South Carolina Business Name Search (LLC lookup) – 2024 Guide

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LLC names
A unique business name is important for branding, but it’s easy to get lost in all the South Carolina business name rules.

This page will teach you how to look up your LLC name and make sure it’s available to use.

South Carolina LLC name

If you file your South Carolina LLC paperwork with a name that is already used by another South Carolina business entity – or that doesn’t meet the South Carolina name rules – your filing may be rejected.

The first step to checking if your LLC name passes is to make sure your name is not already taken by another business.

You can do this using the Business Name Search (aka Business Entity Search). And you need to do this because two business entities in the state can’t have the same name or be too similar.

The second step is to make sure your LLC name follows the South Carolina Secretary of State’s rules, which we’ve broken down below.

How do I search the South Carolina business entity name database?

You can use the business entity search to search your business name against the existing business entities registered in South Carolina.

Note: This tool is sometimes called the South Carolina Business Name Search or the South Carolina Business Entity Search. They both refer to the same website and get you the same search records.

Visit the South Carolina Business Name Search page:

South Carolina Secretary of State: Business Name Search

It’s simple:

1. Select “Contains” for the search type in the dropdown menu.
2. Enter your desired LLC name in the search bar.
3. Click Search.

Screenshot with instructions on how to use the South Carolina Business Entity Search

Don’t click “Add New Entity” unless you’re ready to file your South Carolina LLC Articles of Organization.

Search tips:

  • Leave out “LLC”, “L.L.C.”, “Limited Liability Company”, etc., when doing your searches.
  • Leave out any commas, periods, apostrophes, etc.
  • You can search using uppercase or lowercase letters.


How to interpret the South Carolina LLC search results

If the results show names that are not too similar to yours (meaning yours is distinguishable), then your Limited Liability Company name is available for use.

  • Let’s keep using the example above. If your desired name is Riverwalk Studios LLC, and the only similar names you saw were “Riverwalk Rentals” and “Riverwalk Studio Starters”, then your name should be available.
Screenshot of sample results from the South Carolina Business Entity Search
Example of South Carolina Business Entity Search results

If no results show up, that means your LLC name is unique and it should be available for use. To be safe, run your search again using only part of your LLC name (to double-check that there are no similar names).

  • For example, search just the word “Riverwalk” instead of Riverwalk Studios.

If your exact LLC name appears in the list of search records, your LLC name is not available for use because another South Carolina business entity is already using it.

If the results show a name that is very similar to yours, your LLC name may not be available for use.

  • If your desired name is Riverwalk Studios LLC, and the search results show a “Riverwalk Studio”, then your name is not available.

What if my desired LLC name isn’t available?

If your name is not unique, you’ll need to come up with a variation or a different name for your LLC.

Tip: Wait until your LLC is approved before you apply for your LLC EIN Number or purchase any other marketing materials. This way you don’t spend money on business supplies you can’t use because your business name isn’t available.

South Carolina Secretary of State Contact Information

You can call the South Carolina Secretary of State to ask questions about whether your LLC name is available.

Representatives at the South Carolina Secretary of State can help you use the South Carolina Business Name Search. They can’t guarantee that your LLC name will be available when you file, however.

The Secretary of State phone number is 803-734-2158. Their hours are 8am to 5pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

South Carolina Limited Liability Company Name Requirements

As per Section 33-44-105 of the South Carolina LLC Act, there are a few rules and requirements for naming a South Carolina business entity that you need to know.

Do I have to use a comma in my LLC name?

No, you don’t have to. You can file your LLC name with or without a comma. Both versions are accepted by the Secretary of State.

For example: If your desired business name is Grandpa Joe’s, you can file it as:

  • Grandpa Joe’s LLC
  • Grandpa Joe’s, LLC

Or, instead of having “LLC” as your designator (ending), there are a few other options in South Carolina.

What designators (endings) can I use in my LLC name?

Your South Carolina LLC name must contain one of the following designators at the end:

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

The following designators are not allowed

Your South Carolina LLC can’t make itself sound like a South Carolina Corporation or any other business entity besides an LLC.

The following words and designators can’t be used anywhere in your LLC name:

  • Inc.
  • Corp.
  • Incorporated
  • Corporation
  • Cooperative

What words are not allowed in my South Carolina LLC name?

Your South Carolina LLC name can’t contain words and abbreviations that are restricted by law.

For example, you can’t make your LLC name sound like it’s a bank, part of the government or a government agency, or anything else that misleads the public.

You also can’t use words that are reserved for licensed professionals. These vary by state, but some common examples are accountants, architects, attorneys, dentists, and engineers.

For more information about restricted words for a South Carolina business entity, please contact the Secretary of State.

Your South Carolina business name must be distinguishable (unique)

When you use the South Carolina Secretary of State Business Name Search, you will compare your desired LLC name to existing businesses in the state.

If your name is not unique, you’ll need to come up with a variation or a different business name.

Below are rules and examples of LLC names that are not distinguishable.

Designators

Differences in designators (endings) don’t create distinguishability.

If your desired LLC name is Milk & Peaches LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found in the South Carolina Business Name Search results:

  • Milk & Peaches, Inc.
  • Milk & Peaches, Corp.
  • Milk & Peaches, Ltd. Liability Co.

Filler Words

Adding non-meaningful or filler words (the, a, an, and, &, of, or) won’t create distinguishability.

If your desired LLC name is Palmetto Farms LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:

  • The Palmetto Farms LLC
  • Of Palmetto Farms Inc.
  • Palmetto and Farms L.L.C.
  • Palmetto & Farms Corp

Plural or Singular Words and Possessive Words

Adding a letter “s” to make a word plural or possessive doesn’t create distinguishability.

If your desired LLC name is Boykin’s Spaniels LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:

  • Boykins Spaniels LLC
  • Boykin Spaniels Inc.
  • Boykin Spaniel, L.L.C.

Numerals or Spelled Out Numbers

Using numerals (like 5 or 101) instead of spelling out the number (like “five” or “one hundred and one”) doesn’t create distinguishability.

If your desired LLC name is 25 Wrens LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:

  • Twenty-Five Wrens LLC
  • Twenty 5 Wrens Inc.

What if my South Carolina business name is rejected?

If you file your South Carolina Articles of Organization (the document that creates your South Carolina LLC) and the business name is not available, don’t panic. The state will notify you and tell you why your filing was rejected.

You will just need to file again with a variation of your LLC name or a different LLC name.

South Carolina Business Name FAQs

Do I need a name reservation in South Carolina?

No, a name reservation isn’t required to form an LLC in South Carolina. It’s an unnecessary step and a waste of money.

You can just file your LLC’s Articles of Organization with your desired LLC name.

Does South Carolina require LLC in the name?

Yes. Your South Carolina LLC name must contain one of the allowable designators at the end. The most commonly used designators are:

  • LLC
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Ltd. Liability Co.
Does my South Carolina LLC need a DBA?

No, you’re not required to file a DBA (“Doing Business As”) for your business entity in South Carolina. In fact, South Carolina doesn’t register DBAs for LLCs.

A DBA lets your LLC conduct business under a name which is different from its true and legal name (the name on your Articles of Organization). But since South Carolina doesn’t register DBAs at the state or county level, there isn’t really a process to obtain a DBA for your South Carolina LLC.

Note: A South Carolina LLC doesn’t register for a “fictitious name” with the Secretary of State. In South Carolina, “fictitious names” are used only for foreign companies (that is, an LLC formed in another state) whose legal name is already taken in South Carolina.

How do I get a business domain name?

Once you’ve found a business name that you like, it’s a good idea to check if your domain name is available before forming your LLC.

You can search for available domain names with GoDaddy:

What does “distinguishability” mean?

Each business entity name must be “distinguishable upon the records” of the Secretary of State.

This means that no two businesses can operate with the same exact name. Said another way, if a business already exists with your desired LLC name, you can’t register your LLC with that name.

For example, let’s say you want to form an LLC called Goldenrod Landscapers LLC. But there is already a business in another town called Goldenrod Landscapers, Inc. Because your desired LLC name is the same as that existing South Carolina Corporation, it is not distinguishable. You can’t use it and must choose another name.

How do I come up with a business name?

Business names are important for branding and recognition. The name of your South Carolina LLC can be your company’s brand name, but it doesn’t have to be (please see the FAQ about DBAs above). Either way, picking a good LLC name is an important decision.

Here are some quick tips for coming up with business names:

  1. First, write down the features of your company and things that you want to be associated with.
  2. Then list out as many business names as you can think of. Don’t edit or analyze them. Just get as many names on the page as you can.
  3. Now go back and read through them. Write down any variations that come to mind.
  4. Next, set the list aside. Do something else, like go for a walk or get groceries, or sleep on it for the night. Then come back and review the list of names. As you go through it, write down additional ideas and variations.
  5. Read the whole list out loud. If you want, get input from friends, business partners, and family.
  6. Repeat the process: sleep on the ideas, write down new variations, read them out loud again.
  7. The best business name will often “rise off the page” and present itself. If it doesn’t, you can try this trick: Close your eyes and count to 10. When you get to 10, you must choose a name. When you open your eyes, force yourself to make a decision. Sometimes we know the best name deep in our subconscious, and this trick can help it come out. Trust yourself and go with what feels best.

For more tips, please see How to Choose an LLC Name.

Can I use the name of another South Carolina entity?

No. You can’t use the same name as another South Carolina business.

And it doesn’t matter what entity type it is – your LLC can’t have the same entity name as another corporation, LLC, or any other entity type.

You can’t use another business’s name even if the entity is in “delinquent” status on the South Carolina Secretary of State website.

But if a business is dissolved, they no longer have rights to that name. This means you can form an LLC with the same name.

How do I change my LLC name?

You can change your LLC’s name later by filing an Amendment form with the Secretary of State.

We have step-by-step instructions on how to change an LLC name in South Carolina.

How to start an LLC in South Carolina?

Here are the steps to starting an LLC in South Carolina:

  1. Choose an LLC name and make sure it’s available
  2. Choose who will be your South Carolina Registered Agent
  3. File the South Carolina LLC Articles of Organization
  4. Complete and sign an LLC Operating Agreement
  5. Get a Tax ID Number (EIN) from the IRS
  6. Open an LLC bank account
  7. Check whether you need a business or sales tax license in South Carolina

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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