How to form an LLC in South Carolina

Update: January 2, 2024

By: Tom Macken

Start an LLC in South Carolina how-to

Golf. Beaches. Peaches and barbecue. South Carolina is known for many things including the infamous Carolina Reaper, the world’s hottest pepper.

You’ve chosen to create an LLC in South Carolina. Next steps? The price? Below are the processes, prices, and documents necessary for South Carolina enterprises.


1. Name Your South Carolina LLC
2. Select a South Carolina Registered Agent
3. File the Articles of Organization
4. Receive a Certificate From the State
5. Create an Operating Agreement
6. Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
7. File Biennial Reports
Costs and Next Steps

A limited liability corporation (LLC) provides small enterprises with indemnification and tax benefits, among other perks. If you’ve established that an LLC is the best company form for your purposes, take these steps to establish your South Carolina LLC.

You have the option of forming the LLC oneself or hiring a competent company formation service to handle the legwork.

1. Give Your South Carolina LLC a meaningful name

When choosing a name for your limited liability company in South Carolina, there are two main rules to follow:

  • The name of an LLC must be different from the identities of current business organizations on record with the Secretary of State of South Carolina.
  • The name of an LLC must include one of the words or abbreviations listed below: Limited Liability Company, Limited Company, LLC, L.L.C., or L.C. “Ltd.” and “Co.” are acceptable substitutes for “Limited” and “Company,” respectively.

Check availability of names

Perform a search utilizing the South Carolina Secretary of State’s Business Name Search to ensure that your desired LLC name is available in South Carolina.

Reserve your LLC name with the State Secretary

Before you submit articles of organization and formally organize your firm, it is a good idea to reserve the name of your limited liability company (LLC) with the South Carolina Secretary of State. This will prevent another company from using the name throughout the formation process.

Mail the Secretary of State’s Corporations Division an Application to Reserve a Limited Liability Company Name to reserve a name for up to 120 days. The application price for name reservation is $25.

2. Select a registered agent for South Carolina

Each South Carolina LLC is required to establish a local agent for execution of process. This is the person or organization that agrees to take legal documents on behalf of the LLC if it is sued.

The Registered Agent could be a person of South Carolina or a business licensed to do trade in South Carolina. It is required that the Registered Agent have a real, physical location in South Carolina.

What is the role of a Registered Agent?

A Registered Agent is some individual or indeed corporate body who receives vital tax forms, legal papers, notification of litigation, and formal government communication on your company’s behalf. Consider your registered agent as the point of communication between your firm and the state.

Who can serve as an agent?

A Registered Agent in South Carolina must be either an individual who resides in the state full-time or a South Carolina organization (such a Registered Agent service) that is licensed to do business there. You may choose anybody inside the organization, even yourself.

3. Submit the Articles of Incorporation

Your limited liability company (LLC) will be formally established after the Articles of Organization have been filed with the appropriate authorities. This paperwork formally registers your firm with the state, thus it is essential that all details are accurate.

What should be included in the Articles of Organization?

When completing the Articles of Organization for a South Carolina LLC, you should include:

  • LLC’s name
  • Duration of an LLC – perpetual or limited
  • Where the company’s main office is located The name and location of the registered agent for the company
  • Mailing address where official correspondence from the Secretary of State may be sent to the Limited Liability Company
  • Member-managed or manager-managed?
  • Whether the limited liability company will offer professional services
  • Identify each person who formed the limited liability company, and provide the contact information for a member or management who has firsthand experience with the business.
  • LLCs that do business in a different state from the one in which they were formed are considered “foreign” and must pay a “foreign LLC fee.”

Filing Your Organization’s Articles

There are several methods to submit your Organization’s Articles of Organization to the South Carolina Secretary of State.

Upload your files online. The Secretary of State website strongly recommends filling out forms online, claiming that doing so would speed up the application process and make it far less likely that your request will be denied. Furthermore, if you have to pause the procedure, you may save your documents and resume at a later time.

Send form submissions to: Office of the Secretary of State. Corporate Filings, 1205 Pendleton Street, Suite 525, Columbia, South Carolina 29201

When submitting tangible documents, two copies must be submitted. Your $110 payment must be made in the form of a check or cash order made out to the SC Secretary of State. Include a self-addressed, postage-paid return envelope.

In contrast, international LLCs are required to file a somewhat different version, the Application for a Certificate of Authority to Conduct Business. South Carolina levies both local and international businesses $110.

4. Obtain a State Certificate

If you desire a copy and pay the appropriate stamp, the state will send you a certificate confirming the LLC’s existence after the formation paperwork has been submitted and authorized.

With this document, the LLC may apply for tax IDs and licenses, as well as open a commercial bank account.

5. Create an Operating Agreement

Although not required by law when incorporating a company in South Carolina, it is highly advised that all new limited liability corporations write a complete operating agreement.

The agreement should stipulate:

  • Describe the business structure of the LLC
  • Establish the specific roles and obligations of the LLC’s members and describe the management structure
  • Without the need for an operating agreement defining the precise responsibilities of its members, a limited liability company may encounter substantial legal and practical challenges

6. Acquire a Taxpayer Identification Number (EIN)

An EIN, or tax ID number, is a federally issued identification number required by many LLCs. An EIN identities your company with the IRS and is required to pay national employer taxes, open a checking account (in most situations), and recruit workers.

The IRS’s website provides the tools you need to determine whether you require an EIN and submit an application. Most organizations are required to obtain an EIN, however single-member LLCs may use the owner’s Social Security number instead.

Business Licenses

Depending on their kind and location, some South Carolina-based LLCs may be needed to get one or more state or municipal business licenses or permits.

Consult the Secretary of State’s South Carolina Start a Company Guide for details on how to meet state business licensing requirements. Using South Carolina’s License Directory, specific licenses may be researched.

Local licensing requirements may be determined by contacting the municipal or county clerk in the jurisdiction where your LLC is situated.

7. Yearly Renewals

Unless they pay taxes as C Corporations, South Carolina limited liability companies are not obliged to submit an annual report. The yearly reports of South Carolina corporations are a part of the state’s corporate income tax.

If taxed as an S-Corporation or C-Corporation, you must submit an annual report by March 15 with the South Carolina Department of Revenue.

What are the costs and next steps?


The filing fee for the Articles of Organization is $110, and the charge for amending the Articles of Organization is similarly $110.

The cost to reserve a name is $25 if you are just interested in doing so temporarily. The cost to submit a notice of transfer of authorized executives or registered agents is $10.

Extra charges include:

  • Articles of dismissal: $10
  • Cost of filing for reinstatement following a company’s dissolution due to state administrative action: $25
  • Whenever the state must serve you: $10
  • First page of copying is $1, and each extra page is $0.50
  • Authentication of documents: $2 

Next Steps

Registering your LLC provides a legal basis for doing business. Businesses should intend to maintain a compliant and current status for their LLC on the state’s website.

Additionally, a registered LLC enables you to perform the following:

  • Acquire any required permissions or licenses, such as those from the health department, zoning authorities, the Department of Motor Vehicles, your local municipality, professional associations, and so on. Some states need a seller’s permission to conduct sales
  • File your business’s tax information with the appropriate state agency.
  • Make sure you have a business checking account, such as Bluevine or Novo.
  • Request a company credit card.
  • Purchase coverage for your company
  • Having a trademark in place might help you protect your business’s name and logo.
  • Do-it-yourself or use a professional agency to form an LLC?
  • It is not required by law to engage an attorney in order to incorporate an LLC. Most states enable LLC establishment by registering with the secretary of state and IRS (IRS).

LLC setup with a company formation service

If you’re not experienced with forming an LLC, it may be in your best interest to hire a professional LLC provider to help you get started.

When entrepreneurs start a new company, a professional agency specializing in company forms may save them time and money. They can take care of the things you haven’t had time to think about for as little as $50 and as much as $500 on items including:

  • Your firm’s who, what, where, when, why, and how will all be laid down in an operating agreement for your limited liability corporation (a mandatory requirement in certain states).
  • Creating organizational documents that include the registered agent, management, and date of establishment.
  • Assuming the role of your company’s registered agent.
  • Keeping meticulous records in the event of legal action or audits.
  • Filing fees and registration with the proper parties.
  • Registering your company name and ensuring the availability of the LLC name.
  • Registering your company name and confirming the availability of the LLC name.
  • Completing and submitting all formation and legal paperwork.


At what age can someone form a limited liability company in South Carolina?

There are no age restrictions for LLC management or members in South Carolina.

What are the South Carolina levies taxes on LLCs?

Businesses in South Carolina are exempt from paying a franchise tax. LLCs are “pass-through business entities” and not subject to corporation tax (unless they’ve elected to be taxed as a C-corporation). LLC owners include company gains in their personal tax returns.

How do you establish an LLC in South Carolina?

To set up an LLC in SC, you’ll need to pay the required filing fee, decide on an LLC name, appoint a Registered Agent, draft Articles of Organization and an Operating Agreement, and get an Employer Identification Number from the IRS.

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