South Carolina LLC
To start an LLC in South Carolina, you must file Articles of Organization with the South Carolina Secretary of State. You can file the document online or by mail. The Articles of Organization cost $110 ($125 online) to file. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your South Carolina LLC. However, to actually ready the LLC to do business, you must complete several additional steps.
Everything You Need to Know About South Carolina LLCs:
South Carolina LLC Formation Options
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How to Start an LLC in South Carolina
To start an LLC in South Carolina, you’ll need to do three things: appoint a registered agent, choose a name for your business, and file Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. You can file the document online or by mail. The articles cost $110 to file by mail or $125 to file online. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your South Carolina LLC.
According to South Carolina Code of Laws § 33-44-108 (2019), every South Carolina LLC must appoint a registered agent (also called an “agent for service of process”). You don’t need to hire a registered agent, but if you do, make sure your registered agent will list their address on your articles wherever possible to ensure maximum privacy.
If you’re starting a new business, you probably already know what you want to name your LLC. But you’ll need to know if your preferred name is available. To find out, visit the South Carolina Business Name Search and search until you find the perfect name for your LLC.
Once you know who your registered agent will be and what your LLC name is, you’re ready to file your South Carolina Articles of Organization. Follow along with our filing instructions below:
Filing the South Carolina LLC Articles of Organization
Learn more about each Articles of Organization requirement below. Note that the information you provide becomes part of the public record—permanently.
Or skip the form entirely and hire us to form your South Carolina LLC. We provide a free business address to list whenever possible throughout the filing to better keep your personal address private. Prefer to start a business on a budget? Pay just $49 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option.
1. Company Name
Your name must include “Limited Liability Company,” “Limited Company,” or an abbreviation. Most businesses keep it short and sweet and use “LLC.”
2. Initial Designated Office
This is the official street address of your South Carolina LLC. Hire Northwest and you can use our Charleston, SC address as your initial office and better keep your personal address off public records.
3. Agent for Service of Process
Your South Carolina registered agent, also referred to as an agent for service of process, must have a physical address in the state. You can list an individual (like yourself) or a business that provides this service (like Northwest).
4. South Carolina LLC Organizer
Your organizer is the person you authorize to form and file your Articles of Organization. It doesn’t have to be anyone in the LLC, but the organizer does have to list their name and address. Hire Northwest, and we’ll be your organizer—and our address will be listed on this permanent public doc instead of yours.
You can skip this section if you want your LLC to continue indefinitely. However, if you want your LLC to be a “term company,” you can write in the length of time you want your LLC to exist.
6. LLC Management
LLCs can be managed by members (owners) or managers. Most LLCs are managed by members who share decision-making powers. If you don’t plan to run the day-to-day operations of your business, you can turn decision-making powers over to one or more managers instead. If you choose to have managers, you must list the name and address of each manager.
7. Member Liability
While one of the benefits of an LLC is limited liability (it’s even in the name!), if you want one or more members to be liable for specific debts or obligations, you can tick this box. This section is optional.
8. Effective Date
Starting your LLC now? Skip this section. Prefer a future start date? Write in a date up to 90 days in the future.
9. Extra Provisions
Do you have any provisions which you want to include in your articles, such as business purpose? You can include an attachment with desired provisions, as long as they are allowable by law.
10. Organizer Signature
The final section asks for signatures from your LLC’s organizer(s). We’ll sign and date your articles if you hire us.
Why Have a Registered Agent Form Your South Carolina LLC?
Professionals in South Carolina hire registered agent services like Northwest Registered Agent to start an LLC—but why?
Standard filing companies don’t have employees or offices in every state. But as a national registered agent, it’s a requirement for us, which is a benefit for our clients. Our office is located in historic Charleston, SC. We’re on a first name basis with the people who work in South Carolina’s Secretary of State office. We know all the fastest filing methods, which translates to fast, professional service—without extra fees.
As your registered agent, we list our Charleston registered office address on your LLC’s formation documents. Why? If you’re starting a business from your apartment in Clemson, do you really want your apartment address as your business address? (Hint: the answer is no.) We’ll list our address, so you don’t have to list yours. Plus, we never sell your data. We don’t list your personal information on filings if we don’t have to. It’s all standard and part of our commitment to Privacy by Default®.
Free Mail Forwarding, Business Address and More
At Northwest, we do everything a registered agent should do and more. You can list our address as your business address on your state filings. We include limited digital mail forwarding with registered agent service (up to 5 pieces of regular mail per year; $15 a doc after that).
Plan on accepting credit cards? We also offer a Free Credit Card Processing Consultation. Our specialists work with processors to negotiate low rates and better contracts for our clients.
And now, try our in-house Northwest Phone Service for 60 days, free of charge with our formation service. Get a virtual phone number with your choice of area code, make and receive calls from any device, and more—for just $9 a month.
We know the in’s and out’s of each state—and we use this knowledge to help you when you need it most. Our team of Corporate Guides® has over 200 local business experts. You can call or email us for answers to all your questions about your LLC in South Carolina. Our Corporate Guides are dedicated solely to helping you with your business—not selling you services or meeting quotas.
What Do I Do After My South Carolina LLC Is Formed?
After your South Carolina Articles of Organization are approved, you still have a few more important steps to take, including getting an EIN, drafting an operating agreement, opening a bank account, funding the LLC and learning about state reporting and tax requirements.
Get an EIN
An EIN (“Employer Identification Number”) is a federal tax ID assigned to your business by the IRS. The IRS uses your EIN to easily identify your business on tax filings.
Does a South Carolina LLC need an EIN?
Hiring employees? You’ll need an EIN. Filing certain federal excise taxes (like Alcohol/Tobacco/Firearms returns)? You’ll need an EIN. Plan to open a bank account? You’ll almost certainly need an EIN. A variety of local forms—from tax filings to business license applications—will need your EIN as well. In some cases, you can use your personal social security number instead, but that just puts your personal information unnecessarily at risk. There’s no fee to get an EIN directly from the IRS, so you might as well get one, even if you don’t think you’ll need it right away.
How do I get an EIN for my LLC?
You can apply for an EIN directly from the IRS at no cost. Most businesses are able to apply online, but if you don’t have a social security number, you’ll need to apply with a paper form. Want one less thing to do? Add on EIN service when you hire us, and we’ll get your EIN for you. Or choose our VIP service—an EIN is included.
Write an LLC Operating Agreement
Operating agreements put into writing how your business actually operates—how much each member invested, how profits and losses will be allocated, how voting works, and what happens if there’s a dispute or if the whole business (knock on wood) falls apart.
Do I need an operating agreement for a South Carolina LLC?
While South Carolina law doesn’t declare that LLC members must have an operating agreement, SC Code § 33-44-112 (2019) helps lay out exactly what an operating agreement can regulate and why an operating agreement is so important.
Your operating agreement is the single most important internal document for your South Carolina LLC. Consider this—you don’t typically have to publicly list your members in your articles or in any kind of annual report. So, how would anyone know who was actually a member or even the owner of your LLC other than going by their word? Although it’s a private, internal document, your operating agreement holds legal weight and fills in these blanks. It lists who owns the company and who invested what. It also includes important procedures, like how profits and losses will be allocated and what happens if you shut it all down.
What should be in an operating agreement?
An operating agreement should explain how the business will handle “big picture” situations—everything from allocating profits and losses to dissolving the business. Below is a list of common topics that operating agreements should cover.
Profits, losses, and distributions
Voting rights, decision-making powers, and management
Transfer of membership interest
Dissolving the business
Your operating agreement can cover pretty much anything as long as it isn’t contrary to South Carolina law. For instance, South Carolina statute §33-44-103 states that LLC members cannot unreasonably restrict a right to information or access to records by a member, nor can they eliminate the obligation of good faith and fair dealing under South Carolina law.
How do I write an operating agreement?
To write an operating agreement, you need to address how your business will handle money, members, votes, management, and more. Not sure how to get started? At Northwest, we’re here to help your LLC get off on the right foot. When you hire us, we provide your business with a free LLC operating agreement, specific to your management style. We’ve spent years developing these agreements and other free LLC forms—which have been used by over a million LLCs.
Open an LLC Bank Account
Your LLC needs its own bank account. Why? An LLC gets its limited liability from being a distinct entity, separate from its members. If you mix personal and business finances, you could lose your liability protections.
How do I open a bank account for my South Carolina LLC?
To open a bank account for your South Carolina LLC, you will need to bring the following with you to the bank:
A copy of the South Carolina LLC Articles of Organization
The LLC operating agreement
The LLC’s EIN
If there are multiple members in the LLC, you may also want to bring an LLC resolution to open a bank account that states that the person going to the bank is authorized by the members to open the account in the name of the LLC. Northwest can help with this as well—LLC bank resolutions are one of the many free legal forms we provide to ensure you can get your LLC started fast.
Fund the LLC
Time to put some money in that new LLC bank account. What money? For starters, your initial contributions to your LLC’s capital. LLC members are owners, and each owner needs to pay for their membership interest to fund the LLC.
What is membership interest?
Membership interest is your percentage of ownership of the LLC. Membership interest is normally proportionate to your investment. So how does this work?
Imagine your LLC has 5 members. 4 members each invest $1,000 in the business. One member invests $6,000. The total contribution of all members is $10,000. The 4 members each own 10% of the business. The moneybags member who shelled out $6,000 owns 60% of the business.
Typically, this also means that the 4 members would each get 10% of any profits, and moneybags would get 60%. Exactly how profits and losses are allocated, however, can be adjusted in the operating agreement as long as changes are in line with IRS requirements and South Carolina laws.
File South Carolina Reports & Taxes
Depending on how your business is taxed, there’s a chance your South Carolina LLC will need to file initial and annual reports. South Carolina LLCs are also subject to state tax filing requirements.
How much is the South Carolina Annual Report fee?
Most South Carolina LLCs won’t need to file a South Carolina Annual Report. However, if your LLC elects to be taxed as an S or C Corp, then you must file an Initial Annual Report of Corporations (Form CL1) with the South Carolina Department of Revenue. Afterwards, you must continue to file an annual report. There is a minimum $25 filing fee for both (initial and annual) reports.
When is the South Carolina Annual Report due?
If your LLC has elected to be taxed as an S or C Corp, then your South Carolina Annual Report is due March 15th.
When you sign up for Northwest, we send you reminders for your annual report due dates. Want one less thing to worry about? With our business renewal service, we can complete and submit your annual report for you for $100 plus the state fee.
What should I know about South Carolina LLC taxes?
State sales tax is 6%, but cities, counties and special rates can increase the total possible sales tax by as much as 3% in cities like Charleston. South Carolina has some of the lowest property and gas taxes in the nation. By most standards, South Carolina is right in the middle with regards to taxation. You’ll find lower rates in some states, and much higher rates in others.
Personal net income tax rates for South Carolina:
0%: $0 to $3,069
3%: $3,070 to $6,149
4%: $6,150 to $9,229
5%: $9,230 to $12,309
6%: $12,310 to $15,399
However, income from a pass-through entity like your LLC is typically taxed at a flat 3% on each member’s personal return, thanks to the South Carolina Income Tax Act.
South Carolina LLC FAQs
How can I submit the South Carolina LLC Articles of Organization?
You can file South Carolina articles online or by mail. Mailed filings must be submitted in duplicate to the following address:
South Carolina Secretary of State’s Office
Attn: Corporate Filings
1205 Pendleton Street, Suite 525
Columbia, SC 29201
How much does it cost to start a South Carolina LLC?
The filing fee for your South Carolina LLC Articles of Organization is $110 if you file by mail. If you file online they add a $15 processing fee.
Hire Northwest for a one-time fee of $350, including state filing fees, a year of registered agent service, limited mail forwarding and loads of useful forms and tools to help get your South Carolina LLC up and running. Or, pay just $49 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option.
How long does it take to start a South Carolina LLC?
The fastest way is to file online. You’ll receive your approved articles in 1-2 business days. Sure you’ll save $15 if you file by mail, but time is money, and it can take a couple weeks for the Secretary of State to manually enter all your data and process your filing.
Or just hire Northwest to start your LLC. We’ll file online and will have your South Carolina LLC formed within 2 business days.
Does a South Carolina LLC need a business license?
South Carolina doesn’t have a general, statewide business license, but there are a few common, state-level licenses that many businesses need, such as a retail sales tax license from the South Carolina Department of Revenue.
Cities and counties have their own requirements as well. For example, Jasper and Charleston Counties both require a general business license. If you are going to be selling food, roofing houses, or involved in transportation, you’ll need to get a business license. In fact we think it is best for every South Carolina LLC to spend some time researching whether or not their business needs special licensing. Better to be safe and legal than sorry and fined.
Need an EIN or a certified copy of your formation docs for your license applications? Northwest can help. You can easily add on these items to your LLC formation order.
Can a South Carolina LLC help me live more privately?
The main purpose of an LLC is to protect your personal assets. However, as the world grows more public, privacy becomes an important commodity. A South Carolina LLC can help keep your name and personal information a bit more private. At Northwest, we let you use our name and address on all of your public filings so that you can keep yours as private as possible. Check out our page on living privately with an LLC to learn more.
What is a foreign South Carolina LLC?
A foreign South Carolina LLC is any LLC formed outside of South Carolina but registered to do business in the state. For example, if you formed an LLC in Georgia but wanted to conduct business in South Carolina as well, you would register as a foreign LLC in South Carolina by filing a Certificate of Authority with the state. South Carolina charges a filing fee of $110 when you submit your application for foreign qualification. Online filings cost an extra $15 but include a faster turnaround time. Northwest can register your foreign South Carolina LLC for you today!
How can I get a South Carolina phone number for my LLC?
It’s a conundrum: you need a local number to display on your website and give to customers, but you don’t want to make your personal number quite so…public. We get it. And we’ve got you covered with Northwest Phone Service. We can provide you with a virtual phone number in any state—plus unlimited call forwarding and tons of easy-to-use features. You can try Phone Service free for 60 days when you hire us to form your LLC, and maintaining service is just $9 monthly after that. No contract required.
How to Order LLC Formation Service
Our South Carolina LLC formation service is designed to be fast and easy—signing up takes just a couple minutes. Here’s how it works:
With Northwest, we give you flexibility on how to pay. You can pay all the fees up front (this includes one full year of registered agent service). Or, pay just $48 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option. With our VIP option, we also include an EIN. Just choose one of the buttons below, answer a few easy questions about your business and submit your payment.
We’ll prepare your South Carolina Articles of Organization and send them to the Secretary of State, for approval. In the meantime, you’ll have immediate access to your online account, where you can find useful state forms, pre-populated with your business information.
Once the South Carolina Secretary of State has approved your filing, we notify you that your South Carolina LLC has been legally formed. You can now take any necessary next steps, like getting an EIN and opening a bank account.