1. Name Your LLC
2. Follow the Naming Guidelines
3. Trademark Registration
4. Choose a Registered Agent
5. File the Articles of Organization

Forming an LLC in SC can be a very complicated process if you don't know where to start, what steps to take and in what order. If you follow the outlined steps, forming an LLC will seem like a breeze.

Name Your LLC

First and foremost, you must choose a name for your limited liability company (LLC). Perform enough research to guarantee that your preferred name fits your business and that it is easily searchable by your future clients. Do a name search on the state's website to make sure that your chosen name isn't currently in use.

To be approved, your LLC name must be distinct from the names of other LLCs in South Carolina. Providing the Secretary of State with two copies of a completed “Application to Reserve Name” form along with a $25 fee, you can reserve your LLC name for a period of 120 days.  If you are ready to submit your Articles of Organization, you don't need to reserve your LLC name.

Checking LLC name availability is important because it will allow you to purchase a domain name for your company. Buying a domain name is crucial, even if you're not ready to build your website. With your domain name reserved, you can stop your competitors from acquiring your desired web address. When you're selecting a name for your LLC, it's a good idea to consider your possible email address.

Follow the Naming Guidelines

The names of South Carolina LLCs must include the common abbreviations "LLC" or "L.L.C." or the words "Limited Liability Company." You can also use the abbreviations "Co." or "Ltd." Some words, such as "attorney," "bank," and "university," are restricted. To use these words in the name of your LLC, you must submit additional paperwork and make sure to have a licensed professional on the team. Any word suggesting that your LLC might be a government agency cannot be used.

Trademark Registration

You are not required to register your trademark when registering your LLC. However, registering your mark will give you legal protection if another person or company attempts to use your name. Both names and logos are eligible for registration. To register a trademark, you must apply with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

When you use your name to sell services or goods, you are automatically granted certain trademark rights. If you want exclusive rights to your mark or the ability to bring a federal lawsuit, you will need to register your trademark.

Choose a Registered Agent

Because operating a business is so time consuming, it's likely you won't always be available for contact during business hours. To make sure that your LLC can always be reached, South Carolina requires that you appoint a Registered Agent.

Your Registered Agent can either be a business or a person and will accept and send legal documents for your LLC. Some of the documents your Registered Agent will handle include state filings and service of process. If your Registered Agent is a person, he must be a South Carolina resident. If you nominate a business as your registered agent, it has to have a legal right to conduct business in South Carolina. You can also name a person from your LLC as your Registered Agent.

File the Articles of Organization

To register your LLC, you need to file your Articles of Organization, either by mail or online. File the documents needed to form a Domestic LLC, along with a $110 fee. Before submitting your Articles of Organization, you must decide whether your LLC will be manager- or member-managed.

To make sure that your registration gets approved, your Articles of Organization must include:

  • The length of time your LLC will be active, if applicable;
  • The address and name of one of the LLC's organizers;
  • The name and the office address of your company;
  • Information about your Registered Agent.

Additional information you may need to provide includes:

  • Details about member liability;
  • The address and name of your managers if you chose this management structure;
  • The effective date of your LLC;
  • A signature of each organizer.

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