If you’re an entrepreneur in Colorado, you may not wish to use your business’s full legal name for all of your company’s activities. If so, a “doing business as” (DBA) name could be a helpful branding tool, allowing you to conduct your small business under a different title.
Company owners and entrepreneurs often look at doing business under a different name. Reasons vary, but all are aimed at supporting operations.
Choosing a “doing business as” (DBA) name, or “trade name” as it’s called in the state of Colorado, can align better with the entrepreneurial vision. A separate business name that matches this vision is sometimes seen as necessary to boost branding in line with product or service offerings.
Our guide takes you through the step-by-step process to realize your new business name ambitions. This article will cover what a DBA name is, why it could be important for your small business, how to get one in Colorado, the implications of having a DBA name, and name renewal when required by Colorado regulation.
Read on to learn the ins and outs of obtaining, maintaining, and renewing a trade name in Colorado, and how we can help make the process easy.
In Colorado, you can only file for a trade name online. The steps are:
Go to the Colorado Secretary of State. Look for “Trade Names” at the top of the page. Select the trade name type to reflect your business, which you will find under “Trade Name Registrations.” You can choose from five trade name registrations.
Select the right “Form Name” under “Trade Name Registrations,” depending on whether you are a sole proprietor, reporting entity, and so on.
Follow the prompts to select the trade name that suits your business needs.
Where a “Statement of Trade Name of a Dissolved or Delinquent Reporting Entity, a Non-Reporting Domestic Limited Partnership, or a Converted Entity” is required, you will need to do a search for your records online. Simply follow the prompts to determine state requirements.
To complete the form for a “Statement of Trade Name of an Individual,” “Trade Name of a Non-Reporting Entity,” and “ Statement of Trade Name of an Estate, a Trust, a State or an Other Jurisdiction,” choose the status for the DBA name, followed by “File Online.”
Form completion involves adding the true name of the owner, address, and email details, the selected trade name, and a business description.
If you want to reserve a trade name, this can be done for up to 90 days. Otherwise, you can select the option for the immediate filing of the name.
Additional information can be attached to this form if necessary.
Submit application and supporting documentation via the online portal.
Different terminology is used to describe DBA names, such as an “assumed name,” “fictitious name,” or a “trade name.” Colorado uses “trade name” as the official term to describe the use of a DBA name.
Businesses use DBA names for various reasons, including extensions of services or products. Picking a name for new business operations is also a valuable technique to help owners rebrand.
Colorado requires a formal filing of the DBA name for most business types because this informs the state and others that they are trading under a separate name.
Two main business categories that typically consider a DBA name are:
DBA name registrations and legalities differ state by state. In Colorado:
Businesses will frequently use DBA names because of the many benefits:
Choosing DBA names can be fun, but there are several elements to think about other than the creative aspect.
Names are also easier to remember if they are simple and associated with the brand personality. Shorter names or distinctive names that describe your business are more memorable than long and complex names, for example.
Duplication of DBA names is allowed in Colorado because the legal name of the owner can be used to distinguish identity and ownership. Sole proprietorships and other business structures can also use an unlimited number of DBA names (though having many could be difficult to manage).
Check to see whether the name you want is already in use by using the Colorado Name Availability Search tool.
It’s important to remember that you need to follow Colorado regulations so that your DBA name is acceptable. Unless the business is the appropriate legal structure, you cannot include a business entity designator, such as “LLC,” in the DBA name.
Ensure that the DBA name selected is also available as a domain name before registration of both, as consistency is vital for branding purposes. You can then utilize ZenBusiness’s Domain Name Registration services, which can help secure a domain name that aligns with your trade name.
Renewal is required annually in certain cases, such as for an individual or non-reporting entity, a process that Colorado makes available online. Other entities typically don’t have to renew their trade name unless they become delinquent or dissolved, after which they have one year to reinstate or fix the delinquency and renew the trade name before it expires.
Something else to think about is that DBA names are not transferable in Colorado. You can withdraw, change, or correct your DBA name, but it may not be transferred according to state regulation. So, if you want to sell your business, the new owner will have to select a trade name of their own to continue operations. However, trademarks can be transferred.
Name changes should also be considered if you want to modify your business brand for any reason. Changing a trade name is as simple as withdrawing the current name and selecting a new name. In this case, you will need to follow the steps in the previous section to apply for a different trade name.
The content on this page is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.
Colorado Business Resources
Fees are subject to change over time. Check the Secretary of State’s website for the most current fee schedule regarding DBA registration and renewal.
The Colorado Secretary of State’s website indicates that filing applications can be requested to be done immediately, or the effective date can be delayed for up to 90 days. If all the paperwork is in order, online filings are approved in real time.
You are not legally required to operate under a trade name in Colorado. However, if you do decide to use a DBA name for professional business reasons, it is necessary to file the name.
Specifically, the state needs to know that you are operating under a different name for official reasons. Likewise, the public is entitled to know that you are operating under a different business name, other than your “true name.”
The “true name” is your legal name, which appears on identity and tax documents. Similarly, the “true name” of registered companies will be reflected in officially registered documents in Colorado.
Most business owners choose to file a DBA name in Colorado for the reasons discussed. Mostly, these reasons relate to marketing and branding benefits and banking. Sole proprietors and partnerships typically like to present a professional front by filing a DBA name. Likewise, LLCs and other registered businesses elect to file for a DBA name when business names become too long because of their official extensions and other business-related purposes.
Colorado’s new search system helps to exclude name duplication. If LLCs and other entities wish to use the same name, these can be differentiated by adding or removing words from the title. Example: “Torrance LLC” can become “Torrance Construction LLC” or “Torrance Construction Company Colorado.”
One way to overcome the problem of DBA name replication is to trademark your DBA name. Trademarks take precedence over DBA names, which is probably the best way to protect intangible business assets. A federal trademark from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) can assist with this process, but a state trademark may be easier and less expensive to get.
Colorado business owners can use several DBA names to distinguish separate lines of business. There is no limit to the number of DBA names that you can choose in this state.
A dance studio owner may have named her business “Dance with Class” or “Class Dance Act,” but may want to branch out with a clothing line to support her dance classes. A new clothing brand name can align with her business intentions. A DBA name can be selected to reflect this strategy, for example, “Classic Dance Rags.”
Common terms that are used in connection with DBA names include “fictitious” and “assumed” names. Colorado uses “trade name” to refer to DBA names.
Sole proprietors may conduct business by using their legal birth names but typically prefer to register a DBA name. While this is not a state requirement, it is recommended as a good business practice. For reasons outlined earlier, branding and banking issues can be conveniently separated by filing a DBA name. Further, if you conduct business in an individual capacity, you are not allowed to trade under another name unless you file a DBA name.
Remember that the assets of the sole proprietorship or general partnership are not legally separated through the use of a DBA name. Only registration of a formal company structure, such as an LLC or corporation, can achieve this goal.
DBA names do not have any influence on tax obligations in Colorado or any other state. Neither tax requirements nor the original business structure is altered in any manner by the DBA name. A trade name is simply used to identify a business and keep it separate from the name of the sole proprietor, LLC, or another business structure.
If you need help forming, running, or growing your business, ZenBusiness has a variety of services to help. We can tame the red tape so that you can focus on the parts of your business you most enjoy.
Most Popular States to Get a DBA Name
When it comes to compliance, costs, and other factors, these are popular states for filing a DBA.