State of South Carolina Business Name Registration

A South Carolina Secretary of State Business Search helps ensure that you select a unique name for your business. The business name you choose is how customers will come to know you and your reputation. As such, it's so much more than the name you use when filing paperwork and tax returns, so you need to give it plenty of thought.

In South Carolina, the Secretary of State is charged with registering business names, and business owners must choose distinct names unlike any currently listed in the state. The South Carolina Secretary of State's Business Corporate Division is responsible for ensuring each corporation or business registered in South Carolina is distinct. The Secretary of State has made it easier to search the registry by making its database available online. Anyone can search for a business name or registration ID to bring up details of that business.

Information contained in the registry is updated with any commercial activity happening in South Carolina. All types of businesses are listed in the database, including:

  • Corporations
  • Limited liability companies (LLCs)
  • Limited partnerships

The time it takes to process your registration is typically two business days from when the application was received. In certain circumstances, however, the Secretary of State's office may be flooded with applications, and the processing time can take longer.

Search Your Business Name

Check on your business name's availability by navigating to the South Carolina Secretary of State website and clicking on “Search Business Filings.” You must choose a business name that is grammatically different from other business names registered in the state. For example, if “Happy Daisy Landscaping” is already registered in Charleston, you cannot conduct business under “Happy Daisy Landscaping” in Greenville. You can, however, choose the name “Cheerful Flower Landscaping,” because it is distinct.

Reserve Your Business Name

In some cases, you may not be ready to launch your business. Instead, you can reserve your preferred business name by filing the appropriate application. For instance, you can fill out the Application to Reserve a Limited Liability Company Name if you intend to start a LLC. For limited partnerships, complete the Application to Reserve a Name for Limited Partnership, and so on. These types of name reservations are valid for 120 days, after which point they expire.

If you're ready to organize your business, you don't need to reserve a business name first. Simply go forward by incorporating the business or applying for an LLC.

Register Your Business Name

Registering your business name requires you to complete the proper formation documents. You need to have the right form for your business entity type, so if you are starting a limited liability company, you should fill out the LLC application. You can obtain these forms online at the South Carolina Secretary of State website.

These applications are legal documents that establish your business, so you may want to hire a lawyer or an online legal document service to go over the forms with you. Be sure to include the required filing fee and a self-addressed envelope with a stamp.

Aspiring entrepreneurs who are playing around with business name ideas should consult the Secretary of State's database to see the names of businesses already registered. You can also use the database to search business information for entities that no longer exist.

Name Availability Searching

These steps will help you better navigate the South Carolina business search.

  • Navigate to the Secretary of State website at
  • Enter the business name in the search box and click “Search”
  • View the results and click on any business names you wish to review
  • Read the resulting business information

LLC Name Requirements in South Carolina

There are some things you should know about searching for your preferred LLC name in the state of South Carolina. For starters, all LLCs in South Carolina must include “LLC” in some form. The abbreviation “L.L.C.” is acceptable. An LLC cannot have any words related to corporations in the name, including “incorporated” or the abbreviations “inc.” or “corp.” These will be denied.

The name for your LLC must be distinct and unlike any other in the database. Simply adding “a,” “an,” “or,” “&,” hyphens, commas, slashes, periods, or numbers, does not count toward distinctiveness.

When using the database to search business names for your LLC, choose the “begins with” option and enter the name you wish to search. Perform multiple searches where you remove the “LLC” and any punctuation marks to make sure you cover all your bases.

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