Colorado Articles of Organization

You have a big idea, truckloads of ambition, and dreams of a thriving Colorado LLC, and you’re mentally prepared to make it happen.

But the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and for you, that first step is filing the Articles of Organization.

With such grand plans, the last thing you might want to do is file paperwork, but completing the Articles of Organization is what authenticates your LLC, making it official in Colorado. It’s perhaps the most important step in starting your Colorado LLC. Following this guide will help take the tedium out of paperwork and get your business started quickly.

But before you dive into the Articles of Organization, you should have a few pieces of information ready to help streamline the process.

Choosing an LLC Name

Before anything else, you will need to decide on an LLC name. You must include a business name on your Articles of Organization, and if the Secretary of State deems that name unacceptable or unavailable, the document will be rejected, so make sure you nail down a good name right away.

As you narrow down your name options, confirm that all of your potential choices comply with the state’s business name requirements. Every Colorado LLC name must include the terms “limited liability company”, “ltd. liability company,” “limited liability co.,” “ltd. liability co.,” “limited,” “L.L.C.,” “LLC,” or “ltd.” Additionally, your name must not already be taken. You can find out if it’s distinguishable among the Secretary of State’s records by performing a name availability search.

Once you’ve found your perfect name, include it on your Articles of Organization to automatically register it. In the event that you’re not quite ready to file an LLC, you can place a 120-day hold on your name by submitting a name reservation request.

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Choosing a Colorado Registered Agent

A registered agent is your LLC’s liaison to the state, the mediator who takes care of all your important legal, tax, and compliance documents, keeping your business in good standing. Make arrangements with your desired registered agent beforehand, because their name, address, and consent are required on your Articles of Organization.

Your registered agent will fall into one of three pools: individuals, business entities, or the LLC itself. If an individual, the agent must be a Colorado resident with an in-state physical address, and this state also requires an individual registered agent to be at least 18 years old (this is the only state with a registered agent age requirement). If your registered agent is a company (like a registered agent service), it must be authorized to do business in the state.

Quick Note: If your first choice doesn’t work out, don’t worry. You can always change your registered agent in the future.

Preparing to File Your Colorado Articles of Organization

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Now for the main event: the Articles of Organization. Here’s your opportunity to get your LLC officially on record and authorized to conduct business in Colorado.

The Articles of Organization might be an immensely important document, but it’s not overly long or complicated. Take a few minutes to gather all the required information beforehand and you’ll cruise right through it. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • LLC name
  • Principal office address
  • Mailing address (if different from the principal office address)
  • Registered agent name and address (not a P.O. box)
  • The organizer’s name and address
  • Whether the LLC is managed by members or managers
  • A delayed effective date (optional)

Along with this information, you’ll need to supply payment for the form’s $50 filing fee, so have a credit or debit card ready when you file.

Filing Options

There’s only one method for submitting your Articles of Organization: online. On the Secretary of State’s Business Forms page, find the Limited Liability Companies section, and click “File Online” next to “Articles of Organization.” You’ll be directed through a series of pages. Simply follow the onscreen instructions to complete your filing.

Your submission will be processed immediately. The Secretary of State won’t mail you a confirmation, but you can always access the form by selecting “Filing History and Documents” on your LLC’s summary page.

What About Foreign LLCs?

The process outlined above works for domestic LLCs (those formed in Colorado), but what if your business is expanding to Colorado from another state? In this case, you could disregard the Articles of Organization. Your LLC will take a different path.

Your go-to form will instead be the “Statement of Foreign Entity Authority.” Like the Articles of Organization, this document must be filed online. This is called foreign qualifying your LLC, gaining permission from the state to conduct business there. Don’t attempt to do any business before foreign qualifying, as it can result in severe penalties and fines.

But after you’ve successfully filed your Statement of Foreign Entity Authority and received authority from the Secretary of State, you’re free to kick off your activities in Colorado.

Want Help Filing Your Colorado Articles of Organization?

Let’s be honest: you’ve got a lot on your plate. Filing paperwork can take time away from your other tasks, ones more focused on setting your budding LLC up for success.

The good news is that you don’t need to file the Articles of Organization yourself. But if an attorney is out of your price range, hiring an LLC creation service is a great option.

There’s no shortage of business incorporation services out there, but not all of them are equal. Each one offers different packages, costs, and processing times, so it’s important to find the right fit for your LLC.

While each service has optional upgrades and feature packages, on the most basic level, they will review your business information, prepare your formation documents, and submit them to the Colorado Secretary of State. They will complete everything outlined in this guide and notify you when your Articles of Organization have been filed. You won’t have to lift a finger.

There are other benefits too. Some services will include a year of free registered agent service when you hire them. Other services offer order tracking, notifications on future documents (like annual reports), assistance drafting your operating agreement, or coverage of certain LLC formation costs.

Important Post-Formation Compliance Issues

Once you’ve successfully filed your Articles of Organization, your LLC is an official business entity in the state of Colorado. However, this doesn’t mean that your responsibilities have come to an end. There are several other steps you’ll need to take if you want to operate a compliant LLC for years to come.

Acquire a Federal Tax ID Number (EIN)

While an EIN isn’t a requirement for Colorado LLCs, we strongly recommend that every entrepreneur obtains one. An EIN enables your LLC to hire employees, open business bank accounts, file taxes, and take care of several other important aspects of LLC maintenance. Even if you operate a single-member LLC with no employees, you should still have an EIN for your business.

Set Up a Financial Infrastructure

One other crucial step is to solidify the financial aspects of your LLC, first by opening a business bank account. You must have separate bank accounts for your personal use and for business purposes, as this will help you keep your personal and business assets separate, a vitally important consideration for any entrepreneur. If you commingle these assets, you leave yourself wide open for lawsuits, as it would be easy for someone to claim that your business is simply an extension of your own personality and not a separate entity from you as a person.

The other portion of this step is to set up an accounting system. This can either mean that you hire an accountant to take care of your LLC’s bookkeeping, or you could acquire high-quality accounting software like QuickBooks. Either way, you need a reliable means of keeping detailed records for each financial transaction your LLC executes. This is another vital part of keeping your personal and business assets separated, and it will also be enormously helpful come tax time.

Acquire Licenses and Permits

The next step involves obtaining any industry-specific licenses and permits your LLC may need to operate in compliance with state laws. Depending on the nature of your LLC’s business, you may require several permits or you may be able to operate your LLC without any state-level licenses.

Thankfully, Colorado makes it very easy to figure out your business’ licensing needs. All you need to do is visit the state’s Department of Regulatory Agencies and you’ll find the license and permit applications you require. Make sure to check with your county and locality as well, as there may also be licensing requirements for your business on these levels.

Obtain Business Insurance

This step isn’t a requirement, but it is a strong recommendation. The exact insurance policies your business needs will vary based on the type of products and services you offer, but most LLCs should at least have a general liability insurance policy to protect against common perils like slip-and-fall accidents. In some industries, you might need several different insurance policies to cover all of your financial bases, so do your research ahead of time to determine which types of insurance you should purchase.

File Your Periodic Reports

Each year, every LLC in Colorado must file a periodic report. This report includes some basic information about your business and keeps the state updated regarding any important changes to your LLC’s structure. The information you’ll need to file this report typically includes your LLC’s principal office address and mailing address (if different), the name and address of your registered agent, and the name and address of the report filer.

Frequently Asked Questions

About Filing the Colorado LLC Articles of Organization

How long does it take Colorado to form an LLC?

Colorado only accepts Articles of Organization filings online, and these filings are processed immediately.

Should I file my own Articles of Organization, hire an attorney, or use an online service?

This question largely comes down to personal preferences, but we do have some general insights. The DIY route can be quite a bit of work, as you’ll need to complete each step of the formation process on your own with no assistance. As for hiring an attorney, this can be prohibitively expensive for new businesses, as a lawyer can charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars to form your LLC.

You can think of business services companies as a middle ground between these options. While most of these companies charge a fee to form your LLC, that fee will be significantly less expensive than an attorney’s fee. At the same time, you still aren’t going it alone. Instead, you have an experienced professional guiding you through the entire process.

What does Colorado require for LLC formations other than the Articles of Organization?

Unlike some states, Colorado doesn’t require any related filings other than your formation articles. However, we still strongly recommend obtaining a federal tax ID number (EIN). An EIN allows your LLC to file taxes, hire employees, open business bank accounts, and more. Every LLC should have one, whether your state requires it or not.

How many small businesses are there in Colorado?

Today, Colorado has more than 630,000 small businesses. Clearly, entrepreneurs in many different fields find Colorado to be a great place to own and operate a business entity.

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