What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Colorado?

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Starting a business in Colorado will mean potentially registering with a number of federal, state and local agencies.  Let’s take a look at common licenses and permits a business will register for in Colorado.

Business License – There is no general state of Colorado business license, however many cities require businesses to be licensed in order to operate. Rules for business registration vary depending on location and what the business does.  Below are a few cities that have licensing requirements. 

Denver – The City of Denver requires several types of businesses operating in City limits to register such as auto parts recyclers, caters, ice cream vendors and many more.  Denver business licenses can be obtained through the Denver Business Licensing Center.

Colorado Springs Businesses such as concrete contractors, excavators, pawn brokers, tree services and others need to obtain a business license from the City Clerk’s office.

Aurora – The City of Aurora requires any business operating within City limits to obtain a business license.  The cost of the Business License Application is $15 and an initial license fee of $26.

Fort Collins – Any business operating within City limits need to obtain a City Sales and Use Tax License.  There is no cost for the Sales and Use Tax License. Additionally, bowling alleys, contractors, establishments serving liquor, pawn brokers and more will need additional licensing.

Lakewood – The City of Lakewood requires all businesses operating in City limits to register for a Sales and Use Tax License.  The cost of a Sales and Use Tax License is $15.

Employer Identification Number (EIN) – Many businesses will register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an EIN or Employer Identification Number.  The EIN is the business equivalent for a Social Security Number for an individual.  Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships and Sole Proprietorships with employees will all need to register for one. Sole Proprietorships without employees can use the owner’s Social Security Number. 

There is no cost for an EIN and it only takes a few minutes to get.

Learn how to apply for an EIN.

Colorado Sales Tax License – Most businesses in Colorado selling a product and some services will need to register for a Colorado sales tax license (sometimes referred to as reseller’s license, a vendor’s license or a resale certificate) with the Colorado Department of Revenue.

Sales Tax Exemption Certificate – Businesses purchasing merchandise to resell will usually want to obtain a Colorado Sales Tax Exemption Certificate in order to not pay sales tax for merchandise that is being resold to customers.

Professional License – A variety of professions in the state are regulated and need to be registered before offering certain services.  A few common professions that require licensing in Colorado include; cosmetologists, massage therapists, plumbers and many more.   Additional information, fees and licensing requirements for professions are available from the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies.

In addition to professional licensing, there are a few other types of businesses that need licensing that are not covered by the Department of Regulatory Agencies, a few of which include:
Car Dealer & Remitter Licensing
Liquor Licenses
Food Handling

Trade Name Registration – While not a business license, Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships operating under a name that is different from the full name of the owner(s) must file the Statement of Trade Name (also known as a Doing Business As or DBA) with the Colorado Secretary of State.  

These are a few of the most common business licenses, but there are far too many business licenses and permits in Colorado for us to keep track of. Before starting your business, check with the City Hall, County Clerk, Chamber of Commerce and/or Economic Developer in your area to get more information regarding business licensing.  Additionally, there are companies like IncFile or CorpNet that can do the research to ensure you have the proper federal, state and local licenses.