Quick Start Guide:
How to form an LLC in South Carolina
South Carolina LLC costs:
LLC formation: $125 online or $110 by mail
Annual report: None (for most LLCs)
★ Check out Northwest vs LegalZoom
The first step to forming an LLC in South Carolina is to search your desired LLC name and make sure it’s available for use.
Your South Carolina LLC name must be unique and must follow certain state requirements.
South Carolina LLC name requirements and restrictions are governed by the Uniform LLC Act. Please see Section 33-44-105.
South Carolina LLC Name Requirements
Before searching your LLC name in South Carolina, there are a few requirements you need to know:
1. The abbreviations “LLC” or “L.L.C.” must be used at the end of your name. The abbreviation “LLC” is the most common.
2. Because an LLC is not a Corporation, your desired name cannot use the word “Corporation”, “Incorporated,” or their abbreviations (“Corp.”, “Inc.”).
3. Your desired LLC name must be distinguishable. This means it must be different and unique from all other businesses registered in South Carolina.
Differences in designators (the identifiers at the end of a business name) and differences in grammar do not create distinguishability.
• LLC, L.L.C, Inc., Corp.
• singular, plural, and possessive
• A, An, The
• and, or, &
• hyphens, slashes, periods, commas
• three vs. 3
The following examples are NOT grammatically distinguishable:
– Smith Investments, LLC vs. Smith Investments, Inc.
– Apple Farm, LLC vs. Apple Farms, LLC
– Print Shop, LLC vs. The Print Shop, LLC
– Night & Day, LLC vs. Night and Day, LLC
– Peter Paul & Mary Studios, LLC vs. Peter-Paul-Mary Studios, Inc
– Three Teachers Consulting, LLC vs. 3 Teachers Consulting, LLC
Northwest ($39 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)
(check out Northwest vs LegalZoom)
Searching the South Carolina Name Database
To make sure your LLC name is distinguishable and available for use, you’ll need to search it in the South Carolina Business Filings Database.
1. Go to the Business Name Search page:
South Carolina Secretary of State: Business Name Search
2. Select “Begins with”, enter your desired LLC name, then click “Search”.
• Leave out the designator (“LLC”, “L.L.C.”, etc.) and leave out any punctuation, like periods, commas, hyphens, etc.
• Capitalization doesn’t matter. You can search in lowercase, uppercase, or a combination of lowercase and uppercase.
• To be thorough, on your first search, just enter the first word or two of your LLC name to ensure you see everything that is potentially similar.
For example: if your desired South Carolina LLC name is “Elite Fishing Company LLC”, just enter “elite fish” and hit “Search”. This way, you can see all of the existing companies that start with “Elite Fish…”
• To be even more thorough, on your second (or third) round of searches, just enter a part of the first word.
For example: if your desired South Carolina LLC name is “Printing Solutions LLC”, just enter “print” and hit “Search”. This way, you can see all of the existing companies in the printing industry.
3. Look at the search results:
• If you see “This name is available” and “No Results”, this means your desired South Carolina LLC name is available for use.
• If you see “This name is available” as well as other names appearing below, this means the state will approve your LLC, however, we recommend reading through the list. Although the state will approve your name, if your desired name is really similar to an existing company, you may want to come up with a new name or add a slight variation, to make sure your company/brand is truly unique.
• If you see “This name is currently being used“, this means your desired South Carolina LLC name is not available for use. You’ll need to think of a new name or use some creativity and come up with a unique variation. Keep redoing your search until you find an LLC name that is available.
Tip: If you’re not 100% sure that your desired LLC name is distinguishable, you can either call the state to clarify (803-734-2158), or you just file your paperwork with South Carolina anyway. If they reject your LLC name, they will send back your filing and let you know that the name needs to be changed.
Once you find an LLC name that is unique and distinguishable, you’re ready to select your LLC’s Registered Agent. We’ll discuss this in the next lesson: South Carolina Registered Agent.
And check out TRUIC’s business name generator if you need help coming up with an LLC name.
South Carolina Secretary of State Contact Info
If you have any questions, you can contact the South Carolina Secretary of State at 803-734-2158.