Here are the steps you need to take to form an LLC in South Carolina. For more information on how to form an LLC in any state, see Nolo's article How to Form an LLC.
Under South Carolina law, an LLC name must contain the words "Limited Liability Company" or "Limited Company," or the abbreviations "L.L.C.," "LLC," "LC," or "L.C." The word "Limited" may be abbreviated as "Ltd." and the word "Company" may be abbreviated as "Co."
Your LLC’s name must be distinguishable from the names of other business entities already on file with the South Carolina Secretary of State. Names may be checked for availability at the South Carolina Secretary of State business name database.
You may reserve a name for 120 days by filing an Application to Reserve a Limited Liability Company Name with the South Carolina Secretary of State Corporations Division. The reservation must be filed by mail. The filing fee is $25.
Every South Carolina LLC must have an agent for service of process in the state. This is an individual or business entity that agrees to accept legal papers on the LLC’s behalf if it is sued. The registered agent may be a South Carolina resident or a business entity authorized to do business in South Carolina. The registered agent must have a physical street address in South Carolina.
A South Carolina LLC is created by filing Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. The articles must include:
All of the paperwork and procedural steps to start a limited liability company in South Carolina can be done online using Nolo's South Carolina Online LLC Formation application.
An LLC operating agreement is not required in South Carolina, but is highly advisable. This is an internal document that establishes how your LLC will be run. It is not filed with the state. It sets out the rights and responsibilities of the members and managers, including how the LLC will be managed. It can also help preserve your limited liability by showing that your LLC is truly a separate business entity. In the absence of an operating agreement, state LLC law will govern how your LLC operates.
Additional tax and regulatory requirements may apply to your LLC. These may include:
EIN: If your LLC has more than one member, it must obtain its own IRS Employer Identification Number (EIN), even if it has no employees. If you form a one-member LLC, you must obtain an EIN for it only if it will have employees or you elect to have it taxed as a corporation instead of a sole proprietorship (disregarded entity). You may obtain an EIN by completing an online EIN application on the IRS website. There is no filing fee.
Business Licenses: There is no state-wide business license required in South Carolina. But nearly all cities and counties require businesses to obtain a local business license. More information and links to city and county websites are at the South Carolina Business One Stop (SCBOS) website.
Department of Revenue: In some cases, for example if you have employees or will be selling goods and collecting sales tax, you’ll need to register with the South Carolina Department of Revenue (DOR). In most cases, you can begin the process online at the South Carolina Business One Stop (SCBOS) website. For more information on state LLC tax registration, see Nolo's article South Carolina LLC Annual Filing Requirements.
To do business in South Carolina, all LLCs organized outside of the state must register with the South Carolina Secretary of State. Foreign LLCs must appoint a registered agent for service of process. The agent may be a South Carolina resident or a business entity authorized to do business in South Carolina.
To register, you must file an Application for a Certificate of Authority to Transact Business with the South Carolina Secretary of State and pay a $110 filing fee.The application must be filed by postal mail.
The completed application must be accompanied by a certificate of legal existence or good standing from the foreign LLC’s home state that is not more than 30 days old.