always acceptable, many shows have employees who wear more informal slacks and company shirts.
  • Smoking is not permitted inside most buildings (unless otherwise specified).
  • In-booth drinks include water, coffee and soft drinks; alcohol is usually not allowed or limited to sample quantities.
  • Popular trade show foods include chips, pretzels, nuts and candy.
  • Business hours are typically 8:00am to 5:00pm.


  • Before traveling to the USA, a citizen of a foreign country must generally obtain a non-immigrant visa for temporary stay.
  • The type of visa you will need is dependent on the purpose of your travel.
  • Planning and early visa application should be arranged well in advance of the show.
  • All travelers entering the USA must present either a machine-readable passport or a visa.
  • There is a cost to obtain a visa (check with your local consulate or embassy to determine the amount).

tradeshow travel passport visas exhibiting

* Travel regulations are subject to change, Skyline is providing information as a courtesy, this should not be used as a single source of travel information. Double check all travel advice for your personal circumstances with your local United States embassy, consulate or look for information online at 

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