This guide provides an overview of the process for forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in South Carolina. LLCs are a popular business structure because they offer limited personal liability for the owners, known as “members.”
LLCs can be formed by one or more individuals, corporations, or other LLCs. In South Carolina, LLCs are governed by the South Carolina Limited Liability Company Act of 1996.
This guide will provide an overview of the steps necessary to form an LLC in South Carolina, including filing the Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State’s office. Following these simple steps will help you get your LLC up and running smoothly.
Before we dive in, here’s a really good explanation video on starting an LLC in South Carolina for those who prefer a video guide.
Benefits of starting an LLC in South Carolina
There are many benefits to starting your LLC in South Carolina. As expert start-up guides will advise you, it has the advantage of limited liability protection for its members. It’s more compact than a Corporation or S Corporation.
Limited Liability Protection
One of the most significant benefits of starting your South Carolina business as an LLC is that it offers limited liability protection, which means that if a lawsuit arises from a customer or client for something you did while operating your business – it won’t follow you home. Rather than the people who own it, the business itself is liable for paying out any damages.
Your personal assets, such as your car or house, are separated from your South Carolina business assets and aren’t at risk of being taken away if someone sues your business for something you did wrong. Many entrepreneurs start their businesses as LLCs because of this benefit.
An LLC in South Carolina has the choice of being taxed as a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, or Corporation. It’s a good deal for start-ups since they don’t have to worry about finding an accountant or anything like that just yet.
Note: Single-Member LLCs are treated as Sole Proprietorships by default.
Minutes of meetings not required
Lastly, one of the benefits of starting your LLC in South Carolina is that no minutes are required for meetings. People don’t have to travel for monthly meetings or anything like that. They need to follow the operating agreement, which doesn’t take too many hours out of the day.
South Carolina LLC Rules & Requirements
This is a quick summary of the most important rules and requirements that this article will go through in-depth.
To apply for permission to form an LLC in South Carolina, the company must have a in South Carolina. Your LLC’s name must include “Limited Liability Company,” or their abbreviation, “LLC.” It can’t be something that resembles another already existing business. Ensure you as a business owner keep accurate records and reports of your business transactions.
Best South Carolina LLC Formation Services
If you’re thinking about starting your LLC in South Carolina, it’s a good idea to use a professional service that can handle the process for you. These services will ensure you get all the necessary paperwork filed correctly and timely so that you don’t have to worry about anything going wrong with your business registration.
Finding the Best LLC Formation Services in South Carolina
Choosing the best LLC formation services in South Carolina is an essential first step for anyone looking to start their own. Here are some of the most critical factors you’ll want to consider:
- Customer service/communication
- Integration with accounting software (if necessary)
These factors will help you narrow down your list of potential providers to find the one that provides you with the professional service you need at an affordable price. We have reviewed some of South Carolina’s best LLC formation services here: Best LLC Formation Services.
As mentioned above, it’s usually recommended that if you’re unfamiliar with this kind of thing, then you should consider allowing LLC formation service providers to help you start your own business here in South Carolina. These services will ensure that you comply with state law and all the rules and requirements. If anything goes wrong, they’ll have your back so that you don’t have to worry about it.
However, if you’re looking to do it on your own, then you can continue reading our guide on how to start an LLC in the state of South Carolina.
The following is a step-by-step guide of what you can expect when forming an LLC in South Carolina:
5 Steps to Starting an LLC in South Carolina
- Name your South Carolina LLC
- Choose your South Carolina Registered Agent
- File your South Carolina LLC Articles of Organization
- Create your South Carolina LLC Operating Agreement
- Get an EIN for your South Carolina LLC
Step 1: Name your South Carolina LLC
Choosing your name can be one of the most challenging parts of starting your South Carolina LLC. You’ll have to choose a name that’s not already in use by another South Carolina LLC or restricted by the state.
The rules for naming your South Carolina limited liability company are as follows:
- Your name cannot mislead people into thinking the South Carolina LLC was set up by the government or is a federal government agency.
- The name can’t be too similar to another South Carolina company’s
- Your name has to end with an LLC designator (LLC, LTD., etc.)
- You may need to fill out additional paperwork if you want to use certain words in your South Carolina LLC name, including bank, trust, trustee, incorporated, Inc., and corporation.
- If you want to see if a specific LLC name is available, you can run a business name search on the Business Entity Search page of the South Carolina state website.
☞ Search South Carolina Business Database
After choosing the perfect name for your new South Carolina business, you can also secure a good domain name. A domain name is also helpful if you want a business email address @yourllc.com.We recommend using Namecheap to register your domain. They have great prices, fast service, and an easy-to-use website.
☞ Check if your domain name is available
Step 2: Choose your South Carolina Registered Agent
Before you form your LLC in South Carolina, you’ll need to appoint a registered agent with a physical street address in the state of South Carolina. This person or entity would be responsible for receiving essential documents on your behalf if anything happened that would require that sort of thing (lawsuits, etc.). You can name yourself as your South Carolina registered agent, but that isn’t advisable because you would not be able to claim any anonymity.
What is a Registered Agent?
A South Carolina registered agent is an individual or business entity that agrees to accept the service of process on behalf of a Limited Liability Company.
When you create a Limited Liability Company in South Carolina, the State of South Carolina requires that this registered agent be appointed for your LLC to become effective. The South Carolina Secretary of State’s Office will not file your Articles of Organization unless you designate a registered agent on your application form.
Who can be a Registered Agent in South Carolina?
For a registered agent, you can select a person or an organization. The individual can be a South Carolina resident, a South Carolina corporation, or a non-South Carolina corporation with a business presence in South Carolina.
You can also use a South Carolina registered agent service to appoint a registered agent and obtain a business address. Services such as Zenbusiness and Northwest Registered Agent offer this service as a feature of some of their packages when you register a South Carolina company with them.
What does a Registered Agent in South Carolina do?
A registered agent in South Carolina is available during normal business hours to accept important documents and notices on behalf of your LLC. These can be official court papers such as lawsuits or service of process documents that will require the registered agent’s signature.
A registered agent is not responsible for the management of your South Carolina LLC, nor are they required to do anything with the documents once they are received at their business address except for filing them under South Carolina law.
Step 3: File your South Carolina LLC Articles of Organization
You’ve chosen your South Carolina name and appointed a registered agent, and now it’s time to create your LLC and become a recognized legal entity.
Before filing, you will need to decide between a member-managed and manager-managed LLC. The members run a member-managed LLC, while a designated manager runs a manager-managed LLC.
To start an LLC in South Carolina, you’ll need to file your Articles of Organization with the South Carolina Secretary of State, which can be done online. The online filing fee is $110, and a person must file this with authority to do so on behalf of the South Carolina LLC.
File your South Carolina LLC Articles of Organization Online
You’ll need the following documents to submit your papers:
- The official name of your South Carolina LLC
- A brief description of the purpose of your South Carolina LLC
- Your South Carolina LLC’s street address
- Your South Carolina registered agent’s name and address
- The signature of your registered agent
- Your LLC’s authorized person’s signature
- Your return address
You can submit your Articles of Organization through South Carolina’s online business filing system.
☞ File your South Carolina LLC Articles of Organization Online
File your South Carolina LLC Articles of Organization by Mail
If you choose not to file online, you can also mail your Articles of Organization to the Secretary of State. The filing fee is $110 and a person must sign the formation documents with authority to do so on behalf of your South Carolina LLC. You’ll need the download the filing form and mail it.
☞ Download your South Carolina LLC Articles of Organization Filing Form
South Carolina Secretary of State's Office
Attn: Corporate Fillings
1205 Pendleton Street, Suite 525
Columbia, SC 29201
Step 4: Create your South Carolina LLC Operating Agreement
After filing your South Carolina LLC Articles of Organization, you will want to create an Operating Agreement.
An operating agreement is an internal document that sets out the internal rules of your South Carolina LLC. These rules address issues such as how LLC owners will spend the money, whether voting takes place within your business, what happens if someone wants to sell their interest in the company etc.
South Carolina does not require an LLC to have an operating agreement, but it is recommended that you create one. An operating agreement ensures that all members know and understand their roles within the company. If they ever need to take legal action, they will show a court of law that the company functions as more than just an unincorporated association.
This operating agreement should be thorough but concise, outlining everything you want to include regarding the membership responsibilities of your South Carolina LLC, so there are no misunderstandings down the line.
The operating agreement will also be necessary when you open a business bank account in South Carolina.
Step 5: Get an EIN for your South Carolina LLC
An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is a unique number that the IRS issues to businesses for tax purposes. An EIN is like your business’s social security number. You can use it to file state or federal-level tax returns and financial statements with different government agencies or open a business bank account.
An EIN is required for several reasons. First, as mentioned above, it is needed to open a business bank account for your South Carolina LLC. You will also need an EIN to hire employees, as it is used on employment tax forms. Finally, an EIN is often required when filing your business taxes.
After you receive your EIN, you will be informed of your South Carolina LLC’s various tax classification options.
Applying for an EIN is a straightforward process. You can do it online at the IRS website. Alternatively, you may download and complete form SS-4 and then mail it to:
Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999
Applying for an EIN for your business is free of charge.
South Carolina LLC Processing Time
Online filings take 1-2 business days for the state of South Carolina to process your Articles of Organization and approve your LLC.
If you choose to file by mail, the processing time is approximately 2-3 business days.
South Carolina LLC Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to start an LLC in South Carolina?
The online filing fee is $110, and the mail filing fee is $110 in South Carolina.
How do I set up an LLC in South Carolina?
Step 1: Choose a name for your South Carolina LLC
Step 2: Choose a South Carolina Registered Agent
Step 3: File the Articles of Organization
Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement
Step 5: Get an EIN
Is there an annual fee for LLC in South Carolina?
No, there is no annual report fee in the state of South Carolina.
How long does it take to start an LLC in South Carolina?
It takes 2-3 business days to start an LLC in South Carolina when filing by mail and 1-2 business days when filing online.