How to Start an LLC in South Carolina

Last Updated on February 3, 2022

Costs to Start an LLC in South Carolina

To form a Limited Liability Company in South Carolina, file the Articles of Organization with the South Carolina Secretary of State.  The LLC filing fee is $125 when filing online and $110 when filing by mail.

Approval for the LLC is typically around 1-2 business days when filing online and less than 2 weeks when filing by mail.

Steps to Form a South Carolina LLC

The steps for filing online or by mail are largely the same.  The screenshots show how to file online.

  • Begin by registering for an account on the South Carolina Secretary of State’s website.  If you prefer to fill out and mail the application, download the Articles of Organization Form.
  • Next, select the “Start a New Business Filing.”
How to Form an LLC in South Carolina

First, we search the Secretary of State’s database to see if the name we want to use is available.  You can run a South Carolina LLC name search before going through the filing process to ensure the one you want is available.  The reason for this search is that the name of the LLC also has to differ from other entity names registered with the Secretary of State.

Enter the name you want to search for and click “Search” to see if the name has been reserved.  If the name is available, a message comes up that says, “This name is available” If you get that message, click on the “Add New Entity” button.

South Carolina LLC Name Search

Step 2: Form Selection

Is the organization a South Carolina entity? – If you are filing an LLC for the first time and located in South Carolina, you will generally select “Domestic Entity.”   If the LLC was formed in another state and wanting to do business in South Carolina, select “Foreign Entity.”

Choose a business type to see a list of forms – Open the drop-down menu and select “Limited Liability Company.”

Available Forms – Select the Start Filing button for “Articles of Organization” to form a new LLC.

SC LLC Form Selection - Domestic Entity

Step 3: Contact Information

Enter the contact information for the person filing the Articles of Organization.

Step 4: New Entity Name

The LLC name you checked earlier will automatically fill this field.  Enter the name exactly as you like and enter one of the following words or abbreviations as the corporate ending.  This ending describes the type of business entity. Available endings include:

  • Limited Liability Company
  • Limited Company
  • LLC
  • L.L.C.
  • LC
  • L.C.
  • Ltd. Co.

A comma may be used after the business name and before the corporate ending.  “Cowboy Cleaners LLC” and “Cowboy Cleaners, LLC” are both acceptable.

South Carolina LLC Name Registration

Step 5: Registered Agent Information

To have an LLC in South Carolina, a Registered Agent must be identified.  The Registered Agent can either be a resident of South Carolina or a Registered Agent service.  The agent must have a physical address in the state (PO Boxes are not allowed), be available during normal business hours, and act as a central point of contact for service of process to receive legal documents, tax notices, summons, subpoenas, etc. on behalf of the LLC.

South Carolina LLC Registered Agent

Step 6: Initial Designated Office

Enter the street address, city, state, and zip code of the initial designated office.  This address can be the LLC’s physical address, or it can be the address where the business records are stored.  The initial office has to be an address in South Carolina but can not be a PO Box.

SC LLC Initial Designated Office

Step 7: Management

This section is asking whether the LLC is Member-Managed or Manager-Managed.

  • Member-Managed LLCs have an active involvement in the management of the LLC.
  • Manager-Managed LLCs are hired by the members to run the LLC, similar to a CEO of a corporation.

Most LLCs are member-managed and would not check the box.

South Carolina LLC Manager or Member-Managed

Step 8: Member(s) Liable for its Debts?

Most filers skip this step, but if one or more of the members will be liable for the debts and obligations of the LLC, check the box.

South Carolina LLC Members Liable for Debts

Step 9: Company Term

In this section, you can indicate how long the LLC will remain in existence.  Most LLCs will choose a Perpetual duration and skip this step; however, some businesses (usually investment-related) will have a specific closure date.  If you have a specific end date in mind, click the “Term Company” box and enter the date.

SC LLC Term Company

Step 10: Delayed Effective Date

If you want the LLC to start immediately as most filers will, leave this step blank.  If you want to LLC to start later, enter a date less than 90 days in the future to start. 

South Carolina LLC Delayed Effective Date

Step 11: Organizer Information

An LLC Organizer is someone involved with the formation of the Articles of Organization.  The Organizer may or may not become a member, such as a mentor, attorney, or accountant, but any of the initial members can be listed as an organizer.

Only one organizer is required, but more can be listed if desired.

Last, either an organizer or filer must select the drop-down menu for the “Who is signing this form” question.

South Carolina LLC Organizers

Step 12: Summary of Forms

An LLC that plans to elect corporation tax status will need to file form CL-1.  If the LLC plans to be taxed like a disregarded entity (sole proprietorship) or partnership can continue.  The tax status will be filed with the IRS when the EIN is filed.  By default, single-member LLCs are taxed like a sole proprietorship while multi-member LLCs are taxed like partnerships.

South Carolina CL-1 Form

Step 13: Pay and File

If certified documents are required, check the boxes for “Certificate of Existence” or the “Articles of Organization.”  Non-certified documents will be available once the entity is filed.  Certified documents can be obtained at any time in the future.