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Selecting a registered agent is part of setting up a business in Colorado. A registered agent is the company’s point of contact who agrees to accept important documents on behalf of the company. 

You can be your own registered agent or you can select another person, company, or a registered agent service to fill the role. 

Many entrepreneurs have questions about the role of a registered agent and how a registered agent service works. To help, we’ve created this guide. We’ll answer all of your questions, but we’ll start at the beginning with how to form a company in Colorado.

How is an LLC formed in Colorado?

Filing the paperwork to form a Colorado LLC isn’t hard, but if you’re not familiar with the process, there are a few things you should know. You’ll likely hear terms and phrases that you haven’t heard before, but this guide will walk you through the process and explain the business lingo you need to know. 

To form an LLC in Colorado, you must file Articles of Organization. To do so, you’ll need to follow these steps:  

1. The name of the company

First and foremost, your company needs a name. Maybe you’ve had a name in mind for years or maybe you just came up with one on the spot, either way, the company name is the first thing you’ll enter on the Articles of Organization documents. 

Colorado, like other states, has rules about naming a company. Before you settle on a  name, you should know about these rules:

  • The company name must include the words “Limited Liability Company” or “LLC” in its title.
  • The name cannot be confused with any government entity. For that reason, keep any agency references like FBI or IRS out of your name.
  • Some names may require additional approval. For example, a title that includes words like bank or doctor, for example, will require more proof to substantiate the claim. 
  • The name must be unique.

For a name to be unique, no other Colorado business can have the same name. To make sure the name you want is available, run a search on the Colorado Database Search on the Colorado Secretary of State website.

2. The name of your registered agent

When you set up a small business in Colorado, you need to select a registered agent. A registered agent is a point of contact for the company. More specifically, this person will agree to accept legal documents for the company. 

A registered agent can be the company owner or it can be another person or company. 

If you elect someone other than yourself for this role, he or she must agree to the position. This person will receive important documents for the company, so the person should be trustworthy and able to communicate with you quickly when needed.

3. File the Articles of Organization

To establish a business, entrepreneurs must file Articles of Organization with the secretary of state. This paperwork is called LLC formation documents and it’s the only way to legally set up a company in the state.

This process is done completely online.

The Articles of Organization will ask you to provide the company name, the name of the registered agent, a list of services, and a signature from the LLC organizer. 

In addition to filing the paperwork online, there is a fee to file. The fee is $50. 

If you know the company name and who the registered agent will be, filling out the paperwork and submitting it to the state takes minutes. 

4. Create a company operating agreement

With the Articles of Organization filed, the next step is to create an operating agreement. For help with this document, you can Google an operating agreement template for guidance. 

An operating agreement isn’t required by the state, but most business experts say it’s vital to have. An operating agreement explains how the company will operate. It should provide clarity about the hierarchy within the company, the day-to-day operations, and how profits and losses are handled. 

Having this document completed before a company opens to the public is ideal, so there are no surprises along the way. 

Again, this document is recommended but not required to start an LLC. 

5. Obtain an EIN

Another item on your checklist should be to get an EIN or an employer identification number. An EIN is a nine-digit number given to your company by the IRS. You can go to the IRS website and obtain an EIN instantly by answering a few questions. 

This is an important step that shouldn’t be skipped. Every business owner needs an EIN to :

  • Hire and pay employees
  • Open business bank accounts
  • File and pay taxes

6. File a Periodic Report

Most states require companies to file an annual report of some kind. Colorado requires all companies to file what’s called a Periodic Report with the secretary of state. The report can be filed online. In addition to the report, owners must pay a $10 fee. The report is filed every year within three months of the anniversary date. For instance, if you set up your business on January 1, then your report is due between Jan 1 and March 1 every year. 

For help remembering to file the report and pay the fee, you can sign up for reminders on the Colorado secretary of state’s website.

What is a Colorado registered agent?

A registered agent agrees to receive legal paperwork on behalf of your company. Think of this person as a point of contact for the business. If something important like tax forms, court documents, or paperwork that’s served during a lawsuit needs to be delivered, the registered agent will receive it.  

Do I really need a registered agent in Colorado?

Yes. It’s required by the state to list a registered agent on the LLC formation paperwork. The state needs to be able to contact someone from your company, which is why it’s required. 

Can I be my own registered agent in Colorado?

Yes. Most of the time, the business owner or the LLC organizer serves as the company’s registered agent. While being your own registered agent is probably the easiest option, there are other choices. Another person or another Colorado company can be a registered agent too.  

Who can be a registered agent in Colorado? 

You can serve as your own registered agent or pick a friend, coworker, another business owner, or a registered agent service. A registered agent service is a company that will serve as your point of contact for the state. 

In Colorado, a registered agent can be a:

  • Full-time resident of Colorado; or
  • Colorado company that’s registered to do business in the state, which includes a registered agent service.

Why would a company choose to work with a registered agent service?

A registered agent service can serve as your official point of contact, for a fee. While many owners decide to be their own registered agent, some opt for a company to fill this role. There are several reasons an owner might decide to use a registered agent service, which includes: 

  • ConvenienceA registered agent should be available during regular business hours to receive documents as needed. For some owners, staying in one location isn’t easy. Some owners travel for work, for example, and can’t usually be found working in an office every day. Convenience is a factor.
  • Peace of mindWith a registered agent service in charge, owners have peace of mind that nothing is missed. If the service receives documents, they will get in touch with the owner ASAP. Usually, the registered agent services provide mail forwarding services or same-day mail scans with an electronic notice to make sure the owner is aware of the paperwork received. 
  • PrivacyIn the event your company is sued, the paperwork would go to an off-site registered agent. It helps keep these matters quiet. 

List of Colorado registered agent services 

For those looking for a registered agent service, a quick Google search will provide a list of choices. In addition, LLC organizers can reach out to the secretary of state’s office, which usually has a list of options on file. 

To provide a starting point, here are several registered agent services in Colorado:

  • Northwest Registered Agent: Northwest is one of the most recognized names in the registered agent business. The company has decades of experience and local offices scattered across the U.S. to serve small businesses like yours. The cost for a registered agent service is comparable to others. Business owners can also take advantage of additional services like report filing.
  • ZenBusiness: ZenBusiness is fairly new to the market, but they’ve grown a strong following. Business owners love the affordable rates for a registered agent service, which are as low as $99 per year. The company offers worry-free compliance too, to help business owners file the necessary reports on time.
  • Incfile: Incfile is another trusted name for business services, including its registered agent services. Business owners can get a registered agent free for a year. That’s right, free. After the first year, the price kicks in at $119. An online dashboard, automatic mail forwarding, and tailored notifications also come with the service.

How much does a registered agent service cost in Colorado?

Basic services, which could include mail forwarding, is usually $50 a year or less. For more advanced services with mail forwarding, online accounts, and reminders regarding annual reports, prices hover around $100-250 annually. Each business needs to weigh the pros and cons of this cost.

How does an owner select a registered agent in Colorado?

A registered agent is listed on the LLC formation documents known as the Articles of Organization. The registered agent can be a person or a company of your choosing but should be aware of their role and willing to accept documents on the company’s behalf. 

Can a company change its registered agent?

Yes. To do so, file a Statement of Change Changing the Registered Agent Information. The form can be found and filed on the secretary of state website. There is a $10 fee to file this form. 

What’s a statutory agent?

A registered agent has several different names, depending on the state. Colorado uses the term registered agent, but other states like Arizona, for example, use the term statutory agent. The name service of the process agent is also used. 

What’s a commercial registered agent?

When filling out the LLC formation paperwork, you might be asked if the appointed registered agent is commercial or non-commercial. The definition of a commercial registered agent is a registered agent service, a non-commercial agent is a person or company that you’ve appointed to do the job but isn’t paid to do so.