Forming an LLC in South Carolina

How to get a LLC in South Carolina is a question that many aspiring business owners may have pondered, and it pertains to setting up a limited liability in the state, which is a multi-step process whose steps range from choosing a name for your business to getting a registered agent, an operating agreement covering multiple members, and more.

An LLC, or limited liability company, is a business form that can offer numerous advantages for the new business owner. For example, an LLC protects you as the owner from any personal liability related to any legal or debt-related obligations your company may have. Another bonus is that setting up an LLC requires fewer steps than other business forms, and it can be created in South Carolina by doing the following:

  1. Select a name. Ideally, it should be short, easy to remember, and have a direct relation to your business activity. Your name should also adhere to South Carolina’s naming guidelines. Some words, like "Attorney," are restricted, and others, like "Secret Service," are forbidden. Your name also must have some variation of "limited liability company" in it and it cannot be the same as any other LLC name. The South Carolina LLC name search can help with this process. Additionally, you may want to see if an email and web address similar to your LLC name can be acquired. You may not need them now, but you might later.
  2. Select a registered agent. This is an individual or business entity that sends and accepts legal documents like state filings and service of process papers on your behalf. They must be either a South Carolina resident or an entity authorized to conduct business in the state, but both must have a street address in the state. You can be your own registered agent if you wish, or it can be someone else in your LLC.
  3. File articles of organization. These should include such information as your business name and address, your registered agent’s name and address, how many members are involved and what their names and addresses are, and how your LLC will be managed. A PDF form for this can be found here. It can be filed online or by mail to the Secretary of State's office, and the filing fee is $110. Processing time is generally one to two business days. Expedited processing is not available.
  4. Set up an operating agreement. This legal document outlines the operating procedures and ownership of your LLC, as well as the ownership percentages, profit and loss shares, rules for meetings and daily LLC management, and how the departure of a member is handled. South Carolina does not require this document, but it is recommended, especially for multi-member LLCs. This document does not need to be filed with the articles of organization. South Carolina recognizes it as a governing document.
  5. Obtain an employer identification number (EIN). This functions like a social security number for your LLC and is necessary for filing taxes unless your LLC is single-member, without employees, and not taxed as a corporation. Some banks may also require it for opening business checking accounts. It can be obtained for free from the IRS.
  6. Obtain a state tax ID. This is necessary if you have employees and are registered with South Carolina’s Department of Revenue or if you collect sales tax. This can be registered for at the MyDORWAY website.
  7. Obtain local business permits or licenses. Because South Carolina does not have a statewide business license, you will need to acquire a business license in any municipality in which you conduct business. The South Carolina One Stop website can assist you with this. LLCs that offer a specific professional service must contact the appropriate South Carolina licensing boards to obtain the permits or licenses they need.
  8. Take additional employee-related steps. If you intend to have employees, you will have to get a withholding number from the Department of Revenue, unemployment insurance from South Carolina’s Department of Employment and Workforce, and certify your employees’ authorization to work with E-Verify. You will also have to retain Form I-9 for every employee and report any new employees to the Department of Social Services.

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