Colorado Business Name Search (Step-by-Step Guide)
Even with the help of business services through the Secretary of State, registering a business has financial consequences. Always discuss business setup with a business attorney.
How to search for Colorado business names
Before registering a business, a business owner needs to search the Colorado Secretary of State’s database for the business entity name availability. A name cannot be the same as another name, nor can it be similar to another business’s name. To search the database, enter search criteria as follows:
- Step 1: Navigate to the Colorado Secretary of State’s search tool.
- Step 2: Enter the entity name.
- Step 3: Click the ‘Search’ button.
- Step 4: If the search tool returns no results, the name is most likely available.
- Step 5: If the system returns results, it will return a clickable file number or entity number, the name of the business, and the business’s address. If the business owner does not find an exact match, he should review all records for similar names. For example, Aldi Enterprises and Aldi LLC are similar names, so the business could not use ‘Aldi.’
How to register a business name in Colorado
Colorado makes registering a new entity name easy. Everything you need is in one place, and the business owner does not need to create an account.
- Step 1: Navigate to the Colorado Secretary of State’s business formation page.
- Step 2: Choose the type of entity. If a business owner is not sure which entity is the best for his business, he should contact a business law attorney. Some entities offer more personal asset protection while some offer none. The Internal Revenue Service also taxes entities differently.
- Step 3: Click the link to the correct form. To form an LLC, click ‘Limited Liability Company.’ To register a trademark, click ‘Register a trademark.’ To form a for-profit corporation, click ‘Profit Corporation,’ and so on.
- Step 4: The link the business owner clicks will take her to a new page with instructions to form the entity, filing fees, how to pay the filing fees, and additional information. Follow the instructions for the entity you chose.
Colorado trademark/DBA name search
A business owner might want to register a logo, a trade name or other intellectual property. He can register intellectual property at the state level. However, the business owner must search the trademark database to ensure that no other intellectual property that is the same or similar exists. To search the Colorado trademark database:
- Step 1: Navigate to the Colorado Secretary of State’s trademark search tool.
- Step 2: Leave the restriction dates blank.
- Step 3: Tick the box for trade name or trademark for search type.
- Step 4: Enter the trade name or a descriptive keyword.
- Step 5: Leave the ‘Exact match’ box unchecked.
- Step 6: Tick the ‘I’m not a robot’ box for the CAPTCHA.
- Step 7: Click the ‘Search’ box.
When a business owner registers intellectual property in Colorado, it is not protected outside the state. If the business owner needs national protection, he must file it at the national level. If a business owner wishes to determine whether a business name or logo has been trademarked at the federal level, search the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Check if the domain name is available
Before a business registers its name, the business owner should take additional steps to ensure that the name is available for domain and social media use. While the domain name and social media accounts or pages do not have to have the same name as the business, it is better for marketing purposes. If another person or entity is already using the name, a prospective business owner can choose another name to register at the state level or use a different name that describes the business for the domain name and social media accounts.
If a business owner wishes to have an internet presence, she must check a domain registrar, such as GoDaddy, to determine if the business name is available.
If a domain name is not available
- Choose another domain name that describes the business.
- Pick another business name if the owner has not registered the name with the Colorado Secretary of State and does not mind picking a different name.
- Choose a domain name that is similar to the existing name. However, don’t make it too similar, or customers will end up at a competitor’s website.
- Additionally, if a dot-com is not available, but a dot-net is, do not use the name. Customers will end up on the competitor’s site.
Finally, when the business owner finds a website name that he can work with, register it immediately. During the registration process, select additional extensions, especially dot-net and dot-store.
Once a business owner finds an acceptable name, we recommend registering it immediately. Someone else could easily register a domain under your business name.
Check if the social media name is available
Social media platforms give a business an inexpensive way to market. A business owner only has to enter the business name in the search box to determine if someone else is using the name. If not, create an account for the business immediately – before someone else takes the name.
If someone is using the name, use a descriptive name for the business or consider picking a new business name if you haven’t yet registered the business with the state. A business owner could also use a similar name – but ensure that it isn’t so similar that it will send customers to a competitor.
Naming considerations for Colorado business entities
Colorado requires business owners to append certain phrases, words, or abbreviations to the end of a business name or it will reject the filing.
Sole proprietorships and partnerships
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships do not have to register with the Colorado Secretary of State. They must, however, use the business owner’s name as the business name. Partnerships must use the partners’ surnames.
If a sole proprietorship or general partnership wishes to conduct business under another name, it must register the ‘doing business as’ (DBA) name.
Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
A limited liability company must add one of the following to its business name:
- Limited liability company.
- Ltd. liability company.
- Ltd. liability co.
- Limited liability co.
A limited liability partnership must add one of the following to its business name:
- Limited liability partnership.
- Registered limited liability partnership.
A limited liability limited partnership must add one of the following to its business name:
- Limited partnership.
- Limited liability limited partnership.
- Registered limited liability limited partnership.
A limited partnership must add one of the following to its business name:
- Limited partnership.
A cooperative could include one of the following, though it is not mandatory:
A corporation must include one of the following:
A nonprofit corporation follows the same naming conventions but appending one of the words or abbreviations is not mandatory.
How are business licenses obtained in Colorado?
Colorado does not require a general business license. However, certain industries must have licenses. Business owners should also check with the county and city where the business is located to determine whether the local jurisdictions require business licenses.
How does a business obtain a Certificate of Good Standing?
Navigate to the Business Organizations page and search for the business name. Select “Get a Certificate of Good Standing” on the summary page. Print or save the PDF file that opens.
How long does it take the Secretary of State’s office to process my filing?
Online filings are processed in real-time, which means that they are completed as soon as the business owner submits the documents. Paper filings take up to 10 business days.
How does a business obtain a copy of its business filings?
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office does not forward confirmation copies. Instead, view the images online from the entity’s summary page under “Filing History and Documents.”
Does a business require a registered agent?
Yes. Any business registered with the Secretary of State must have a registered agent. The registered agent accepts the process of service, legal documents, documents from the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, and other government agencies. It then forwards the documents to the business owner in a timely manner.
How does a business find out if a creditor filed a lien against the business or business property?
Navigate to the Colorado Secretary of State’s UCC filings page. Enter the entity name as the search criteria for “Debtor.” If the UCC filing is in your name, you must enter your name in the box.
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