1. South Carolina LLC Name Search
2. Criteria for Distinguishability of the LLC Name
3. South Carolina Corporation Search Guide
4. Analyzing the Results

A Secretary of State SC Corporation Search is the first step in forming your new business in the state of South Carolina. Your business name must be unique. The best way to make sure of this is to run a search with the Secretary of State and reserve your available business name as soon as possible.-

The first thing you'll need to do when forming an LLC in South Carolina is to perform a search to make sure your intended business name isn't already in use by another company. This business name needs to be unique and is required to meet specific state requirements. These requirements are outlined in the South Carolina Uniform LLC Act, specifically in Section 33-44-105.

  • Your business name must include "LLC" or "L.L.C." at the end. "LLC" is most commonly used.
  • Your LLC is not a corporation, and therefore, your name cannot use words like "Corporation" or "Incorporated."
  • You may also not use abbreviations such as "Corp." or "Inc."
  • Your intended business name must be easily distinguishable from all other business names currently registered with the Secretary of State in South Carolina.

Criteria for Distinguishability of the LLC Name

Differences in the designators, grammar, and the like are not sufficient to establish a name as distinguishable from others. The name must be completely unique. A few examples of differences that do not establish distinguishability include:

  • LLC, L.L.C., Inc., Corp.
  • Singular vs. plural nouns
  • A, An, or The
  • And, or, &
  • Hyphens, slashes, dashes, etc.
  • Three vs. 3, Two vs. 2, Ten vs. 10

South Carolina Corporation Search Guide

  • Visit the South Carolina Secretary of State's website to begin a search through their online database. You'll be presented with a choice to search either by company name or number. Search by name to make sure the name you intend to use is not already registered with the state.
  • Don't include any designators such as "LLC."
  • Do not include any punctuation when you run your search.
  • The search is case-insensitive, so it doesn't matter if you type in upper or lower case.

To make sure your search is as thorough as possible, try entering only the first one or two words of your intended name. This way, you'll see every registered name that may be considered similar to yours in the search results. As you continue to search, you may also want to consider entering only a portion of the first word of your name.

Once you have your search results, you can click on the bubbles located next to a business name that indicates whether that business is active or inactive. Next, you'll see a page containing the names of all potentially similar business names that have been registered with the Secretary of State. If you click on a business name in this list, you'll be taken to a second page with detailed information about the selected business, including the company type and business ID.

If you'd like to search for a specific business and you know its business ID number, you can search by this to retrieve only the company you're interested in.

Analyzing the Results

When you run your search, if you see either "This name is available" or "No Results," your intended company name is available for use in the state of South Carolina. However, if you see one of these messages but you still see a list of potential matches, it's a good idea to look through this list carefully. Even though the state will approve your company name, you should consider coming up with something that is unique to avoid brand confusion and the possibility of your business being mistaken by customers for another company with a similar name.

If you are presented with a message that says "This name is currently being used," your intended business name is already registered with the South Carolina Secretary of State is you'll need to think of a new, unique name for your company. In this case, it's best to think through similar variations of your intended name and keep running a search until you find a name that isn't in use or too similar to another company's name.

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