South Carolina Incorporation Services
To start a corporation in South Carolina, you must file Articles of Incorporation and an Initial Report with the Secretary of State. You can file the document online or by mail. The documents cost a combined $135 to file. Once filed with the state, your Articles of Incorporation formally create your South Carolina corporation. However, to actually ready the corporation to do business, you must complete several additional steps.
Starting a South Carolina Corporation Guide:
South Carolina Corporation Filing Options
Skip the state fees! Get a South Carolina corporation and the best of our services today. Includes EIN, hassle-free maintenance, business address & mail forwarding, Privacy by Default®, local Corporate Guide® service, and everything you need to operate at full capacity.
Do It Yourself
Sign up for a free account and use our online tools to start your South Carolina corporation today. Includes South Carolina incorporation and maintenance walkthrough and company document creation. All for free.
Pay in Full
Includes South Carolina corporation, business address & free mail forwarding, Privacy by Default®, lifetime support from local Corporate Guides® and a year of registered agent service.
SC Articles of Incorporation Requirements
To form a South Carolina corporation, you must complete and file the Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State. See the document below and click on any number to see what information is required in the corresponding section.
Your name must include “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Company,” “Limited” or an abbreviation for one of these words. Tip: Most corporations keep it short and sweet with “Corp” or “Inc.”
This South Carolina street address is where legal notifications will be sent. Like all the info in your Articles, this address will become part of the permanent public record of your corporation. Tip: Hire Northwest as your registered agent, and our address will go here.
List either an individual South Carolina resident (like yourself) or a business (like Northwest). Your agent will also need to sign your Articles to indicate their consent to serve. Tip: We recommend Northwest.
For each class of shares, list how many shares you’re creating. If you have multiple classes of shares, you’ll also list the rights and limitations of each class.
When do you want your corporation to start? If you want to start your corporation on a specific date, you can list a start date up to 90 days in the future. Tip: Just want your South Carolina corporation to start right away? Skip this section.
Your incorporator is the person you authorize to submit your Articles of Incorporation. Incorporators must include their names, addresses and signatures. You must have at least one incorporator (but it doesn’t have to be anyone in your corporation). Tip: We’ll be your incorporator when you hire us to form your South Carolina corporation.
An attorney licensed to practice in South Carolina must sign to certify that the Articles comply with the South Carolina Code of Laws (§33-2). Tip: Save on steep attorney fees when you hire Northwest to incorporate—in addition to preparing your Articles, our attorney signs them. It’s all part of our South Carolina incorporation package.
How much does it cost to start a South Carolina corporation?
At least $135. This includes the $110 fee to submit your Articles and the $25 fee to submit your Initial Report. Filing online? Add on a $15 processing fee. Domestic corporations also need a South Carolina licensed attorney to sign their Articles. Unless you’re buddies with a local attorney, this can get pretty expensive.
At Northwest, we can have our South Carolina attorney sign your filing for $100. This does not constitute any legal advice or relationship with our attorney, but this is much cheaper than you can find anywhere else.
Hire Northwest to form your South Carolina corporation and your total, out-the-door cost is $475. This includes state fees, attorney signature, a full year of registered agent service, and loads of tools and forms to help launch your business.
What is a South Carolina Initial Report?
Any business in South Carolina that’s taxed as a corporation is required to file form CL-1, the South Carolina Initial Report. You file this form along with your Articles of Incorporation (the $25 fee is included in the $135 you pay to file your articles).
A lot of the information required on your Articles of Incorporation is repeated on this form, but you’ll also need to include some extra info such as your principal office address and the names and addresses of your directors and officers.
Northwest Registered Agent will complete and file your South Carolina initial report when you choose us to form your business and/or act as your South Carolina registered agent.
How long does it take to start a South Carolina corporation?
Create a South Carolina Business Entities Online account and file your Articles of Incorporation online for the fastest turnaround time of 2 days (although you’ll shell out an extra $15 for online processing). Note that you’ll still need an attorney signature.
If you’d rather save your $15 for a plate at Bessinger’s or Melvin’s, forgo online processing, and submit by mail. The downside? It takes a lot longer—you could end up waiting a 1-2 weeks for processing.
If you hire Northwest to start your corporation, we file online and typically have your South Carolina corporation formed within 4 business days.
Does a South Carolina corporation need a registered agent?
Yes, you must appoint a South Carolina registered agent. Your agent also has to sign your Articles of Incorporation and list a registered office (the address where they will accept legal notifications). Your agent can be a business or an individual South Carolina resident. You can even be your own registered agent—although it’s often more of a headache than people anticipate.
Being your own agent means being regularly available at your registered office during business hours. No one likes being stuck in the office. In addition to cabin fever, being tied to the desk makes its harder to run your business. You have a million things to do—and you can’t really tour a potential location or attend a business event without leaving your desk. What’s even more annoying is that your registered office address becomes part of the public record of your corporation, meaning it’s accessible to everyone—including data-sellers and busybodies.
A better option? Leave the worry and hurry to us. Our South Carolina office address will go in your Articles, so you can better keep your privacy. We’ll be ready and waiting to scan and send you any legal notifications the same day, leaving you free to run your business from anywhere—whether that’s the office or Myrtle Beach.
Create Bylaws for Your South Carolina Corporation
Do I need bylaws?
Absolutely. Your Articles of Incorporation get your business started, but bylaws are what get your South Carolina corporation organized.
Why are corporate bylaws important?
Your bylaws determine how decisions in your corporation are made—and who gets to make them. To create your bylaws, you’ll decide who’s on the board of directors, how long they’ll stay, and how they’ll be replaced. You’ll determine who your officers are and what their duties will be. You’ll decide the scope of each person’s authority—who can call a meeting or sign a contract. Because your bylaws answer these kinds of questions, your directors, officers and shareholders will depend on them. And people outside your business will ask to see your bylaws as well. Your bank will need assurance that you’re authorized to open an account for your business, and potential investors or partners will want to see how your corporation is organized before signing on to work with your business.
Do I have to write bylaws?
Bylaws are critical—which is why we give you free corporate bylaws when you hire Northwest to form your South Carolina corporation. We’ll give you other key forms as well, from resolutions to meeting minute templates. We’ve spent years refining and developing our forms to ensure our clients have everything they need (and don’t waste their time agonizing over paperwork). Take a look at the free corporate forms we provide to help corporations form and maintain their businesses.
Get an EIN for Your South Carolina Corporation
Do I have to get a tax ID number (EIN)?
Yes, you’ll need an EIN for both your federal tax filings and your state corporate income tax filings. The IRS issues EINs. You can apply for one at no cost directly from the IRS.
Or, if you’d rather not slog through IRS paperwork, hire Northwest to get your EIN for you. You don’t even need an extra form—just tick the box that says “EIN service” during checkout when you sign up for our South Carolina incorporation services.
Open a Bank Account for Your SC Corporation
To open a corporate bank account, you will need to bring the following to the bank:
- A copy of the South Carolina corporation’s Articles of Incorporation
- The South Carolina corporation’s bylaws
- The South Carolina corporation’s EIN
If your bylaws don’t specifically assign the power to open a bank account, you may also want to bring a corporate resolution to open a bank account that states that the person going to the bank is authorized by the business to open the account in the name of the corporation.
We recommend calling your bank ahead of time before going in and asking what their requirements are. Most banks don’t open corporate accounts nearly as frequently as personal accounts, so some bankers may be unfamiliar with their own bank’s requirements. As frustrating as that may be for you, calling ahead will help save you from being super annoyed when you walk into the bank.
Obtain a Business License
Does a South Carolina corporation need a business license?
The state itself doesn’t mandate a general business license. However, you’ll likely need a general license from either the city or county in which you’re operating.
For instance, cities like Greenville and Simpsonville—and counties like Richland County and Charleston County—all require businesses to obtain annual business licenses.
File South Carolina Corporation Reports
What is South Carolina’s Annual License Fee?
Corporations, including S corps, are subject to a yearly fee called the Annual License Fee. The fee is $15 plus 0.1% of your corporation’s capital and paid-in surplus. The minimum license fee is $25. The fee is due along with your corporate income tax each year (it’s reported on the same return).
Do South Carolina corporations file an Annual Report?
Yes, and like the Annual Fee, it’s bundled together with the state’s corporate income tax return SC 1120(C Corp) OR SC1120S(S Corp). The Annual Report is Schedule D (page 3 of both forms), and requires you to update your contact, ownership, and share information.
How much does a corporation in South Carolina cost each year?
A minimum of $25 for the Annual License Fee.
Pay Corporate Taxes
What are the taxes for a South Carolina corporation?
South Carolina corporations pay a net income tax rate of 5%.
The state sales tax rate is 6%, but there are typically local sales tax rates as well. To get an idea of what customers actually pay at the counter, below are the total sales tax rates for the 5 largest cities in South Carolina:
North Charleston: 9%
Mount Pleasant: 9%
Rock Hill: 7%