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Colorado LLC Name SearchWhen planning to start a Colorado LLC, first comes your big idea, your product or service, the meat and potatoes of your business. After all, that’s how you’ll build a dream business.

But after the initial rush of deciding to take your idea to market, you have to answer an important and pressing question: “what do I call it?”

Every LLC needs a name, preferably a catchy one, and specifically one that isn’t already in use. After all, despite how clever it may be, you can’t steal someone else’s name.

“But,” you may ask, “how do I know if a name is already in use?” It’s a good question. There are a lot of businesses in Colorado, and a lot of names to check. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to go about it: performing an LLC name search.

Reasons to Perform an LLC Name Search

Checking for Colorado LLC name availability is the most common reason to perform a search, but it’s far from the only one. Here are a few other reasons you might search for a name:

1) Finding Similar Names

You don’t want potential customers confusing you with another company, especially if that company is a competitor. Your proposed name might be available, but there could also be multiple businesses out there with deceivingly similar ones. If you don’t want your LLC getting mixed up with other businesses, this might prompt you to find a new name.

2) Checking Your Business Status

Once you’ve filed the Articles of Organization and started your Colorado LLC, you can periodically check its status by searching for your existing name. This will confirm your business’ good standing with the state and provide your LLC’s ID number, which is required for certain filings.

3) Registered Agent and Office Information

At some point, you might need to send a business service of process. Or, more positively, you might want to partner with them. In either case, you’ll need their Colorado registered agent name and office address, readily available through a name search.

4) Maintaining Current Business Information

When modifying your LLC’s information – like changing your registered agent or principal address to a member or a registered agent service  – you will want to confirm the information that the Secretary of State already has on file. A name search will take care of this for you.

How to Perform a Colorado LLC Name Search

The Colorado Secretary of State has two different business search options, and which one you use depends on your goal.

If you want to see if a business name is available, there’s a specific “Name Availability Search” option. Enter your desired name in the search bar and it will let you know if it’s already in use or not. If it’s free, great! You can reserve it or use it on your Articles of Organization. And if it’s not, you’ll need to come up with a new one.

On the other hand, you may be trying to find information on a specific business. In this case, use the “Business Database Search,” which contains every company registered with the Secretary of State. Enter a full or partial business name, trademark, trade name, ID, or document number.

If you search for a keyword, the search will return numerous results, and if you search for an exact name or ID, it will likely return only one. Either way, you can access the following information by selecting any business:

  • Entity Name
  • Status (good standing, delinquent, etc.)
  • ID Number
  • Periodic Report Month
  • Formation Date
  • Entity Type (LLC, corporation, etc.)
  • State of Jurisdiction
  • Principal Office Address
  • Registered Agent Name
  • Registered Agent Address

You won’t need this info, of course, if you’re simply checking to see if your name is in use. But at some point in the life of your business, you likely will, and you’ll know right where to find it.

What if My Name Is Unavailable?

So, you went to the Name Availability Search, plugged in your desired name, hit search, and there it was: your precious name, already in use. What now?

If your LLC is domestic (formed in Colorado), your only option is to start brainstorming ideas for a different one. Just don’t use one that’s too similar. Then, when you’ve found an acceptable, available name, go ahead and either form your LLC or reserve the name for future use.

Is your LLC based in another state? The process for foreign LLCs is a little different. Your LLC has already been operating under a particular name, but if that name isn’t available in Colorado, you will need to establish an “assumed name,” or a name that your LLC will use only in the state. When you foreign qualify in Colorado, you can designate an assumed name on your Statement of Foreign Entity Authority.

How to Make a Colorado LLC Name Distinguishable

Like other states, Colorado has its own set of business name requirements. Whether actual or assumed, your LLC name must:

  • Use one of the following terms – Limited Liability Company, Ltd. Liability Company, Limited Liability Co., Ltd. Liability Co., Limited, L.L.C., LLC, Ltd.
  • Be both available and distinguishable from all other business names registered or reserved with the Secretary of State.

But what, exactly, does it mean to have a distinguishable name? The process of determining uniqueness is highly specific. Changes to a name’s punctuation or capitalization do not make it distinguishable. However, altering the name’s entity designator or adding/removing articles like “the” or “a” will differentiate it.

Additionally, you might try rearranging words, changing the spelling, using abbreviations or acronyms, or adding words. This way, you’ll have a distinguishable name without having to change it entirely. Still, you don’t want your LLC name to be so close to another entity’s name that people will confuse them, so be careful when altering it. Read over the Secretary of State’s Entity Names FAQ page for more information.

What’s Next?

What you do next depends entirely on what your goal is. If you’re checking for name availability and your name is free in Colorado, you can proceed to reserve it and use it on your Articles of Organization.

You can reserve a Colorado business name for 120 days by paying a $25 fee. Or, you can use your available name on the Articles of Organization, which will automatically register it.

 

Need Help Starting an LLC?

As we mentioned earlier, an LLC formation service can take care of all the paperwork for you. Using a formation service guarantees that your filings will be completed and submitted correctly. It also eliminates the stress of doing it yourself and gives you more time to develop your business plan, network, or just relax.

We invite you to take a look at our complete guide to all of the top options, but we’ll also quickly run down three of the most popular companies right here.

  • ZenBusiness ($49) – ZenBusiness offers a well-rounded LLC formation package at a great low rate. Their standard LLC package includes a year of annual report service. ZenBusiness also receives stellar customer feedback, plus it’s a public benefit corporation that gives back to the communities it serves.
  • Northwest Registered Agent ($39) – Northwest offers a bit more of a premium service and we think it’s worth it. Northwest includes a year of its industry-best registered agent service with the purchase of any LLC formation package. They also offer the best customer support in this industry, with knowledgeable representatives who are familiar with the details of business formation processes in every state.
  • LegalZoom ($79) – For most people, LegalZoom is the first name that comes to mind for LLC services. With millions of clients, it’s easy to see why. LegalZoom’s pricing and features may not compete on an equal playing field with ZenBusiness and Northwest, but its brand power is second to none, it receives solid customer reviews, and it has a strong money-back guarantee.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which words are restricted from usage for LLC names in Colorado?

We were unable to find a specific list of restricted names in Colorado. However, in general, you’re not allowed to use words that refer to other business types (such as corporation or partnership) or those that refer to specific types of regulated businesses (like bank or insurance).

Is it necessary to reserve my business name before forming my Colorado LLC?

No. In fact, Alabama is the only state that requires entrepreneurs to reserve a business name before forming an LLC. In Colorado and the other 48 states, this is an optional and largely unnecessary step.

How many small businesses are there in Colorado today?

The state of Colorado is home to more than 600,000 small businesses. Entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and business types find that Colorado is a great place to own and operate a small business.

What are the top small business resources and websites in Colorado?

The Colorado chapter of the Small Business Development Center is a great place to start, as they provide many tools and resources for Colorado LLCs. The Colorado District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration also has a wealth of information for entrepreneurs. Finally, the state’s Office of the State Controller has a “Doing Business With the State of Colorado” webpage that’s packed with valuable info.

What Is the Total Expected Cost of Operating an LLC in Colorado?

The overall costs of operating a Colorado LLC can vary considerably based on the specifics of your business. However, we created a helpful guide to help you identify and plan for every expense your LLC will face in this state.

Should I Use an LLC Service, Hire an Attorney, or Form My Own LLC?

The answer to this question lies in your personal preferences, but we can give some general pointers. An attorney will cost the most by a mile, but also provides expertise you won’t find with the other options. The DIY route is free of charge but can require quite a bit of legwork and provides no peace of mind that the process is being completed correctly.

Using an LLC service means your business will be formed by professionals who know what they’re doing, while also costing significantly less than a lawyer. This “best of both worlds” attribute is what makes LLC services our preferred option.