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In Colorado, a business operating under a fictitious name will need to register for a Fictitious Trade Name. Learn more about what a Trade Name is, who needs one, the cost to file and how to register.
What is a Fictitious Trade Name?
A 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 business. This name is often referred to as a Trade Name in Colorado.
When a business wants to operate under a name other than their legal name, the state of Colorado, like most states, require the business to register their business name. The registration requirement was designed to protect consumers from business owners hiding anonymously behind the name of a business.
Who needs to register?
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.
How much does it cost to register?
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.
What are the steps to file a DBA 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
- 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.
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.
Protecting your business name
Registering a Trade Name provides no protection from someone else from registering the same name in Colorado. Multiple businesses can register the same name.
If stopping anyone from using your business name is important, you can protect it through a trademark – See more about trademarking a business name.
If you have questions about the registration process, you can Contact Us or the Colorado Secretary of State – Department of State
Hours 8 am – 5pm
1700 Broadway, Suite 200
Denver, CO 80290