How to File a DBA in Colorado

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What is a DBA (doing business as)?

The acronym for DBA stands for ‘doing business as.’ It is any registered name that a company or individual uses to do business that isn’t its legal name. 

The legal name of a company differs depending on its structure. It’s the company name for a limited liability company (LLC). And, for sole proprietors, the legal name of their business is their personal legal name.

DBAs are also referred to as fictitious names, trade names, or assumed names. In Colorado, a DBA is most commonly referred to as a trade name. 

A DBA only changes the name of a business, and nothing else.

For instance, if you own a business, its legal name is your own name (e.g., Frank Williams). Frank Williams is looking to start an industrial cleaning business. He understands that he can’t just use his personal name because people won’t understand the services he is offering. So, Frank Williams registers the DBA trade name Frank’s Fire Cleanup, and it becomes the name of his new business. It changes nothing else about the business structure or legal entity of Frank’s Fire Cleanup.

Frank Williams is able to operate under a new name, and it no longer defaults to his legal name.

DBA vs business trade name

  • In Colorado, a DBA often is most often referred to as a trade name. 
  • As a sole proprietor, you must register a DBA in Colorada if you wish to operate a business under a name other than your legal name. 
  • Companies in any industry can register a DBA. It includes sole-proprietorships, LLCs, corporations, franchises, and non-profits.
  • A DBA is a business alias. This means that a DBA and a business trade name are the same things.

Who needs a DBA?

Colorado law mandates that all sole proprietors, LLCs, partnerships, and corporations file a DBA if they wish to operate under any trade name that isn’t their legal name.

However, certain non-profits that file Articles of Incorporation in Colorado may not be required to register a trade name.

DBAS benefits all types of business in a variety of ways. It is also dependent on a business entity and the personal preference of a business owner.

  • New businesses. Colorado requires a new business to register a DBA if they want to operate under a different name that isn’t the legal name. 
  • Sole proprietors. Sole proprietors share a legal name with their business unless they file a DBA. It is because sole proprietors share the same entity with their company.
  • LLCS. Without a Colorado DBA, an LLC would have to form a new company every time they purchased and operated a business using a different trade name. 
  • Corporations. Corporations that intend to operate a business using a name that is not their company must file a DBA. Commonly, corporations use DBAs when they open and operate businesses in different industries.
  • Franchises. Franchises also use DBAs to operate under a name that isn’t the company name. For instance, if you buy into a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise, it is formed as an LLC and listed as 888 Kentucky Fried Chicken LLC. In order to shorten the name to simply Kentucky Fried Chicken, you must file a DBA in Colorado. 

Small business owners and startups benefit the most from filing a DBA. It is because it gives an individual the creative freedom to name their business. And, it helps eliminate the need for a small business to form an expensive and complicated LLC to merely change the name.

Why do you need a DBA?

  • DBAs help to avoid the complicated and expensive process of forming a separate LLC. A DBA is a cost-effective and straightforward way for a sole proprietorship to operate using a different business trade name. 
  • DBAs benefit corporations and LLCs. DBAs allow LLCs the freedom to operate various businesses without having to form a separate LLC for every company they wish to run. For example, if Johnathan’s Soda LLC opens a soda bar called Fresh Spring. To operate the soda bar under a business trade name, the LLC must register a DBA name in Colorado.
  • DBAs protect the privacy of the business owner. A sole proprietor in any line of business must put their own name on public-facing material unless they register a DBA name.
  • A DBA separates your personal assets from your business assets. DBAs do not offer any legal protections or liability protection on their own. A DBA does prove that your business assets and personal assets are independent of one another and decrease personal liability.
  • A DBA makes business banking easier. Banking institutions require you to register a DBA in order to open a  separate business bank account. Also, it is a best business practice to open a separate business bank account from your own to protect your assets and credit scores.
  • A DBA makes branding easier in Colorado. Initially, you catch the attention of potential clients with the name of your business. For example, without a DBA, Frank’s Fire Cleanup would be his name, Frank Williams. In Colorado, a business owner must register a DBA before legally using a business trade name or claiming a brand name.

How to set up a DBA in Colorado

Step 1 – Colorado trade name search

Colorado requires that all trade names be unique and meet the state requirements.

In order to check DBA name availability, visit the Colorado Name Availability Search website and do a name check.

Step 2 – File your Colorado DBA 

You must register your DBA with the Colorado Secretary of State. It can be filed online on the Secretary of State’s website

When your file for a DBA in Colorado, the application will ask for specific information such as:

  • The trade name you wish to use.
  • A full description of your business.
  • The effective date of your requested trade name.

A DBA in Colorado expires after one year for sole proprietors and general partnerships. The state requires that you renew your DBA online before it expires.

Corporations and LLCs in good standing do not have to renew DBA names on a state level.

Step 3 – Pay Colorado DBA filing fees

When you file the online Colorado Trade Name registration, you must also submit the $20 filing fee. 

You can pay the DBA cost online using a credit card or debit card. Cash payment is not accepted.

If you have any questions, contact:

  • Colorado Secretary of State’s office(303) 894-2200 
  • Toll-free: (855) 428-3555 

Colorado DBA name restrictions

  • Any words or terms that violate Colorado law, including obscenities and references to illegal or unethical activity.
  • Words that confuse your business with a governmental agency such as FBI, Department of Treasury, and Department of Justice.

Forms needed to file a DBA in Colorado

Colorado DBA tax considerations

In Colorado, a DBA only changes your business name. It does not affect the status of a business entity.

Also, the IRS does not require a separate employer identification number or tax ID for a DBA.

How much does a DBA filing cost in Colorado?

The DBA cost in Colorado is $20. Sole proprietors and general partnerships must renew the registration every 12 months. The DBA renewal fee is $5 and must be renewed before it expires.

If a DBA expires before renewal, you will have to file a new registration form at the original $20 DBA cost.

Corporations and LLCs in good standing do not have to renew DBA registration.

If you need to make changes or update a DBA name registration in Colorado, you will need to make corrections online and submit a $10 fee.

You can withdraw your business trade name online. It costs $10.

Professional DBA filing services

  • ZenBusiness: ZenBusiness is an affordable solution for entrepreneurs, such as affordable LLC formations, and incorporations. ZenBusiness does offer a stand-alone registered agent service for $99 a year.
  • Swyft Filings: Swyft Filings is a quality DBA service. They assign a registered agent to every client, making them a customer favorite. Swyft Filings offers a DBA obtainment package that costs $99 plus state fees.
  • LegalZoom: LegalZoom does it all. The purpose of its design is to be a “one-stop-shop” for small businesses and their legal needs.
  • MyCompanyWorks: MyCompanyWorks doesn’t have the experience that other professional DBA obtainment services have. However, they’ve served thousands of businesses successfully. MyCompanyWorks offers one DBA filing package for $99 plus state fees. You can add a couple of extras for additional fees.
  • CorpNet: Corpnet’s biggest draw is that they have the best customers. It is hard to find a bad review about their DBA obtainment services.
  • MyCorporation: MyCorporation has served over a million businesses over the last 20+ years. Their customer reviews reflect their longevity and success. The cost of MyCorportation DBA services is $99 plus State Fees. The expedited rush service is an additional $100.
  • BizFilings: BizFilings offers entrepreneurs and small businesses services, such as LLC filing and incorporation services.  The starting price of $99 plus state fees for BizFilings DBA obtainment services is pretty standard. However, it doesn’t include a namecheck in states that require them. Alabama does.

FAQs

DBA documents are submitted online and filed in real-time. 

Once you receive payment confirmation, the documents are immediately processed.

You are allowed to register as many DBAs as you want in Colorado. You must follow the same process with everyone, and has to be approved by the Colorado Secretary of State.

The business trade name you decide to operate under is the most essential branding tool available, and it doesn’t cost much either.

Choose a unique and distinctive name that represents you, your company, and alerts customers of what you do at a glance.

It is always a good idea to check to see if a domain (URL) is available using your desired trade name to make branding and marketing seamless.

You are allowed to withdraw your Colorado trade name online for a $10 fee.

In Colorado, a for-profit company that wishes to use a business trade name that is not their legal name must file a DBA.

However, certain non-profits that file Articles of Incorporation in Colorado may not be required to register a business trade name.

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