How To Form An LLC in Colorado
You will need to file the Colorado Articles of Organization to set up an LLC (limited liability company) in Colorado. The Articles of Organization is the document that officially creates your Colorado LLC.
The Articles of Organization can be filed online with the secretary of state for a fee of $50. Follow our step-by-step How to Start an LLC in Colorado guide below to get started today.
STEP 1: Name your Colorado LLC
Choosing a company name is the first and most important step in forming your Colorado LLC. Be sure to choose a name that complies with Colorado naming laws and requirements and is easily searchable by potential business clients.
1. Follow the naming guidelines for a Colorado LLC:
- Your name must include the phrase “limited liability company” or one of the following abbreviations or words: “LLC, L.L.C., ltd., limited liability co., ltd. liability company, ltd. liability co., or limited.”
- Your name cannot include words that could confuse your LLC with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
- Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional legal paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your LLC.
2. Is the name available in Colorado? Make sure the business name you want isn't already taken by doing a name search online through the Colorado Secretary of State Business Database Search.
3. Is the URL available? We recommend that you check to see if your business name is available as a web domain. Even if you don't plan to create a business website today, you may want to buy the URL in order to prevent others from acquiring it.
After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free
FAQ: Naming an LLC
What is an LLC?
LLC is short for Limited Liability Company. It is a simple business structure that offers more flexibility than a traditional corporation while providing many of the same benefits. An LLC is one of several business structures, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation (C corp and S corp). For more information, read our What is an LLC guide.
Watch our video: What is an LLC?
Do I need to get a DBA or Trade Name for my business?
Most LLCs do not need a DBA. The name of the LLC can serve as your company’s brand name and you can accept checks and other payments under that name as well. However, you may wish to register a DBA if you would like to conduct business under another name.
To learn more about DBAs in your state, read our How to File a DBA guide.
STEP 2: Choose a Registered Agent in Colorado
You are required to appoint a Registered Agent for your Colorado LLC.
What is a Registered Agent? A registered agent is an individual or business entity responsible for receiving important tax forms, legal documents, notice of lawsuits, and official government correspondence on behalf of your business. Think of your registered agent as your business's point of contact with the state.
Who can be a Registered Agent? A registered agent must be a full-time resident of Colorado or a corporation, such as a registered agent service, authorized to conduct business in the state of Colorado. You may elect an individual within the company including yourself.
Recommended: ZenBusiness includes Registered Agent Service with their LLC formation package ($39 for the 1st year + State Fees).
FAQ: Nominating a Registered Agent
Can I be my own Registered Agent?
Yes. You or anyone else in your company can serve as the registered agent for your LLC.
Read more about being your own registered agent.
Is a Registered Agent service worth it?
Using a professional registered agent service is an affordable way to manage government filings for your Colorado LLC. For most businesses, the advantages of using a professional service significantly outweigh the annual costs.
For more information, read our article on Colorado registered agents.
STEP 3: File Your Colorado LLC Articles of Organization
To register your Colorado LLC, you will need to file the Articles of Organization with the Colorado Secretary of State. You can only apply online. Some states refer to the Articles of Organization as the Certificate of Formation or Certificate of Organization.
The Articles of Organization for an LLC (limited liability company) in Colorado is a legal document to officially form your business. You’ll be expected to include the name of your LLC, choose a registered agent, list the services your business will offer, and pay the Colorado LLC fees. After you file the Articles of Organization, we recommend you obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) if you plan to hire employees and open a business bank account.
When filing your Articles of Organization, you will need to state whether your Colorado LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed. Before you file, read our member-managed vs manager-managed guide to help you choose the best management structure for your LLC.
If you’re expanding your existing LLC to the State of Colorado, you will need to form a Foreign LLC.
FAQ: Filing LLC Documents
What is the processing time to form my LLC in Colorado?
Instant once payment has been received online.
What’s the difference between a domestic Colorado LLC and foreign LLC?
An LLC is referred to as a "domestic LLC" when it conducts business in the state where it was formed. Normally when we refer to an LLC we are actually referring to a domestic LLC. A foreign LLC must be formed when an existing LLC wishes to expand its business to another state.
Read our What Is a Foreign LLC article to learn more.
STEP 4: Create Your Colorado LLC Operating Agreement
An operating agreement is not required for an LLC in Colorado, but it's a good practice to have one.
What is an operating agreement? An operating agreement is a legal document outlining the ownership and operating procedures of an LLC.
Why are operating agreements important? A comprehensive operating agreement ensures that all business owners are on the same page and reduces the risk of future conflict.
For more information on operating agreements, read our Colorado LLC operating agreement guide.
Recommended: Download a template or create a Free Operating Agreement using our tool.
FAQ: Creating a Colorado LLC Operating Agreement
Do I need to file my operating agreement with the state?
No. The operating agreement is an internal document that you should keep on file for future reference. However, many states do legally require LLCs to have an operating agreement in place.
STEP 5: Get an EIN for Your Colorado LLC
What is an EIN? EIN stands for Employer Identification Number. EINs are a nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to help identify businesses for tax purposes. It is essentially a Social Security number for a business.
An EIN is sometimes referred to as a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or Federal Tax Identification Number (FTIN).
Why do I need an EIN? An EIN is required to:
- Open a business bank account
- File and manage Federal and State Taxes
- Hire employees
What if I already have an EIN for my sole proprietorship? The IRS requires that sole proprietorships get a new EIN when converting to an LLC.
Where do I get an EIN? You can get an EIN for free from the IRS. Getting an EIN is an easy process that can be done online or by mail.
FOR INTERNATIONAL EIN APPLICANTS: You do not need a SSN to get an EIN. For more information, read our How to Get an EIN as a Foreign Person guide.
FAQ: Getting a Colorado LLC EIN
How do I get an EIN if I don’t have a Social Security number?
A social security number is not required to get an EIN. You can simply fill out IRS Form SS-4 and leave section 7b blank. Then call the IRS at (267) 941-1099 to complete your application. Learn more here about applying as an international applicant.
What tax structure should I choose for my Colorado LLC?
Do I need an EIN for my LLC?
All LLCs with employees, or any LLC with more than one member, must have an EIN. This is required by the IRS.
Learn why we recommend always getting an EIN and how to get one for free in our Do I Need an EIN for an LLC guide.
Have a question? Leave a comment!
Ask us a question, tell us how we're doing, or share your experiences.
Join the conversation in our Comment Section.
Considering Using an LLC Formation Service?
We reviewed and ranked the top 5 LLC formation companies.
Find out which is the best LLC service for you.
Important Steps After Forming an LLC
Separate Your Personal and Business Assets
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your Colorado LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing the corporate veil.
You can start protecting your LLC in Colorado with these steps:
1. Opening a business checking account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Need help finding your EIN for your bank application? Visit our EIN Lookup guide for help.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
2. Getting a business credit card:
- Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
- Builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital (e.g., small business loans) later on.
Recommended: Learn more about the best small business credit cards.
For other important steps to protect your corporate veil, like properly signing legal documents and documenting company business, please read our corporate veil article.
Find a Business Accountant
One of the main reasons that LLC’s make great business structures is the benefits of pass-through taxation and the ability to write off business expenses. Having a business-savvy accountant to help you take advantage of these benefits can literally save you and your business thousands of dollars in taxes each year.
Along with the obvious benefit of massive tax savings, a business accountant can help you to:
- Track business expenses and reconcile your bank accounts
- Discover areas of unforeseen loss or extra profit in your business
- Run payroll for you and your employees
- Prepare and submit your quarterly tax filings
- Advise on advanced business strategies for even deeper tax savings
- Avoid costly errors and ensure your business stays on the good side of the IRS
Starting a relationship with a business accountant as soon as you form your LLC will ensure that you have the best advice from the very beginning. This will give you a head start when it comes to running your business and keeps your finances clean in the future.
Recommended: Get a free tax consultation and speak with a business accountant today.
Get Business Insurance For Your Colorado LLC
Business insurance helps you manage risks and focus on growing your LLC. The most common types of business insurance are:
- General Liability Insurance: A broad insurance policy that protects your business from lawsuits. Most small businesses get general liability insurance.
- Professional Liability Insurance: A business insurance for professional service providers (consultants, accountants, etc.) that covers claims of malpractice and other business errors.
- Workers' Compensation Insurance: A type of insurance that provides coverage for employees’ job-related illnesses, injuries, or deaths. In Colorado, businesses with one or more employees, excluding officers and LLC members, are required by law to have workers' compensation insurance.
Find out how much it will cost to keep your business protected.Get Your Free Quote Today
Send Out a Press Release
Press releases are among the easiest and best ways to promote your business. They are also one of the most cost-effective strategies as they:
- Provides publicity
- Establish your brand presence on the web
- Improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO), driving more customers to your website
- Are a one-time cost in terms of effort and money
- Have long-lasting benefits
Recommended: TRUiC has negotiated a 25% discount for you on a service that will write and distribute press releases for you.
Join the Conversation
We are here to guide you through your entrepreneurial journey, and are always looking at your feedback. Share your experiences in our comment box, chat with other entrepreneurs, or simply let us know how we're doing.
Keep Your Company Compliant
Colorado Business Permits and Licenses
Do I need business licenses and permits?
To operate your LLC in Colorado you must comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. For example, restaurants likely need health permits, building permits, signage permits, etc.
The details of business licenses and permits vary from state to state. Make sure you read carefully. Don't be surprised if there are short classes required as well.
Fees for business licenses and permits will vary depending on what sort of license you are seeking to obtain.
Find out how to obtain necessary Colorado business licenses and permits for your LLC or have a professional service do it for you:
- Federal: Use the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) guide.
- State: Apply for or learn more about business licenses, permits and registration with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies.
- Local: Contact your local county clerk and ask about local business licenses and permits.
Recommended: If you are a first-time entrepreneur, consider having a professional service research your business’s licensing requirements. Read our best business license services review on Startup Savant.
Colorado LLC Tax Filing Requirements
Depending on the nature of your business, you may be required to register for one or more forms of state tax.
If you are selling a physical product, you’ll typically need to register for a seller's permit online through the State of Colorado’s website.
This certificate allows a business to collect sales tax on taxable sales.
Sales tax, also called "Sales and Use Tax," is a tax levied by states, counties, and municipalities on business transactions involving the exchange of certain taxable goods or services.
Read our sales tax guide to find out more.
Federal LLC Tax Filing Requirements
Most LLCs will need to report their income to the IRS each year using:
- Form 1065 Partnership Return (most multi-member LLCs use this form)
- Form 1040 Schedule C (most single-member LLCs use this form)
How you pay yourself as an owner will also affect your federal taxes. Visit our guide to learn more about how to pay yourself from your LLC.
Read our LLC Tax Guide to learn more about federal income taxes for LLCs.
File Your LLC Annual Report
Colorado requires LLCs to file an annual report with the Colorado Secretary of State.
File your Annual Report
File an Annual Report Online with the State of Colorado
Fee: $10 (Nonrefundable)
Filing Window: Due within a 5 month period starting 2 months before and 2 months after the date in which the LLC was formed. For more information, visit Colorado's Secretary of State website.
Late Filings: Colorado charges a $50 penalty if you miss the annual report deadline. In addition, failure to file your annual report for 2 months will cause your LLC to be designated as "Delinquent," resulting in loss of certain rights and privileges.
Avoid Automatic Dissolution
LLCs may face fines and even automatic dissolution when they miss one or more state filings. When this happens, LLC owners risk loss of limited liability protection. A quality registered agent service can help prevent this outcome by notifying you of upcoming filing deadlines and by submitting reports on your behalf.
Recommended: ZenBusiness offers a reliable registered agent service and excellent customer support.
If you plan to hire employees for your business, stay compliant with the law by following these steps:
- Verify that new employees are able to work in the US
- Report employees as "new hires" to the State
- Provide workers' compensation insurance for employees
- Withhold employee taxes
- Print workplace compliance posters and place them in visible areas of your workspace
Find more information at the Colorado Department of Labor website.
Recommended: Check out our Hiring for your Small Business Guide for resources like sample job descriptions, payroll service reviews, and more.
FAQ: Hiring Employees
What is the minimum wage in Colorado?
The minimum wage in Colorado is $12.00 per hour. In Denver, the minimum wage is $12.85 per hour.
How often do I need to pay employees?
In Colorado, wages must be paid at least once per month.
Get Help Starting a Business in Colorado
We understand that creating an LLC in Colorado and getting your business up and running comes with many challenges. To help you succeed, we compiled the best local resources in every major metro area in Colorado. You can get free assistance in the following areas:
Small Business Resources
Women in Business Tools and Resources
If you have a woman-owned business, many resources are available to help you concentrate on your business’s growth:
- Funding - (ie. grants, investors, loans)
- Events - (ie. conferences, meetups)
- Guides - (ie. business formation, personal growth)
- Support - (ie. advice, communities, business strategies)
Our information and tools will provide educational sources, allow you to connect with other women entrepreneurs, and help you manage your business with ease.
Free LLC Legal Forms
TRUiC offers a number of free LLC legal forms to help with creating documents like:
- Operating agreements
- LLC resolutions
- Hiring documents, including:
- Employment contracts
- Independent contractor service agreements (ICSA)
- Non-disclosure agreements (NDA)
All you’ll need to do to download the forms is sign up for the TRUiC Business Center, which is also free, forever.
How to Make a Website
Check out our how to build a website guide to learn how creating a website isn’t as difficult as it might seem. With the right tools, a good guide, and a bit of patience, you can learn how to make a website for your business in no time.
Recommended: Read our review to find the best website builder for small business.
How to Build Business Credit
Learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other business funding options in your business's name (instead of yours), with better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
TRUiC’s Small Business Tools
TRUiC believes business tools should be free and useful. Our tools help solve business challenges, from finding an idea for your business, to creating a business plan, writing an operating agreement for your LLC, and more.
Check out TRUiC’s small business tools:
TRUiC has created video guides to support and reinforce our on-page guides. These videos help to visualize the ideas and lessons that you need to know to create and run a successful business.
Check out our growing library of small business videos on the TRUiC YouTube channel.
Colorado Foreign LLCs
Forming a foreign LLC allows your company to operate as one entity in multiple states. If you have an existing LLC and want to do business in Colorado, you will need to register as a foreign LLC. This can be done online.
Register as a Foreign LLC in Colorado
File Online with the Colorado Secretary of State
Fee: $100 (Nonrefundable)
How to Obtain a Certificate of Good Standing in Colorado
A Certificate of Good Standing verifies that your LLC in Colorado was legally formed and has been properly maintained. Several instances where you might need to get one include:
- Seeking funding from banks or other lenders
- Forming your business as a foreign LLC in another state
- Obtaining or renewing specific business licenses or permits
For more information, visit Colorado's Secretary of State website
Order a Certificate of Good Standing
Request a Certificate of Good Standing Online
How to Dissolve an LLC in Colorado
If at any point in the future you no longer wish to conduct business with your Colorado LLC, it is important to officially dissolve it. Failure to do so in a timely fashion can result in tax liabilities and penalties, or even legal trouble. To dissolve your LLC, there are two broad steps:
- Close your business tax accounts
- File the Articles of Dissolution
When you are ready to dissolve your LLC, follow the steps in our Colorado LLC Dissolution Guide.
LLC: An LLC is a US business structure that offers the personal liability protection of a corporation with the pass-through taxation of a sole proprietorship or partnership.
DBA: A DBA, or doing business as name, is any name a business operates under that isn't its legal name.
Partnership: A partnership is an informal business structure owned by more than one individual that doesn't provide personal liability protection.