How to Start an LLC in South Carolina
Located in the southeastern U.S. and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, North Carolina and Georgia, South Carolina is a state well-known for its Southern history, heritage and culture, natural beauty and healthy economy.
If you want to start your own business in South Carolina, one of the best ways to do so is by forming a South Carolina LLC. Limited liability companies (LLCs) are a business entity designed for startups and small- and medium-sized businesses. South Carolina LLCs give you many of the protections and advantages of larger corporations without all the rules, regulations and compliance issues common to larger business entities.
Briefly, the benefits of starting a South Carolina LLC include:
- Separating and limiting your personal liability from your business liability and debts
- Quick and simple filing, management, compliance, regulation and administration of your South Carolina LLC
- Easy tax filing and potential advantages for your tax treatment
Learn more about the benefits of the LLC business structure here.
Six Quick Steps to Forming Your South Carolina LLC
This guide has plenty of information on how to form your South Carolina LLC, but you can break down the basics of forming a business in SC into just a few simple steps.
STEP 1: Gather Information for Your Members
First, you need to gather basic information about your LLC, including the names and addresses of the managers or members. The LLC members are typically the people who own and run the business. They are also the ones who can take profits out of the business to pay themselves.
STEP 2: Choose a Unique Business Name
You will need a distinctive and original name for your LLC that’s not used by any other business in SC. To find out if another company is using your chosen business name, carry out a business entity name search on the SC Secretary of State website.
There are a few rules you’ll need to follow when choosing an LLC name. You can find out more in our guide to naming your South Carolina LLC.
Learn about South Carolina LLC business naming rules.
STEP 3: Provide an Official Address for Your SC LLC
Every South Carolina LLC must have a designated street address. That could be your home address (if you’re running the company from your residence), your company’s office building or any physical address of your preference. The address must be inside the state of South Carolina, but it cannot be a P.O. Box.
STEP 4: Assign a South Carolina Registered Agent
Every SC LLC must have a “Registered Agent.” This is an official position; the Registered Agent is someone who receives official legal and tax correspondence and has responsibility for filing reports with the South Carolina Secretary of State.
This position can be filled by you, another manager in the business or a dedicated Registered Agent service. Your Registered Agent must have a physical street address in South Carolina and must be present to receive important documents for your company during business hours.
At Incfile, all of our packages include a South Carolina Registered Agent service that is free for the first year and just $119 per year afterward. We also have a dashboard where you can log in and easily view any document your Registered Agent has received on your behalf.
Learn more about South Carolina Registered Agents.
STEP 5: Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service
You will need an EIN to identify your business with the IRS. You use this number when filing and paying taxes or when submitting payroll information and payments for your employees. You can obtain one directly from the IRS, or we can get one for you as part of the South Carolina LLC business formation process.
STEP 6: File Articles of Organization with the South Carolina Secretary of State
Once you've gathered all the information for your LLC, you’ll need to file a formal document with the SC Secretary of State. This document is known as your “Articles of Organization,” and filing the document creates your South Carolina LLC. Here’s what is typically included:
- Your business name and address
- Details of your Registered Agent
- Names of managers or members of the LLC at the time of filing
- Addresses of managers or members of the LLC at the time of filing
- Name of the incorporator
You can file your South Carolina Articles of Organization online, mail in a form or have Incfile do it on your behalf. There is a fee to file and start an LLC in South Carolina, but you only need to file your Articles of Organization once.
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Additional Information from the South Carolina Secretary of State
The Secretary of State has plenty of other information on forming and running a business in South Carolina. You’ll find other useful information below.
Foreign LLCs in South Carolina
If your business is already operating in another state and expanding to South Carolina, you’ll need to form a foreign LLC.
More information on South Carolina filing and licensing requirements here
Other Information in This Guide
You’ll find plenty more insight and guidance on the other pages of this guide, including:
How to search the South Carolina business registry of the Secretary of State and find the right name. Includes information on naming rules, fictitious names, reserving a South Carolina LLC name and more.
How to appoint a Registered Agent to your new LLC or change to a different Registered Agent. Includes information on Registered Agent rules and searching forSouth Carolina Registered Agents.
How to understand the various fees you’ll need to pay and the requirements you’ll need to meet for both federal and South Carolina rules. Includes details of Employer Identification Numbers (EINs), South Carolina and federal business licenses, annual reports and more.
How to understand the various taxes you will need to pay to the federal and South Carolina government. Includes details of federal taxes like income and self-employment, and South Carolina taxes like sales tax and income tax.
What to Do After Registering Your South Carolina LLC
Want to know your next steps after creating a new LLC in South Carolina? Here’s our guide to understanding your ongoing requirements, setting up new bank accounts, protecting your business name, getting accounting in place and more.