Find Out Which Licenses and Permits Your Colorado Business Needs

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By: Bill Henry
PublishedSep 9, 2021
4 minute read

To operate legally, every business, big and small, must obtain the proper licenses, permits, and government approvals. The documents you’ll need depend on the type of business you plan to run and where it’s located. Failing to be aware of local requirements could have detrimental effects on your business, such as fines, tax penalties, or even having to close your doors.

Get Help with Colorado Business Licenses and Permits

Our business attorneys can provide a wide range of advice, representation, and other legal services to ensure your business can obtain complete government licensing, permitting, or approval. Our intellectual property attorneys can also help you navigate the various avenues to protect your company’s assets and brand identity. Call 303-688-0944 to begin your case assessment today.

What Kind of Business License do You Need?

Requirements can exist at the federal, state, or local government level, at all three levels, or at just some levels. More than one government agency may play a role in licensing and regulating your business.

Most business licenses are issued by state or local governments. The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, also commonly referred to as just DORA, oversees and regulates 135 industries that include electrical contractors, real estate brokers, and children’s activity buses. Pet groomers, on the other hand, are regulated by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Car dealerships are regulated by the Colorado Department of Revenue, and health facilities by the Department of Public Health and Environment. Liquor licenses can be issued at the state and local levels. Your intellectual property rights might be best protected at the federal level.

With this multitude of layers and players, it is important that you understand your business’ governing authority or authorities, relevant regulatory requirements, and protections available to you so your license or permit is approved as quickly as possible. You want to ensure your business interests have the best possible protection and that you do not risk unnecessary delays or fines.

Am experienced business attorney can assist you throughout the licensing, permitting, and approval processes to ensure you are in compliance with requirements that will get your business up and running as quickly as possible.

Your Business Needs a Licenses to Sell Alcohol

The Colorado Liquor Enforcement Division issues licenses to businesses for the manufacture or sale of alcohol, as well as consumption permits to businesses and individuals for special events.

What the Alcohol Licensing Process Looks Like

Applying for a liquor license can is not as simple as filling out the paperwork. Believe it or not, the community in which you want to sell alcohol plays a large role in your ability to obtain a license.

You’ll have to establish that you have good character to hold a liquor license, and this can entail a background investigation. The local licensing authority will need you to demonstrate the community’s “need and desire” for your establishment to sell alcohol at a public hearing, and sometimes you could face community opposition.

Our business representation attorneys can advise you about this process and how to comply with state enforcement laws.

Failure to comply with local and state laws once you’re licensed can have serious consequences on your business. Stepping outside the law can result in fines or even having your liquor license revoked.

You Must Have a License to Sell Marijuana

With the passage of Amendment 64 in November 2012, Colorado became one of the first states in the nation to permit recreational sales of marijuana.

The Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division oversees the licensing of both medical and retail marijuana businesses.

Because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, it is important to understand how that will affect your business’ taxation, insurance, and real estate.

In addition to advising your business on obtaining a marijuana license, our attorney can help you to understand the full picture of this growing and uncharted industry.

Operating a Colorado Health Care Facility

All health care facilities in Colorado must be licensed through the Department of Public Health and Environment.

For example, if you want to become a service agency for developmentally disabled adults, Colorado law requires a licensure process that involves applications, inspections, and submission of policies and procedures for your business.

In addition to state-mandated licensing processes, health care facilities can also become certified through the Medicaid and Medicare programs, allowing providers to bill for reimbursement.

Opening a health care facility is a complex process that can involve state and federal regulations and requirements. We strongly suggest talking with a business law attorney who can advise you about Colorado’s health care facility licensing process.

How to Become a Licensed Customs Broker in Colorado

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency monitors the goods that travel in and out of the country. Certain items, such as food products, prescription medication, and name-brand articles, may require specific import licenses and permits.

Our attorneys can advise you about the process of becoming a licensed customs broker. That will enable your business to clear goods with the Customs and Border Protection agency on behalf of other importers.

Service Mark, Trademark, Trade Name, and Copyright

Protecting your business’ brand identity and intellectual property is essential to the long-term success of your business. Federal law provides the basis for most intellectual property protection and regulations, but state laws also provide some protection, particularly in regard to unfair business practices or consumer protection laws.

Trademarks & Trade Names

Service Marks and Trademarks refer to any word, name, symbol, device, or combination thereof that is used by a person or a business to identify and distinguish specific services and goods and the source of those services and goods.

As an example, when you see the “swoosh” on a pair of shoes, you know that those shoes are manufactured by Nike and are distinct from any competitors’ shoes.

Trade Names

Similarly, trade names are used to identify a specific business or vocation. Most anything can be a service mark, trademark, or trade name so long as it distinguishes the source of the good or service.

You can assert trademark rights in a word, symbol, name, etc. without registration, but a valid registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provides stronger rights to business owners in enforcing their mark and preventing its unauthorized or unlawful use.


A copyright is protection for “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression.” Copyright protection can extend to literature, music, dramatic performances, choreography, photography, motion pictures, and more.

Unlike trademark protection, a copyright must typically be registered with the government before the copyright owner can file a lawsuit for infringement.

Learn more about what copyright infringement is and what to do about it here.

Our law firm has an Intellectual Property practice comprised of attorneys knowledgeable about this sector of law. Call 303-688-0944 to schedule a case assessment for your business.

Get Advice About Licensing Your Business

Our attorneys can help you navigate the various avenues for licensing your business and establishing intellectual property protection.

The areas listed above provide just a sample of the types of business and licensing issues that our clients have faced.

Our attorneys are well-prepared to handle all of your questions associated with government licenses and permits, as well as any other challenge facing your business. Call 303-688-0944 to begin your case assessment with one of our knowledgeable business attorneys.

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