How to Start an LLC in South Carolina (Step-by-Step) 2024 Guide

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Starting a South Carolina LLC, step-by-step

Starting a South Carolina LLC costs $125. And it takes 2 days to get an LLC in South Carolina.

How to start an LLCThere are 5 steps to forming an LLC in South Carolina:

  1. Choose an LLC Name
  2. Select a Registered Agent
  3. File Articles of Organization
  4. Create an Operating Agreement
  5. Get an EIN

If you want to form your LLC yourself, follow our free guide below.

If you want someone to take care of it for you, we recommend hiring Northwest Registered Agent.

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

(We recommend Northwest. We've reviewed all the top companies in the industry. And Northwest is our #1 pick for prices, customer support, and address privacy. Check out Northwest vs LegalZoom to learn more.)

How much does it cost to start an LLC in South Carolina?

It costs $125 to start an LLC in South Carolina. This is the filing fee for the Articles of Organization – the document that creates an LLC.

To learn more about LLC Costs, see LLC Costs in South Carolina.

How long does it take to get an LLC in South Carolina?

If you file your LLC by mail, it will be approved in 3-4 business days (plus mail time).

But if you file online, your LLC will be approved in 1-2 business days.

We like the online filing since it’s much easier to complete, and the approval time is much faster. However, if you want to save $15 and don’t mind the wait, you can file by mail instead.

Please see How long does it take to get an LLC in South Carolina to check for any delays.

Here are the steps to forming an LLC in South Carolina

1. Search your LLC Name

LLC namesSearch your South Carolina LLC Name to make sure it’s available in the state.

You need to do this because two businesses in the state can’t have the same name.

First, search your business name and compare it to existing businesses in South Carolina. You can make sure the LLC Name you want is unique from existing businesses using the state’s Business Name Search.

Second, familiarize yourself with the naming rules in South Carolina (so your South Carolina LLC gets approved).

We’ll explain both in more detail here: South Carolina LLC Name.

2. Choose a Registered Agent

The next step is to choose your LLC’s Registered Agent.

Registered AgentA South Carolina Registered Agent is a person or company who accepts legal mail and state notices on behalf of your South Carolina Limited Liability Company.

Who can be an LLC Registered Agent?

You have 3 options for who can be the Registered Agent:

  • You
  • A friend or family member
  • A Registered Agent Service

The Registered Agent for your LLC must have a physical street address in South Carolina. PO Boxes aren’t allowed.

And the Registered Agent’s name and address will be listed on public records.

If you don’t have an address in South Carolina, or you want more privacy, you can hire a Registered Agent Service for your LLC.

We recommend Northwest Registered Agent

Our favorite feature about Northwest is they’ll let you use their office address throughout your LLC filing. This way, you can keep your address off public records.

They’ll also scan any mail sent to your LLC and upload it to your online account.

Northwest has excellent customer service, and they’re who we trust to be our own Registered Agent.

Special offer: Hire Northwest to form your LLC ($39 + state fee), and you'll get a free year of Registered Agent service.

(Why is Northwest the best? Read our Northwest Registered Agent review)

3. File LLC Articles of Organization

Articles of OrganizationTo start an LLC in South Carolina, you need to file the South Carolina Articles of Organization.

This gets filed with the South Carolina Secretary of State.

The South Carolina Articles of Organization costs $125 if you file online.

This is a one-time fee to create your LLC.

If you want to file this yourself, see our step-by-step guide: South Carolina Articles of Organization.

Or, you can hire a company to do it for you.

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

(Learn why Northwest is #1 in Northwest vs LegalZoom)

4. Create a South Carolina LLC Operating Agreement

Operating AgreementA South Carolina LLC Operating Agreement serves as a “companion” document to the Articles of Organization.

The Articles of Organization creates your LLC, and the Operating Agreement shows who owns the LLC.

Additionally, some banks require an Operating Agreement when you open an LLC bank account.

And having an Operating Agreement will be very helpful if you ever end up in court. Reason being, it helps prove that your LLC is being run properly.

That’s why we recommend that all LLCs have an Operating Agreement – including Single-Member LLCs.

Furthermore, an Operating Agreement is an “internal document“. Meaning, you don’t need to file it with the state or the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). Just keep a copy with your business records.

You can download a free template below.

Then, learn how to fill it out by watching our step-by-step South Carolina Operating Agreement video.

Download a free LLC Operating Agreement:
Member-managed: Google DocWordPDF
Manager-managed: Google DocWord

(What's better? See Member-managed vs Manager-managed LLC)

5. Get an EIN for your Limited Liability Company

The next step is to get a South Carolina EIN Number from the IRS for your LLC.

Note: An EIN Number is also called a Federal Tax ID Number or Federal Employer Identification Number.

EIN Number for an LLCAn EIN Number is used to:

  • identify your LLC for tax purposes
  • open a business bank account
  • apply for business licenses and permits
How much does an EIN cost?

Getting an EIN Number from the IRS is completely free.

How long does it take to get an EIN?

If you apply online, it takes 15 minutes.

If you apply by mail or fax, it can take 1-3 months.

How can I get an EIN?

US Citizens/US Residents: If you have an SSN or ITIN, you can apply for an EIN online. Follow these instructions: Apply for an EIN online.

Non-US Residents: You can’t get an EIN online, but you can still get one by fax or by mail. Follow these instructions: How to get an EIN without an SSN or ITIN.

What do I do after my LLC is approved?

After your South Carolina LLC is approved, there are some additional steps.

Open an LLC business bank account

You’ll want to open a business bank account for your LLC.

This makes accounting and record-keeping much easier for your business finances.

Having a separate business bank account also maintains your personal liability protection. This is because it keeps your business entity finances separate from your personal finances.

Get South Carolina business licenses and permits

Business LicenseGood news, South Carolina doesn’t have a state-wide general business license.

However, depending on where your LLC is located, you may need a local business license or permit.

For example, if you want to start a daycare, you may need a business license from the city or county.

You can learn more on our South Carolina Business License page.

File and pay taxes

LLC TaxesLLCs don’t pay federal income tax. Instead, the LLC Members pay the taxes for the LLC.

Said another way, the owners pay taxes for the LLC as a part of their personal tax return.

How will my LLC be taxed?

By default, a South Carolina LLC is taxed by the IRS based on the number of owners your LLC has:

  • A Single-Member LLC is taxed like a Sole Proprietorship.
  • A Multi-Member LLC is taxed like a Partnership.

Alternatively, you can ask the IRS to tax your LLC like a C-Corporation or S-Corporation.

Besides federal taxes, there are also state and local income taxes – and sales tax. Learn more in South Carolina LLC Taxes.

How to Start an LLC in South Carolina FAQs

Can I start an LLC online in South Carolina?

Yes, you can file your LLC online in South Carolina. The Articles of Organization filing fee is $125.

When you start your LLC online, it will be approved in 1-2 business days

What are the benefits of an LLC?

The first benefit of an LLC is protecting your personal assets. Meaning, if your business entity is sued, your personal assets – like your home, cars, and bank accounts – are protected.

This protection applies to all LLC owners (called LLC Members). It doesn’t matter if you have a Single-Member LLC or Multi-Member LLC. All of the LLC owners are protected from the business debts and liabilities.

This type of protection wouldn’t apply if you operate as a Sole Proprietorship or Partnership. With these types of informal business structures, the owners aren’t protected in the event of a lawsuit. For that reason, Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) are a much more popular business structure.

Another benefit is LLC pass-through taxation. This means the LLC itself doesn’t pay federal income taxes. Instead, the profits “pass through” to the LLC Members. And the Members pay the taxes on their personal tax return.

And South Carolina state income taxes are very similar, since the South Carolina Department of Revenue honors the federal tax treatment of your LLC. Meaning, the state will tax your business entity income the same way at the state level.

To learn more, please see How are LLCs taxed.

Is South Carolina a good state to start an LLC?

Whether South Carolina is a good state to start an LLC depends on where you live – and where you’re doing business.

Meaning, if you live in or do business in South Carolina, then you should start your LLC in South Carolina. While many websites talk about tax rates and advantages of certain states, none of that applies if it’s not the state where you live and do business.

For example, if you form an LLC in Delaware, but live in and conduct business in South Carolina, you’ll also need to register your Delaware LLC in South Carolina (and pay extra fees). And you’ll end up paying South Carolina taxes anyway. This ends up leading to more costs and more headaches with no advantages.

In summary, if you live in and conduct business in South Carolina, then yes, South Carolina is a good state to start a business. If you don’t live in and do business in South Carolina, then no, South Carolina isn’t a good state to start a business.

Real estate exception: If you’re purchasing real estate outside of South Carolina, you should form your LLC in the state where the property is located.

For more information, please see Best State to Form an LLC.

Do I have to file an LLC Annual Report in South Carolina?

LLC Annual ReportMost LLCs in South Carolina don’t have to file an Annual Report or pay an annual filing fee.

However, if you’ve chosen to have your LLC taxed as a Corporation, you will need to file an Annual Report.

But don’t worry. Choosing to have an LLC taxed as a Corporation is rare. And the IRS will only tax your LLC that way if you file a form with them requesting it.

For more information, see: South Carolina LLC Annual Report.

What is the difference between a Domestic LLC, a Foreign LLC, and a PLLC?

The main differences between Domestic LLCs, Foreign LLCs, and Professional LLCs are where they are formed and their business purpose.

A Domestic Limited Liability Company is an LLC that is formed in its “home state”, meaning, where the business owner lives and does business.

For example, if you live in and do business in South Carolina, you would form your Domestic LLC in South Carolina.

A Foreign Limited Liability Company is an LLC that is formed in a state that isn’t its home state. In this case, the term “foreign” simply means that the LLC is foreign to its “home state”.

For example, if you live in and do business in South Carolina, you would form your Domestic LLC in South Carolina. If you later expand into Georgia, you would register your existing South Carolina LLC as a Foreign LLC in Georgia.

Said another way, LLCs are created at the state-level.

So if you want your LLC to do business in two separate states, you have to form or register an LLC in both states.

This works by forming a Domestic LLC in your home state, and a Foreign LLC in the other state.

What is a PLLC?

A Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC) is a type of LLC formed for the purpose of providing “professional services”.

In this case, “professional” refers to business types that require special permissions (like a license, registration, or certification from the state) in order to do business legally.

For example, architects, attorneys, and social work counselors, doctors, and veterinarians often form their business practices as PLLCs.

You can read more about PLLCs, their availability, and their stricter requirements in: What’s a Professional LLC?

And for more information on Foreign and Domestic LLCs, please see:

South Carolina State Agencies

South Carolina Secretary of State (Division of Business Filings)

Website
Phone: 803-734-2158
Hours: 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday

South Carolina Department of Revenue

Website
Contact
Phone: 844-898-8542 or 803-898-5444 (taxpayer advocate line)
Hours: 8:30am – 4:45pm, Monday through Friday

Matt Horwitz
Matt Horwitz
Matt Horwitz is the leading expert on LLC education, and has been teaching for 15 years. He founded LLC University in 2010 after realizing people needed simple and actionable instructions to start an LLC. 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.

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20 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. Very helpful information for SC. My partner and I have set-up an LLC to purchase a business together (w/operating agreement). Our hopes are to also expand this LLC to the purchase of real estate in the future. Will that work or do we need separate LLCs for each acquisition? Also, do I need to file a DBA for each?

    • Hi Lisa, you could go about it either way: one LLC for business + real estate, or separate LLCs. Having said that, it’s more common to set up a separate LLC for real estate. This way, you separate the business liability from the real estate liability (and vice versa). And no, you wouldn’t need a DBA for any of these. We have more info on DBAs here: Do I need a DBA for my LLC.

  2. 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!

    • Hi Tom, where are the vehicles located? And in what state are they registered?

      • They’re located and registered in PA, was hoping to register them in the SC LLC

        • 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.

          Beginning in 2025, Pennsylvania will require all LLCs to file a Pennsylvania LLC Annual Report. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

    • Hi Dean, that’s so awesome to hear! You are very welcome :)

  6. 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!

  7. 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,
    Mark

    • 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.

  8. 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 :)

  9. 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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