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Start an LLC in South Carolina

Use our free business tools below to complete your South Carolina LLC Articles of Organization. This is the document you file directly with the South Carolina Secretary of State to form your LLC.

If you want more, hire us to form your LLC in South Carolina for just $39 + state fees. We’ll get your business stood up in minutes with a free domain, website, email, business phone, and more.

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How to Start an LLC in South Carolina

The most important thing starting a South Carolina LLC does is protect the personal assets of its owners from a lawsuit or bankruptcy. LLCs also offer a flexible management structure and pass-through taxation, for $110 ($125 if you file online). As a bonus, there are no LLC annual reports to file in South Carolina, which saves you time and money.

To start an LLC, you fill out paperwork—called South Carolina Articles of Organization—and submit it to the South Carolina Secretary of State. You can do it yourself or hire someone (like us) to do it for you. There are also several other steps you’ll need to take to fulfill requirements with the federal government, strengthen your liability protection, and protect your privacy. Here’s how to do it.

 

1. Name Your LLC

You can’t start an LLC without first giving it a name. Your first step should be to check with South Carolina’s Business Name Search to see if your LLC name is available. If another business is using your preferred name, you’ll have to find another. From there you’ll need to make sure your name follows South Carolina’s naming laws (S.C. Code § 33-44-1205).

Your LLC name must:

  • Include an approved indicator like “LLC,” “limited,” or “company.”
  • Be “distinguishable” (unique) among registered and reserved business names in South Carolina.

Tip: Not ready to form your LLC, but want to make sure no one else takes your super cool business name? File an Application to Reserve a Limited Liability Company Name with South Carolina’s Secretary of State and pay the $25 filing fee to reserve your LLC name for 120 days.

2. Register Your Domain Name

A domain name is the address of your website (ours is northwestregisteredagent.com). Since there’s a pretty good chance you’ll want your business to have an online presence, it just makes sense to register a domain name now, not later. Here are few reasons to get a domain now:

  • Lock down your domain name. Registering a domain now, and not later, allows you to make sure the name you want is available as a business name and as a domain name. If it’s not available, you can find alternatives. It’s a lot easier to change your LLC’s name before you file official paperwork with the state.
  • Project professionalism. Securing a domain name now will allow you to set up a business email address using your domain (example: [email protected]). You’ll be able to email clients and vendors, keep your personal email private, and look professional doing it.

Tip: Hire Northwest to form your South Carolina LLC, and you’ll get a domain name, free for the first year.

3. File South Carolina LLC Articles of Organization

Articles of Organization is the name of the form you’ll submit to South Carolina’s Secretary of State. Your LLC will become official once the state approves your paperwork. But you want to make sure you get it right. Otherwise, they’ll reject your paperwork and you’ll be back at square one. Here’s the information you’ll need for your South Carolina Articles of Organization.

Company Name

This is the LLC name you plan to register with the state. You’ll need to include “limited liability company” or an abbreviation like “LLC.” Remember, it can’t be the same or similar to other LLC names in the state.

Registered Agent Address

This is where you’ll list the address of your South Carolina registered agent. A registered agent is someone appointed to accept legal mail—called service of process—on behalf of your LLC. Appointing a registered agent is a legal requirement for all South Carolina LLCs.

The duties of a registered agent are defined in S.C. Code § 33-5-101. In a nutshell, your registered agent must:

  • Have a physical address in South Carolina.
  • Be present at that address during regular business hours (9am to 5pm).
  • Accept legal mail on behalf of your business and get it to you quickly.

You can serve as your own registered agent, but that means your name and address will go on South Carolina’s public record. That’s not ideal if you want to maintain your privacy. When you hire Northwest, we’ll list our name and business address on all South Carolina LLC filings allowable, keeping your name and address out of the public eye.

Registered Agent Name

This is the person (or company) that you’ve appointed (or hired) to accept important legal mail for your business. Like we said, you can list your name here if you don’t mind your private information being broadcast on public record. Or learn how Northwest can help you live privately with your LLC.

Organizer Information

Your organizer is the person who completes and submits your South Carolina Articles of Organization. This doesn’t have to be someone involved with your LLC. However, your organizer’s information will become public record. If you hire Northwest, we’ll be your organizer and list our information here.

Term (Optional)

If you want your LLC to dissolve after a set amount of time, check the box and specify the length of time here. If you don’t have a set end date in mind, skip it.

Management

Check the box if your LLC will be manager-managed. LLCs are either member-managed or manager-managed. In a member-managed LLC, the members (owners) will be in charge of the day-to-day operations. In a manager-managed LLC, members hire managers to run the LLC. Managers are in charge of regular business tasks like hiring and firing employees, managing credit and bank accounts, and signing agreements and contracts.

Check out our LLC Member vs Manager page to learn more about your LLC management options.

Manager Information

If the LLC is manager-managed, you’ll need to list the name and address of each manager. Note: This information also becomes part of the public record.

Liability

Check this box to make any members personally liable. Hint: Most LLCs skip.

Effective Date (Optional)

If you want, you can delay the start of your LLC for up to 90 days. Hint: Most LLCs skip.

Extra Provisions (Optional)

Attach anything extra (for example, a business purpose) here.

Organizer Signature

Each person (organizer) completing and submitting this form must sign and date the form. If you hire Northwest, we’ll sign for you.

 

How do you “file” South Carolina Articles of Organization?

You can submit your Articles of Organization to the South Carolina Secretary of State online ($125) or by mail ($110). Mailed filings are required to include two copies of your Articles (each signed by your organizer).

Mail:
South Carolina Secretary of State’s Office
Attn: Corporate Filings
1205 Pendleton Street, Suite 525
Columbia, SC 29201

Online:
South Carolina Online Filing System

Tip: Filing online is the way to go. Online filings are approved within two business days. Mailed filings can take up to two weeks to be approved (add in additional time for mailing).

4. Adopt an Operating Agreement

South Carolina does not require LLCs to have an operating agreement, but you’d be wise to draw one up. That’s because your LLC’s operating agreement acts as a road map for every scenario your business is likely to face. Your operating agreement should focus on big-picture issues like distribution of profits, initial investments, removing a member, and even what to do when it’s time to close the business.

Tip: Keep it simple and use our attorney-approved South Carolina Operating Agreement template.

5. Get an EIN

An EIN (employer identification number) is like a social security number, but for businesses instead of individuals. The IRS will use your LLC’s EIN to identify it on tax filings. Getting an EIN is also an important step in setting up a business bank account or if you plan to hire employees.

You can get an EIN from the IRS for free by filing online, by mail, phone, and even fax. Filing online is fastest, but you’ll need to file by mail if you don’t have a social security number. If you’d rather focus on getting down to business, hire Northwest, and we’ll get your EIN for you.

6. Get a Business Bank Account

Opening a bank account specifically for your business is a must. If you mingle your personal and business finances, your personal assets could be vulnerable to a lawsuit or bankruptcy. A court could find that the owners of the LLC and the business itself are not separate entities because they didn’t take the step to separate finances.

To open a business bank account you’ll need a copy of your South Carolina Articles of Organization, your LLC’s EIN, your operating agreement, and if your LLC has multiple members, an LLC Resolution to Open a Bank Account.

7. File State Reports & Taxes

While most states require LLCs to file an annual report and pay a filing fee, South Carolina gives most LLCs a break. Unless you’ve elected to have your LLC taxed as an S-Corp or C-Corp, you won’t have to worry about filing an annual report for your South Carolina LLC.

What about South Carolina LLC taxes?
South Carolina LLCs are taxed as pass-through entities. This means that the LLC’s profits will “pass through” to each member’s personal tax return. Profits earned by you LLC are subject to the federal self-employment tax rate of 15.3%. Your LLC will also need to pay state and local taxes on sales made in South Carolina.

8. File Your BOI Report

New in 2024, your LLC will also need to file a Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) Report within 90 days of formation. Your BOI Report requires you to disclose identifying information about your company applicant as well as its beneficial owners to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

Tip: Don’t feel like dealing with the paperwork? Hire us to file for you for just $9.

*This is informational commentary, not advice. This information is intended strictly for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel. This information is not intended to create, nor does your receipt, viewing, or use of it constitute, an attorney-client relationship. More information is available in our Terms of Service.

Let’s Set Up Your South Carolina LLC!