What is a DBA?
When a company wants to do business under a different name, it usually files that secondary name with the state of Colorado. In Colorado this is called a DBA (doing business as). For example, if ha company that was formed as “Frank’s Lawn Service, LLC” wants to start doing business as “Best Lawn Service” then the owners need to file a DBA for the second name, which is called a trade name.
When You Need a DBA
In Colorado, a sole proprietor or business entity has between 30 and 60 days in which it can use a DBA without registering the name with the Secretary of State. After that time period, they must file or stop using the name. Here are some other reasons to file a DBA:
- A sole proprietor must file for a DBA if he or she chooses to operate under a name different than the name of the personal owner.
- If the filer for the DBA is a corporation or LLC, and plans to operate a business using a name other than the name of the parent company, a DBA must also be filed.
- If a business seeks to use a name for which another business already has rights, the business may need to file for a DBA registration to avoid a trademark infringement action.
- A DBA must be filed in order to open a bank account, sign contracts, accept payment, or otherwise enter agreements using the trade name.
Setting Up a DBA in Colorado
In order to determine if a name can be used in a DBA, or if it is already in use by another company, prospective filers must search the Colorado Secretary of State's Records Search. Businesses aren’t allowed to have similar names because this is considered confusing to the public (and it’s bad for business anyway). Furthermore, Colorado law prohibits the DBA registration of a name that includes phrases like "Corporation," "Corp.," "Incorporated," etc. The name selected for a DBA filing cannot be similar to a DBA that was recently dissolved in Colorado in the past 120 days. Filers will be able to find this information through the entity search function on the Secretary of State site.
Colorado DBA Forms
Businesses that want to file for a DBA or trade name can visit the Secretary of State website. There they will find a number of hyperlinks to forms for DBA filings, which differ depending upon the entity status or sole proprietorship status of the filer.
Colorado DBA Filing and Registration
You must provide some personal information on the registration forms, including:
- Name and address
- Proposed DBA designation
- Description of the business you wish to carry on under the DBA name
- Email address
Note: You may delay the effective date of the DBA designation for up to 90 days. This may allow you to avoid running afoul of the requirement that names similar to those dissolved within 120 days cannot be registered. DBAs in Colorado need to be renewed every five years.
Adding a trade name to your business by filing a DBA will not change the way your business will be taxed.