If you run a business under an assumed name in Colorado, you may want to set up a DBA. Short for “Doing Business As,” a DBA serves as an alternate title for your business. Often, a DBA is the name customers will use to refer to your company. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about DBAs: who needs one, who doesn’t, and two easy steps to filing with the state.
In Colorado, the DBA is actually called a “Trade Name.” Essentially, they’re the same concept. “Trade Name” is just the terminology used by the state. For consistency, we’ll call it a Trade Name throughout the rest of this guide.
NOTE: Keep in mind that filing a trade name will not give your business protection through the corporate veil like an LLC will. If this is something you want or need, don’t fret, there are many good LLC services that can help you take care of the paperwork.
Do You Need a Colorado Trade Name?
Not all business entities in Colorado need a Trade Name. Ordinarily, a business needs a Trade Name when the name of their business differs from the name registered with the state.
So let’s say that Lauren operates a sole proprietorship; her legal business formation documents list her full name as the legal owner of the business. But if she wants to run her shop under the name Sew Sweet Creations, she’d need to file a Trade Name in order to use that name. A Trade Name is also useful for corporations which want to establish additional businesses or locations with a name that’s different from the Corporation name.
Limited liability companies, nonprofit corporations, and corporations operating exclusively under the name on file with the state usually do not need a Trade Name. They may choose to use one if they want to establish a new product line or chain of businesses under their original parent company. Nonprofits are not able to file for a Trade Name.
A Colorado Trade Name does present a few advantages. While it doesn’t offer any specific legal protections or tax incentives, a Trade Name allows you to get a business bank account. You can also give your customers peace of mind—most people are more comfortable writing a check to a business than an individual.
Colorado does not offer protections for Trade Names, so multiple entities can operate under the same name. Your registration, while required, is not the same as a name reservation.
1) File Your Trade Name with the Colorado Secretary of State
Trade Name filings for sole proprietorships and general partnerships used to be filed with the Department of Revenue. Now, to streamline filings, all Trade Names are processed by the Colorado Secretary of State.
Before you reserve your Trade Name, it’s a good idea to run a Business Name Search. This search will help you know if someone has already filed that name. You’ll want to check that your Trade Name is not used by an incorporated entity that has reserved it.
Next, you’ll need to file a Statement of Trade Name. (Please note that you can file online only). Colorado requires that you make this statement within 30 to 60 days of first using the Trade Name for the first time.
There is a $20 filing fee for this application. Since Colorado uses electronic filing exclusively, you’ll need to pay by credit card.
2) Maintaining your Colorado Trade Name
Your initial name registration is effective for approximately one year. After that, you’ll need to file a renewal. You are expected to file this renewal by the first day of the month of the anniversary of your first registration. If not, you’ll receive an “Expired” status.
The renewal fee is just $5. You can file as early as three months ahead of your expiration. If you’re worried that you’ll forget when your expiration date is, you can subscribe for an email reminder. The Colorado Secretary of State will send you an email when your renewal first becomes accessible.
Need Help Filing your Trade Name?
If this process sounds like a hassle, you can get help with setting up your business’s name with a service like Legalzoom. They make the process simple: you simply provide them with the necessary information about your company, and they’ll fill out the paperwork so you don’t have to. The process is both easy and affordable, letting you focus on running your business.
Your name is an important part of your business, but keeping compliant with state requirements can be tricky! We hope this guide made it quick and easy to set up your Colorado trade name.