A Colorado DBA (doing business as) is called a trade name. Colorado trade name registration allows a business to operate under a name that’s different from its legal name.
Colorado DBA registration won’t protect your personal assets. Forming a formal business structure like an LLC or corporation will give you liability protection along with a business name
Use our step by step guide below to get a DBA for your Colorado business. For a look at DBA filing in another state, check out our other How to Get a DBA guides.
Colorado Trade Name Registration
Registering a Colorado trade name, also known as a DBA, is easy!
A DBA is only used for branding. A DBA doesn't offer any protection for your personal assets in the event that your business is sued. For this reason, we strongly recommend that a DBA should only be used by a formal business structure such as an LLC or corporation for the purpose of adding new brands to an existing business.
If you are running an informal business (sole proprietorship or partnership), we strongly suggest forming an LLC to separate your business and personal assets. The name of the LLC can be selected to act as the brand name for the business.
Learn How to File a DBA in Colorado yourself in two steps:
Note: A DBA is only used for branding. We recommend forming an LLC to separate your business and personal assets.
Step 1: Start with a Colorado Trade Name Search
Your Colorado trade name must be unique and must also meet Colorado’s business name requirements.
First, visit the Colorado Name Availability Search website and search for your new DBA name to make sure it isn’t already in use.
Next, review the Colorado naming requirements. In Colorado, your trade name should not include:
- Any term that would violate any Colorado law. For example, your business name cannot include obscenities or references to illegal activities.
- Words that could confuse your business with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
We recommend checking if your name is available as a web domain (URL). You might not plan on starting a business website today, but you may want to prevent others from acquiring your URL.
Find a Domain Now
Once you reserve a domain name for your DBA, consider setting up a business phone system to help strengthen your customer service and boost credibility. We recommend Phone.com because of its affordable pricing and variety of useful features. Start calling with Phone.com.
Need Help Creating a Brand Name and Logo?
Step 2: Register Your Colorado DBA
Your Colorado trade name must be filed online with the Secretary of State. You can file on the Secretary of State’s website. There are different forms depending on your business structure (corporation, LLC, partnership, etc.).
Some important information to include on the form includes:
- The trade name itself
- A description of the business
- The effective date of the trade name
A DBA does not offer any legal protection for your personal assets in the event that your business is sued. For more information on setting up a limited liability company, visit our How to Form an LLC page and select your state.
Note that Colorado has reduced trade name filing fees to $1 from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023.
Manage Your Colorado Trade Name
Call the Colorado Secretary of State’s office: (303) 894-2200 or (855) 428-3555 (toll-free)
Renew Your Trade Name With the State
Trade names for sole proprietorships and partnerships in Colorado expire on the first day of the month after the one-year anniversary of the filing. For example, if a trade name was registered on October 10, it would expire on November 1 of the following year.
Trade names need to be renewed online before the expiration date. They can be renewed at any point during the three months prior to the expiration date. The renewal fee is $5.
Trade names for LLCs and corporations do not expire as long as the company remains in good standing. If the company falls out of good standing, the trade name will expire after one year. If the company gets back to good standing, the trade name expiration date will be canceled.
If your trade name expires and you would like to use it again, you will have to file a new registration form.
Change Your Trade Name
You can make changes or corrections to your trade name registration online. The fee is $10.
Withdraw Your Trade Name
You can withdraw your Colorado trade name online. The fee is $10.
If you want to use a professional service to get a DBA for your business we recommend:
Swyft Filings ($99 + state fee)
After Filing Your Colorado DBA
If filing a DBA marks the beginning of your business journey, then there are a few more steps that you should take before getting started:
- Create your Business’s Website - Every business needs a website. Luckily, drag-and-drop builders like GoDaddy and Wix make the job quick and easy. Check out our Best Website Builder article to find the tool that’s best for you.
- Get your Business Finances in Order - You’ll need to separate your business finances from your personal ones. This is accomplished by opening a business bank account. If your business has long lead times or other cash flow irregularities, you can also look into a business credit card.
- Protect Your Business - While an LLC will help to protect your personal assets in the case of a lawsuit, your business’s assets also need protection. Having the right business insurance will ensure that you’re covered if the worst happens. Most businesses start with general liability insurance as their base coverage.
DBA Colorado FAQ
How many DBAs can I have?
You can have as many DBAs as you can afford to create and are able to keep track of. Each one comes with additional incremental expenses and paperwork, meaning more is not necessarily better.
Can a DBA get an EIN or Tax ID?
DBAs aren’t required to have a separate EIN because DBAs aren’t a business entity. The business entity that the DBA is under would have an EIN if an EIN is required.
To learn more about EINs and when you need one for your business, read our What is an EIN guide.
Can a DBA become an LLC?
No. An LLC is a business entity, while a DBA is just a name for a business.
Sole proprietorships are often confused with DBAs, but they are not the same: a sole proprietorship is a business entity, therefore it can choose to become an LLC.
To learn how to form an LLC, visit our Form an LLC state guides.
Can a DBA have Inc. in the name?
A DBA can only have Inc. in the name if the business entity the DBA is attached to is a corporation.
How do I set up a DBA for a rental property?
Holding a rental property in your name and with a DBA will not afford you any protection. The best option is to form an LLC to protect your personal assets in the event of an issue with the rental property. In any case, it is always best to consult an attorney.
When would it be good to get a DBA versus a legal name change?
Getting a DBA is often a better choice than changing your business’s legal name. If you want to rebrand your company or focus on another line of business, filing for a DBA is a simpler process than filing for a legal name change.
Is my DBA protected from being used in other places?
Some state-level laws prevent DBAs that are too similar to existing ones from being used, but this varies from state to state. It is possible to trademark a DBA, which would offer stronger protection across state lines.