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As your small business in Colorado grows and introduces more products and services, you might realize that your initial business name isn’t cutting it anymore. Fortunately, you don’t have to change your legal business name. You can create a Colorado DBA or fictitious business name. This article explains what a DBA is and describes the filing process step-by-step.
A DBA is a different name for your business without having to create a separate entity with a new tax ID, rights, and requirements.
Multiple companies in Colorado can have the same DBA, but a DBA must not match another business’s name or a trademarked name.
You file all the Colorado DBA paperwork with the Colorado Secretary of State instead of the county clerk’s office.
Before you jump into the filing process, you must know what a Colorado DBA is. A DBA stands for “doing business as,” but you’ll also find it referred to as a trade name, a fictitious name, and an assumed name. These terms all refer to a name different from the one business owners filed with the Colorado Secretary of State.
Businesses use it to market their products and services better, describe their brand more closely, and increase customer engagement.
Recognizing that a DBA isn’t a business structure or a separate business entity like limited liability companies, corporations, general partnerships, nonprofits, and sole proprietorships is crucial.
However, all entrepreneurs and entity types can form a DBA. For example, LLC owners don’t have to file for a new company whenever they want to do business under a new name. They don’t even have to change the name to fit their current business better. They can create as many DBAs as their business needs.
After you’ve got a clearer picture of a DBA, you can move on to the Colorado trade name filing process. A DBA filing process involves:
Conducting a thorough business name search.
Submitting some DBA paperwork.
Ensuring your fictitious business name stays active.
The following sections explain each step in detail.
Before completing a DBA registration in the state of Colorado, you have to ensure that the name is distinguishable and distinctive. It ensures uniqueness and avoids legal disputes you might have with other businesses using the same name.
Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about such things regarding your Colorado DBA. If another business entity has the same DBA as your company, both can function with no issues. However, your DBA can’t be identical to another business name or trademark.
You can check business name availability through our free business name search tool. You can also use the Colorado Secretary of State’s official business name search tool. For trademarks, the Secretary of State also offers a trademark search tool to search for trademarks at the state level. If you want to search for trademarks nationwide, turn to the U.S. trademark database.
While DBAs can’t overlap with trademark names, DBAs don’t enjoy the same protective rights as trademarks. A DBA can still be used by another entity, especially in Colorado, where having the same DBA isn’t restricted. On the other hand, trademarks are exclusive to the company that created it or carries its copyright.
Each state typically requires businesses to file a form with the corresponding government institution. In the case of Colorado, business owners should register their Statement of Trade Name online with the Colorado Secretary of State. You can only file Colorado trade name registration forms electronically, and you need to file different forms depending on the type of business:
Statement of Trade Name of a Dissolved or Delinquent Reporting Entity, a Non-Reporting Domestic Limited Partnership, or a Converted Entity
Statement of Trade Name of an Individual
Statement of Trade Name of a Non-Reporting Entity
Statement of Trade Name of an Estate, a Trust, a State or an Other Jurisdiction
Statement of Trade Name of a Reporting Entity
The statements typically require stating your ID number, actual name, form of entity, jurisdiction, principal address of your business, mailing address, the trade name, a brief description of your business, and the effective date of your requested trade name.
In addition to the form, you must pay a $20 filing fee online with your debit or credit card.
Most states require businesses to file other necessary DBA paperwork with the clerk’s office in the county or counties where they run their business. Companies in Colorado file all paperwork and pay the filing fee to the Secretary of State.
You typically need to prepare your Articles of Organization or Incorporation, tax ID, information about your registered agent, and similar information. If all this seems complicated, you can ask for help from a reliable document filing service.
After settling on a DBA name and filing it with the Secretary of State, you must keep it active. In Colorado, sole proprietors and general partnerships must renew their DBAs after one year for $5.
LLCs and corporations in good standing don’t need to renew their DBAs. After the initial filing, they can use it for as long as they run the business under that name. However, they can withdraw their DBA by submitting a Statement of Trade Name Withdrawal.
Although Colorado law doesn’t have restrictions stating that your assumed name has to be different from other Colorado DBAs, there are still some restrictions. Since a DBA isn’t a business structure, it shouldn’t contain “L.L.C,” “Corp,” and other business identifiers.
Your DBA name shouldn’t contain obscene language or words insinuating illegal activity. You also shouldn’t use words like “FBI,” “Department of Justice,” “Department of Treasury,” and other words that might confuse your customers and land you in legal trouble.
Additionally, remember that your DBA doesn’t possess the protective rights of a trademark. Other business entities can still claim your DBA name, which isn’t exclusive to your Colorado business.
Your tax status stays the same as a DBA isn’t a separate business entity with a different tax ID. A DBA doesn’t alter your tax obligations and rights. You still pay your dues according to your business entity. In addition, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) doesn’t require a separate Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your DBA.
Also, remember that a DBA doesn’t offer personal asset and liability protection like an LLC. A DBA’s assets are the same as the assets of the business owner running the business under the DBA.
A DBA isn’t necessary in Colorado unless you want to run your business under a name different from your legal name. Still, there are plenty of reasons why you should consider getting one.
Privacy reasons. A DBA benefits sole proprietorships and partnerships because it allows them to hide the business owners’ full names, which are used as their business names.
Business bank account benefits. Some banks in Colorado and elsewhere might require businesses to have a DBA before they open a business bank account. In addition, a DBA might make your business seem more reliable and open doors to more loans and grants.
Marketing reasons. LLCs and corporations that grew drastically after their original business name registration might need to change their name or file for another business. A DBA prevents unnecessary costs of opening another business or altering the business name.
Better branding. Sole proprietors and general partnerships with their owners’ names as the business name might not gather many customers since they won’t know what the business is about at first glance. A DBA that describes your brand more closely gives a better picture of what your business is about.
Trade name registration in Colorado can be complicated and overwhelming for a new business owner. You don’t have to be alone on this journey. With a reputable and reliable document filing service, you can quickly compile all your DBA paperwork and submit it to the Secretary of State within minutes.
In just five steps, including choosing a state you’re operating in and providing some contact and business information, you’ll get a customized DBA package that conforms with Colorado state law. We’ll submit the documentation on your behalf, and you’ll have your DBA in the blink of an eye.
An LLC is a business entity that has its own structure, tax obligations, and rights. On the other hand, a DBA is simply a new business name that business owners use to operate under that’s different from the one registered with the state.
The cost of getting a DBA differs in every state and county. In Colorado, all business entities pay $20 to file for a DBA.
As per Colorado law, all corporations, LLCs, partnerships, and sole proprietors must file for a DBA if they wish to operate under a name different from the one registered with the Colorado Secretary of State. However, nonprofits with their Articles of Organization might not be required to file a DBA.
A DBA, a trade name, and an assumed name all refer to the same thing: a name business owners use to run their business under that differs from the one initially filed with the Colorado Secretary of State. Another term that describes the same is a fictitious business name.
The duration of a DBA depends on the state you file for it. In Colorado, LLCs and corporations don’t need to file a renewal form. Sole proprietorships and general partnerships must renew their DBAs annually for $5.
You can create as many DBAs as you want. Make sure you can keep track of them.
A DBA and a trademark differ primarily in their protective rights. While a trademark can be used only by the business that created it, a DBA can be used by any Colorado business.
A DBA isn’t a separate business structure, so it doesn’t affect your tax status. You also don’t need a new tax ID from the IRS.
Chamber of Commerce. “How to File a DBA in Colorado.“ Accessed August 24, 2023.
Colorado Secretary of State. “Business FAQs.” Accessed August 24, 2023.
Colorado Secretary of State. “Fee Schedule.” Accessed August 24, 2023.
Colorado Secretary of State. “Statement of Trade Name Withdrawal.“ Accessed August 24, 2023.
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