How to Form an LLC in South Carolina

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Starting an South Carolina LLC

How to start an LLCA South Carolina Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a business structure used to protect your personal assets (home, car, bank account) in the event your business is sued.

An LLC can be used to operate a business, or an LLC can be used to hold assets (such as real estate, vehicles, boats, or aircraft).

Need to save time? Hire a company to form your LLC:
Northwest ($39 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)

(check out Northwest vs LegalZoom)

1. South Carolina LLC Name

LLC namesBefore filing your LLC with the South Carolina Secretary of State, you need to make sure your desired South Carolina LLC name is available.

Your desired South Carolina LLC name must be “distinguishable upon the records”. In other words, your LLC name must be unique when compared to existing businesses that are registered with the South Carolina Secretary of State.

South Carolina LLC Name Search:

Use the South Carolina Secretary of State: Business name search to check whether your business name is already in use.

LLC Designator: Under the South Carolina Uniform LLC Act (see Section 33-44-105), your LLC must end with the proper designator. Acceptable designators include the following:

  • LLC
  • L.L.C.
  • LC
  • L.C.
  • Ltd. Liability Co.
  • Limited Liability Co.
  • Ltd. Liability Company
  • Limited Liability Company

Tip: If you’re not sure which designator to use, “LLC” is the most common.

Your South Carolina LLC name cannot include a designator that makes it sound like a different type of legal entity. For example, your LLC name cannot include the words or abbreviations Corporation, Corp, Inc., Incorporated, Limited Partnership, LP, L.P., or Trust.

2. South Carolina Registered Agent

A South Carolina Registered Agent receives notices, legal mail, and court documents (called Service of Process) in case your LLC is involved in a lawsuit. Your South Carolina LLC’s Registered Agent can either be a person or a company.

Registered AgentIn order to do business in the state, your South Carolina LLC is required to maintain a Registered Agent. If your LLC fails to maintain a Registered Agent, then the South Carolina Secretary of State can administratively revoke your LLC. In the event this happens, you won’t able to do business in the state.

Your South Carolina LLC’s Registered Agent must have a physical street address within the state where notices and other documents can be served. This enables process servers (people who deliver legal documents) to properly deliver legal mail and court documents to your South Carolina LLC. PO Boxes are not allowed to be used for a Registered Agent address.

Aside from a street address, your South Carolina LLC’s Registered Agent should also be available during normal business hours (9am to 5pm) from Monday through Friday in case service of process arrives.

Who can be your LLC’s Registered Agent in South Carolina?

Option 1: You can be your own Registered Agent.

Option 2: A friend or family member can be your LLC’s Registered Agent.

Note: If your Registered Agent is going to be either yourself or a friend or family member, that person must be a resident of South Carolina and be at least 18 years of age.

Option 3: You can hire a Commercial Registered Agent if you don’t have an address in South Carolina, or if you prefer to have a company take care of this role.

Commercial Registered Agent: If you need to hire a Commercial Registered Agent in South Carolina, we recommend Northwest Registered Agent ($125 per year).

Northwest has been in the business for over 20 years and they have great customer support. Any mail that is sent to your LLC will be scanned by them and uploaded to your online account.

Special offer: If you hire Northwest to form your LLC ($39 + state fee), they’ll include their Registered Agent service free for the 1st year.

3. South Carolina Articles of Organization

Articles of OrganizationTo officially form your company, you must file the South Carolina Articles of Organization.

South Carolina LLC filing fee: $125 (online filing) or $110 (mail filing)

Check out LLC Cost in South Carolina for more info on LLC fees.

South Carolina LLC approval times:

  • Your LLC will be approved in 1-2 business days if you file online.
  • Your LLC will be approved in 3-4 business days (plus mail time) if you file by mail.

Note: Filing times may take longer due to the current global situation and government delays. Please see how long does it take to get an LLC in South Carolina.

File your South Carolina LLC online:
We recommend filing your South Carolina LLC online, because it’s much faster. Our Articles of Organization lesson has step-by-step instructions for the online filing process.

File your South Carolina LLC by mail:
South Carolina Secretary of State: Downloadable paper forms
(look for “Limited Liability Company – Domestic”)

  • Pay the $110 filing fee by check or money order, made payable to “South Carolina Secretary of State”.
  • Mail your check or money order, along with 2 copies of the completed Articles of Organization, and a self-addressed stamped envelope to:

Secretary of State
Attn: Corporate Filings
1205 Pendleton Street
Suite 525
Columbia, SC 29201

South Carolina LLC approval:
You will get back a stamped and approved copy of the Articles of Organization and a Filing Receipt.

Need to save time? Hire a company to form your LLC:
Northwest ($39 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)

(check out Northwest vs LegalZoom)

4. South Carolina LLC Operating Agreement

Operating AgreementYour South Carolina LLC Operating Agreement is where you will list the owners (called “Members“) of your LLC, as well as how much of the business they own. You can have 1 member with 100% ownership, or you can have multiple members and split the ownership any way you’d like.

There are no rules as to how you split ownership in a multi-member South Carolina LLC. You’ll decide that amongst yourselves.

The LLC’s Operating Agreement will also spell out how the LLC is taxed, how the business is managed, and how profits are split.

Even if your South Carolina LLC has 1 member (“single-member LLC”), it’s still best practice to have an Operating Agreement in place. This helps keep your personal assets protected in the event of a lawsuit.

Your Operating Agreement does not need to be mailed to the South Carolina Secretary of State, or any other agency for that matter. It’s an internal document, meaning, you just keep it with your business records and give a copy to all members.

Download a free Operating Agreement for your South Carolina LLC: You can pick from one of these 3 formats: PDF, Google Doc, or Microsoft Word. Download the document and customize it for your LLC.

5. Federal Tax ID Number (EIN)

EIN Number for an LLCAfter your LLC is approved, you need to get a South Carolina EIN Number.

An EIN is also known as a Federal Tax ID Number, Employer Identification Number, and Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), but they all mean the same thing.

A Federal Tax ID Number is your South Carolina LLC’s “social security number”. It is used by the IRS to identify your LLC, mainly for tax purposes.

Uses for an EIN: Opening bank accounts, applying for certain business licenses and permits, and doing transactions with other businesses.

Wait for your LLC to be approved: Wait for your South Carolina LLC to be approved before you apply for a Federal Tax ID Number. If you don’t, you could end up having an EIN attached to a non-existent LLC (in case your filing is rejected by the South Carolina Secretary of State).

EINs are Free ($0): Applying for a Federal Tax ID Number is a free service provided by the IRS.

How to apply: You have three options on how to apply for a Federal Tax ID Number from the IRS:

1. Apply online (recommended method if you have an SSN or ITIN)
2. Or mail or fax Form SS-4

We recommend applying online since the approval time takes around 10-15 minutes, as opposed to filing by fax (4 business days) and filing by mail (4-6 weeks).

Form SS-4: If you need to file by mail or fax, you can download the form above, complete and sign it, then send it to the IRS:

Mailing address: Internal Revenue Service, Attn: EIN Operation, Cincinnati, OH 45999

Fax number: 855-641-6935

Don’t have an SSN or ITIN? (non-US Residents): If you don’t have a SSN or ITIN, you can still apply for an EIN Number. However, they can only apply by downloading Form SS-4 and filing it by fax or by mail (the online application won’t be accepted). Follow our instructions to Apply for EIN without SSN or ITIN.

Tip: On line 7b, just write “Foreign” if you don’t have an SSN or ITIN.

LLC owned by an existing company: Company-owned LLCs also can’t use the online application. You’ll have to file Form SS-4 by mail or by fax.

6. South Carolina LLC Annual Report

LLC Annual ReportGood News: The South Carolina Secretary of State doesn’t require most* LLCs to file a South Carolina LLC Annual Report.

The only exception to this rule is if your LLC has elected S-Corp status or C-Corp tax status with the IRS. If that’s the case, then you must file Form CL-1 (Initial Report of Corporations) within 60 days of the South Carolina LLC being formed. And you must also file Form SC 1120 or Form SC 1120S on an annual basis with the Department of Revenue.

7. Business Licenses and/or Permits

Business LicenseAfter you start an LLC, you need to check the South Carolina Business License requirements.

As with many other states, South Carolina does not issue a state-level general business license. However, you may need to get business licenses and/or permits depending on where your LLC is located and its line of business.

All LLCs doing business in the state must get a South Carolina Tax ID Number from the Department of Revenue. Make sure you already have your Federal Tax ID Number before applying.

You should also contact your county, city, or town to see if they enforce any local license or permit requirements. Use the county government and economic development websites.

If your LLC will render professional services, then you must contact the South Carolina Department of Labor.

Need to save time? If you’d rather not make the phone calls and do the research to determine your South Carolina LLC’s business license and permit requirements, we recommend using IncFile.

8. South Carolina State Taxes

LLC TaxesEvery small business has a unique South Carolina LLC Taxes situation, but we can provide an overview of the requirements.

Federal: By default, LLCs are classified as “pass-through entities” by the IRS. This means that your South Carolina LLC’s profits will “pass through” to your personal tax return and are usually listed on a Schedule C (which is a part of your personal US 1040 return). The LLC does not file a separate tax return with the IRS.

South Carolina Business Personal Property Tax: This is a tax on the furniture, fixtures and equipment that are owned and used to operate a business. Your LLC is required to file this if it has personal property in a business or leases equipment to a business.

You can file the Business Personal Property Tax using the South Carolina Department of Revenue’s online portal or by filing Form PT-100 by mail.

South Carolina also imposes state income tax, excise tax, sales and use tax, withholding tax, and more. You can review them on the Department of Revenue’s website.

Recommendation: Calculating your federal, state, and local taxes can be complex and time-consuming. If done incorrectly, your South Carolina LLC may be negatively affected. For that reason, we recommend speaking with a few accountants after your South Carolina LLC is formed. Check out our how to find an accountant guide, or you can do a search using Thumbtack or Yelp.

9. South Carolina LLC Bank Account

After your LLC is approved and you get a Federal Tax ID Number, you can now open a separate bank account for your South Carolina LLC.

Importance of a separate bank account for your South Carolina LLC: It makes accounting and bookkeeping easier, and it helps maintain your personal liability protection by separating your personal assets from the assets of your LLC.

Documents to open a bank account for your LLC:

  • Stamped and approved South Carolina Articles of Organization
  • Federal Tax ID Number (EIN)
    2 valid IDs (driver’s license, passport, etc.)

Tip: Call the banks ahead of time and ask them if they require other documents (like your LLC’s Operating Agreement, for example).

Other banking things to know:

Signers: LLC Members who want to be included as authorized signers on your South Carolina LLC’s bank account must be physically present during the opening of the account.

Maintenance fees: Many banks charge monthly maintenance fees, but others don’t. To find the best bank to open an account for your South Carolina LLC, we recommend you make a few calls and shop around.

DBA: A bank representative may sometimes ask for your LLC’s DBA (Fictitious Name). Your LLC does not need to register a DBA if your LLC will be doing under its own name. Sometimes bank representatives get confused about DBAs.

Debit card: The bank will give you a debit card when you open the account.

Credit card: You can also get a business credit card to earn points, miles, and other rewards.

10. Business Phone Number

Instead of using your home telephone number or your cell phone, you can purchase an affordable “virtual business number” specifically for your South Carolina LLC. You can set this virtual business phone up to forward to your cell phone, go through voice prompts, or configure it any way you’d like.

We recommend using as they have the cheapest plans and their customer service is excellent.

They offer local phone numbers as well as 1-800 toll-free numbers. You can easily setup call forwarding, pre-recorded prompts, and get voicemail messages forwarded to your email.

Getting a separate business phone number for your South Carolina LLC is also a good idea in order to keep your actual number private from those pesky “public record” websites.

South Carolina State Agencies

South Carolina Secretary of State (Division of Business Filings)
Phone: 803-734-2158
Hours: 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday

South Carolina Department of Revenue
Phone: 844-898-8542 or 803-898-5444 (taxpayer advocate line)
Hours: 8:30am – 4:45pm, Monday through Friday

Matt Horwitz
Matt Horwitz
Founder & Educator, LLC University®
Matt Horwitz has been the leading expert on LLC education for the past decade. He founded LLC University in 2010 after realizing people needed simple and actionable instructions to start an LLC that other companies weren't offering. He's cited by Entrepreneur Magazine, Yahoo Finance, and the US Chamber of Commerce, and was featured by CNBC and InventRight.
Matt holds a Bachelor's Degree in business from Drexel University with a concentration in business law. He performs extensive research and analysis to convert state laws into simple instructions anyone can follow to form their LLC - all for free! Read more about Matt Horwitz and LLC University.

18 comments on “South Carolina LLC”

Disclaimer: Nothing on this page shall be interpreted as legal or tax advice. Rules and regulations vary by location. They also change over time and are specific to your situation. Furthermore, this comment section is provided so people can share their thoughts and experience. Please consult a licensed professional if you have legal or tax questions.

  1. Hi Matt, I live and operate my existing LLC in PA. I’m interested in starting a second LLC in South Carolina to hold my assists, particularly my vehicles because they don’t have a state inspection requirement. The no reports and fees are also a plus. Can I legally do this?

    I also would never use this LLC other then to hold assets to prevent any liability. That being said, if I were to be personally sued or my first LLC is sued (in PA) would this LLC in (SC) be affected in anyway?

    Basically asking since it would be in SC and not PA can a PA Court put a judgement against it? Also if you can answer the same question with both LLC in PA, that would be appreciated. Thanks!

        • Thanks Tom. So there’s a few moving pieces here. First, you could deal with some issues when you’re trying to change title and register the vehicles in PA to your South Carolina LLC. Not that you legally can’t. It’s just that the DMV representative you see may not be familiar with out-of-state LLCs and they may ask to see that your South Carolina LLC is registered as a Foreign LLC in PA. So I’d recommend calling or visiting your local DMV office and see if they require any specific paperwork. Again, not that it can’t be done (I’ve registered vehicles in states where I reside with out-of-state LLCs, but it did take some extra effort on my part… the DMV office was quite confused).

          Let’s say all goes well and you title and register your vehicles in the name of your SC LLC. You asked if your PA LLC were sued, would that affect your SC LLC. The answer is no. Those are different entities.

          However, if you were personally sued, in a worse-case scenario, any LLC that you own could be “attacked”. Meaning (and this is over simplified), you’d first have to be personally sued for a large issue, not be able to settle, go to court, lose in court, not have insurance, and not have money to pay if a judgment were issued. Only then would the judgment creditor make an argument to look at your other assets for foreclosure/collection. And that could include LLC Membership Interest you own… aka, your ownership in your LLCs (in both states). And this could come into affect if the vehicles were instead owned by a PA LLC. There’s a few ways to strengthen this. First, I recommend speaking with an asset protection attorney in PA. However, you could consider having a bonafide 2nd Member in your LLC. And you can also get personal umbrella insurance. You can get a policy for a few million dollars. And the easiest place to start is contacting your car insurance company.

          Having said all that, if you’re just looking to save money, forming a South Carolina LLC for PA vehicles could be a lot of work and a headache. You’ll also need a South Carolina Registered Agent.

          Currently, PA LLCs don’t have Annual Reports (they have Decennial Reports; due once every 10 years), however, PA will soon move to an Annual Report system in 1-2 years. Even so, it might make your life easier to just use PA LLCs with adequate insurance. And if you want to get more fancy, you could speak with an asset protection attorney to do some other types of entity structuring. Hope that helps.

  2. Matt, thank you for all the useful information. I live in North Carolina, but own property in South Carolina resort area that is a short term vacation rental condo. I would like to put this property into a LLC for liability reasons as sole propriotorship. Should the LLC be in SC where the property is located instead of where I live? There is no mortgage, so to transfer the property title to the LLC would just require a quit claim deed? Would the LLC have to file a tax return in SC? And last, if the LLC holds the title, how does this affect my personal Will? Could I address this with a codicil to my personal Will to leave the property owned by the LLC to my heirs?

    • Hi Deb, you’ll need to speak with an accountant about how taxes are filed. We can’t comment on that. We also recommend speaking with an estate planning attorney. Typically, LLC membership needs to go through probate.

      If you have numerous properties, here’s something to look into (this is over simplified): Create a Living Revocable Trust in North Carolina. The Trust (technically the Trustee) is a Member of a “Parent company” LLC in North Carolina. The North Carolina LLC owns a South Carolina LLC (or various LLCs). You list your beneficiaries in the Trust. This has a number of benefits, one being that when you pass away, there is nothing to probate and the property(ies) don’t need to be re-titled. You could also build onto your estate planning and have your Trust own other assets. And your will could become a “pour-over” will, meaning, the beneficiary of the will is your Trust (to avoid probabte). A lot to digest, but I hope that helps.

  3. Q. My mother passed away 9 years ago. She left 3 acres of land to four children. We (1 of 4) would like to divide the land. There is no will. Is it possible to set up a LLC for the land?

    • Hi Al, yes, most likely, however, you’ll want to work with an estate attorney as it sounds like the estate still needs to be probated.

  4. Matt, thank you for taking time to list out detailed steps for setting up your LLC. I was a bit nervous on how to do this process, but after reading thru your step by step guide I became and expert lol Thank you for your help.

  5. Matt, thank you for taking time to list out extremely detailed steps for setting up your LLC. i was a bit anxious on how to do this process, what if i make a mistake that might come back to bite me later, etc. But your website with very detailed steps and state by state call out is super useful and amazing!
    Thank you for this service!
    Regards, GR

    • Hi GR, you are very welcome! We’re so happy to hear our site could help :) Again, you’re very welcome and best wishes with your business!

  6. I am looking set up an LLC in South Carolina and I plan to use a registered agent.

    When filling out the articles of organization I see there is a place to list :
    1.The initial designated office
    2. The initial agent for service process and the address for the initial agent
    3. The name and address of each organizer.

    I understand that the initial agent for service would be the third party registered agent, and the organizer is whom ever fills out the forms.

    My question is regarding the initial designated office.
    First can I use a PO box for this?
    Second can I use my registered agent’s address for this?
    Lastly, is all of this information publicly available and result in me receiving junk mail / solicitation if I list my home address as the initial designated office.

    Thank you,

    • Hey Mark, great questions. First, the entire Articles of Organization, and all information on it, is public record. So yea, junk mail and solicitations. That’s the unfortunate part. A lot of companies buy records from the state (or just scrape the database). Some third party Registered Agents will allow the use of their address in the “address of the initial designated office” section (as well as other sections of the Articles of Organization), others don’t. We specifically discuss this here: South Carolina LLC Registered Agent. The designated office address cannot be a PO box address. Hope that helps.

  7. Thank you for the information! I’ve been looking for a step by step guide like this online for my state. I will be setting up my LLC right now. Thanks!

    • You’re very welcome Terry! Hope you enjoy going through our free LLC course :)

  8. Matt good morning I’m looking to add a member and manager to my LLC I was wondering how I would do these things?

    • Hi Matthew, we recommend working with a business lawyer on this to properly document things. Here’s the overview though:

      1.) Review your Operating Agreement to see if there are already terms as to how an LLC Member is added. Also review state statute.
      2.) Create a Resolution of LLC Members (just you) agreeing to add the new Member and agreeing to file an Amended Articles of Organization (§33-44-204) with the South Carolina Secretary of State.
      3.) Either amend your existing LLC Operating Agreement or create a new one. This will show the LLC Member being added, their contribution to becoming an LLC Member, how much of the LLC they own, and any other terms of your arrangement.
      4.) File the Amended Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State.
      5.) File Form 8832 with the IRS changing your LLC’s tax classification from Sole Proprietorship to Partnership.
      6.) Work with an accountant to make sure your taxes are filed properly when April 15th 2019 rolls around. Part of the year your LLC was taxed as a Sole Proprietorship and the other part it was taxed as a Partnership.

      Having said all that, you may also want to consider just forming a new LLC with your new partner. It’s a lot easier than the above and the documentation is simpler.

      Hope that helps!


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