Can you use a DBA in South Carolina? DBA stands for “doing business as,” and states like South Carolina allow some businesses to operate under a DBA, or different name. You may also hear DBAs referred to as:

  • South Carolina Assumed Business Name.
  • South Carolina Alternate Name.
  • South Carolina Business Name.
  • South Carolina Assumed Name.
  • South Carolina Trade Name.
  • South Carolina Fictitious Name.

Individual sole proprietors who want to conduct business under a different name than their legal one will be required to register their DBA name with the specific county clerks in South Carolina where they plan to conduct business. LLCs or corporations who want to conduct business under a different name from what is on file with the South Carolina Secretary of State will also need to register their DBA with the county clerks in the specific counties where they plan to conduct business.

Requirements to Register Your DBA

As previously mentioned, you must register your DBA with the specific counties where you plan to do business. You would visit the county clerk's office in each county. DBAs cannot be registered at the secretary of state's office.

LLCs and corporations must be in good standing with the secretary of state prior to registering their DBA. The most reliable way to verify status is to get a Certificate of Good Standing from their office. It is not a requirement to form an LLC or corporation prior to registering for a DBA in South Carolina.

It's important to understand that reserving a company name with the South Carolina Secretary of State is a different process than registering a DBA in the state. Registering a DBA is for an existing business, whereas reserving a name is for a business that has not been formed yet. It also differs from legally registering your LLC or corporation with the secretary of state. Registering your LLC or corporation there means there are administrative and tax obligations that must be current in order for the business to be in good standing. If you fail to adhere to the requirements, the state could dissolve your business.

What to Know About Registering a DBA

A South Carolina DBA registration is not forever — it will come with an expiration date. The date of expiration will vary between counties. Be sure to renew it before the expiration date if you want to keep it for your business.

If your LLC or corporation was formed in a different state and your business name is being used by a different South Carolina corporation that is active, then you must register a DBA name that differs from your company name with the secretary of state.

People often opt for a DBA because they do not want to use their legal name in business-related activities. To verify whether the name you want has already been registered by a corporation, you can check on the South Carolina Secretary of State website.

Registering a DBA won't give you any added liability protection. Your liability will be based on your organization type. A sole proprietor with a DBA would still be personally liable beyond any insurance coverage.

Tax ID and Licenses

If you plan to open a bank account in your DBA name, the bank will ask for a tax identification number. Your personal tax ID number is your Social Security number, which may work if you do not have any employees in your business. If you employ others, operate as a partnership or corporation, and meet certain tax requirements, you must have a separate tax ID number. This is called your Employer Identification Number, or EIN. Look on the IRS website to determine whether you need to apply for one.

Certain types of businesses may also be required to have proper licenses and permits. Depending on what kind of bank account you are trying to open, you may have to show proof you are in compliance with local regulations. Depending on the license type, they are issued at different locations:

  • Professional licenses: South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation.
  • Retail Licenses: South Carolina Department of Revenue.

Steps to Filing DBA

  • Check whether the name or similar is taken and there are no trademark issues through Business Filing Search on the secretary of state's website and the U.S. Patent Office's TESS System.
  • Contact the South Carolina Business One Stop System to get the forms.
  • Read everything carefully before filling in forms or submitting.
  • Complete SCBOS process or mail a hard copy, which may require notarization.

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