How to Register a Trade Name in Colorado

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Quick Reference

A business operating under a business name will need to register for a Fictitious Trade Name in Colorado.  Learn more about the Fictitious Trade Name, who needs one, the cost to file, and how to register.

What is a Fictitious Trade Name?

A Fictitious Trade Name, commonly known as a DBA (Doing Business As), Assumed Name, or Fictitious Name, is a name used by a business operating in the state that is different from the legal name of the company.   This name is often referred to as a Trade Name in Colorado.

When a business wants to operate under a name other than its legal name, the state of Colorado, like most states, requires the business to register its business name.  The registration requirement was designed to protect consumers from business owners hiding anonymously behind a business’s name.

What is a Fictitious Trade Name good for?

A DBA is required for many businesses to legally operate and provides information on the people operating a business.  In addition to the legal requirement, a DBA offers other benefits such as proving the existence of a business, opening a bank account under a business name, registering a merchant account to accept credit cards, and others.

Related: How to start a business in Colorado

Who needs to register for a Fictitious Trade Name in Colorado?

The requirements and need to register for a Trade Name vary, depending on the type of business entity.  Any company conducting business under a fictitious name must register within 60 days of starting their business.  

Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are the most common entities to register for a DBA.  The legal name of a sole proprietor or partnership can be the individual’s full first and last name, which doesn’t get registered.  Using the owner’s name as the business name works for many self-employed business owners, however many entrepreneurs want to operate under a distinct and brandable business name.

Before opening a bank account, advertising, or signing contracts with the business name, be sure to first obtain a Statement of Trade Name.

Additionally, if the DBA is going to hold real estate, an affidavit will need to be obtained from the Secretary of State.  This affidavit will be filed with the County Clerk in the county where the business is located.

Corporations and Limited Liability Companies won’t typically register a fictitious name since a unique entity name is created during the formation process.  Some will file for a DBA if they have another business they want to operate under their corporate/LLC umbrella to keep the liability protection without having to form another entity.

Related: Difference between a sole proprietorship and Limited Liability Company (LLC)

How much does it cost to register a Fictitious Trade Name in Colorado?

The cost to register a Trade Name in Colorado is $20. 

Trade names must be renewed every 12 months for sole proprietorships and partnerships.  As long as the Corporation or LLC is in good standing, they do not have to renew.

 

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What are the steps to file a Fictitious Name in Colorado?

Step 1 Fill out the Form

The form is filed online with the Colorado Secretary of State.

Information requested on the form includes:

  • Type of business entity.  The most common ones for our purposes include:
    • Individual (sole proprietorship)
    • Non-Reporting Entity (general partnership)
    • Reporting Entity (Corporation, LLC)
    • Domestic Limited Partnership
  • Name of the person requesting the name (often the owner)
  • Physical and mailing business address
  • Trade name being requested
  • Description of what the business does
  • Option to delay the effective date (used when the business won’t start for up to 90 days but the name can be registered).
  • Email address
  • Address of the person submitting the registration.

Step 2 – Review and file

Review that the information is correct and click “Pay Now” to pay the filing fee.

Are there any words you can’t use in a Fictitious Name?

There are a few restrictions when registering a Trade Name.

  • Entity designators such as Corp, Corporation, LLC, Limited Liability Company, etc., can’t be used unless the entity is registered as that type of entity with the Secretary of State.
  • The words Bank, Trust, Credit Union, etc., can’t be used unless the business is registered to provide banking services.

Can someone steal my business name?

While registering your Trade Name will keep someone else from registering the same name in Colorado, it does very little from someone else operating a business under that name in other states. If stopping others from using your business name is important, you can protect it through a trademark.

Learn more about trademarking a business name.

Related: What is the difference between a trademark, copyright, and patent?

Does a Fictitious Name need an EIN?

An EIN or Employer Identification Number is a unique nine-digit number that some businesses will register for through the Internal Revenue Department (IRS). An EIN is required for partnerships, corporations, multi-member LLCs, or any company that has employees.

Sole proprietorships and single-member LLCs without employees can use the owner’s social security number to identify the business.

There is no cost to get an EIN when registering directly from the IRS.

Related: How to register for an EIN in Colorado

Questions?

If you have questions about the registration process, you can Contact Us or the Colorado Secretary of State – Department of State

Walk in:
Hours 8 am – 5 pm
1700 Broadway, Suite 200
Denver, CO 80290

Phone: 855-428-3555

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