How to Form a Company in South Carolina


Starting a business is exciting, but it’s also a lot of work. In South Carolina, you’ll need to decide on your business structure, name and type; then you’ll have to register with the state and file articles of incorporation or organization. You’ll also need to choose an operating agreement for LLCs and corporations that outlines ownership roles and responsibilities for members and shareholders. If you’re starting a sole proprietorship or partnership, things get even more involved! How do you know where to begin? We’ve put together all the information you need on how to form a company in South Carolina below — read on and then get started!

Decide on a business type.

The first thing to decide is what kind of business structure you want. There are many options to choose from, but they all fall into one of two categories:

  • Sole proprietorship: This is the simplest option because it requires no paperwork or fees. You’re self-employed and don’t have any partners or investors. All profits are considered personal income, so you’ll report this income on your tax return as “self-employment” income. The IRS recommends that owners of sole proprietorships use business bank accounts and keep detailed records in case they’re ever audited by the IRS (which happens more frequently than most people realize).
  • Partnership: A partnership is a group of two or more individuals who agree to conduct a trade or business together as co-owners for profit, sharing responsibility for management and control over the company’s operations but not its assets (unless otherwise agreed upon). Partnerships often have similar tax treatment as sole proprietorships; however, when there’s disagreement between partners about how the business should be operated—or if one partner dies—tax complications can arise for all parties involved

Choose a name.

Choosing a name is one of the first things you’ll have to do when forming a business. There are several factors to consider when choosing a name, including:

  • Keep it short and to the point. The shorter, the better! The last thing you want is for someone to have trouble remembering your company’s name (e.g., “Oh yeah! I remember now!”). It’s also important that your business’s name be easily recognizable by potential customers—so no obscure references or puns unless they’re essential parts of what makes your company unique.
  • Make sure it’s unique enough that no other businesses in South Carolina already use it as part of their own branding. If there are lots of other companies with similar names and logos out there, then yours will probably get lost in the crowd—which isn’t good for anyone involved!
  • Make sure it sounds professional so people take you seriously when they hear about what you do or see how well-organized everything looks on paper (or screen). For example: if all businesses were named “Bubbles,” their names wouldn’t sound very serious; however if many businesses were named “Bubbletique” instead then this could work well because “tique” implies sophistication whereas just plain ol’ bubbles does not..

Develop articles of organization.

  • You must file your articles of organization with the Secretary of State.
  • Articles of organization are a legal document that outlines the purpose of your business, how you are organized, and how many members you have in your company.
  • Articles must be signed by all members and include the name and address of your registered agent (more on this later).

Have the document notarized and register it with the SC Secretary of State.

Once you’ve filled out the form and had it notarized, you’ll want to register it with the SC Secretary of State. There is a fee for this service. You can register your company as an LLC (limited liability corporation) or as a corporation, depending on what kind of organizational structure you choose at first.

State the business purpose.

Along with the name of your company and its address, you’ll need to include a statement of business purpose in your articles of organization. This is a simple paragraph that details what your company does and who it serves. It should also discuss how customers can contact you and any other pertinent information.

For example, if you’re forming a catering business called The Bakers’ Table that caters weddings, birthday parties and other special occasions, your statement of business purpose might note that this is what makes your company unique: “The Bakers’ Table provides high-quality catering services for all types of events.”

This will help people understand exactly what kind of business they are dealing with when they are considering hiring or contracting them for goods or services.

Name the registered agent.

The registered agent is the person who receives legal notices on behalf of your company. This is a very important role, because if the registered agent does not receive these notices, they cannot be forwarded to you or your business.

The person you choose to serve as your registered agent must be an individual and can’t be a business. If they are not an individual, they may have to complete some additional paperwork in order to act as your registered agent. The South Carolina Secretary of State will let you know if this is necessary when you file your Articles of Incorporation with them.

The only way someone can serve as a corporation’s registered agent is by having their physical street address located within the state of South Carolina or having a P.O Box within the state where letters can be delivered (this includes post office boxes).

Include provisions that outline dissolution procedures, meeting requirements and appointment of directors, officers and members.

Here’s an example of a dissolution provision: “In the event that the corporation is dissolved, all assets will be distributed to one or more organizations selected by the board of directors. The selection shall be made within 60 days after termination of this agreement.”

This provision should also include information about how meetings are held and who can attend them, as well as any other provisions needed to comply with state law.

Consider additional formation steps.

There are other steps you may want to take, depending on your situation. For example:

  • if you are an LLC, consider an operating agreement. An operating agreement is a contract between the members that governs how the company operates. It can be used to designate ownership interests and voting rights, as well as limit or expand member liability for debts and obligations of the LLC.
  • if you are forming a corporation or another type of entity in South Carolina, consider applying for a business license from the Secretary of State’s office. The Business License Application requires information about your company’s officers (incorporators), directors and shareholders; address; formation date; number of employees; annual revenue amount; tax ID number/Social Security Number (SSN); and date when this information was last updated by your registered agent at least 30 days before submitting this application form along with any fees required by law – which vary depending on whether your entity is classified as “open” (meaning no restrictions) or otherwise protected from public disclosure by statute/rule/regulation etc.).

Choose a business structure that defines financial liabilities, taxes, management responsibilities and more.

  • Choose the right business structure. This is the most important step, as it will define all of your company’s liabilities and responsibilities.
  • Choose a legal business structure. Your state may have specific requirements for some types of businesses, so make sure you’re compliant with local laws before forming your company!

Pick an operating agreement for multiple-member LLCs or corporations that outlines ownership roles and responsibilities for members and shareholders.

You should also consider creating an operating agreement for a multi-member LLC or corporation that outlines the rights and responsibilities of each member or shareholder. An operating agreement is a contract between the members of an LLC or shareholders of a corporation that outlines how the company will be run and what each person’s role is within it. It prevents disputes from arising later by laying out everything you need to know in advance, including:

  • How much money each person is investing into the business
  • Who gets what share(s) in return
  • What happens if one member leaves before they can sell their shares (for example, if they die before they’ve sold them)

Designate a registered agent to receive legal notices on behalf of your company in South Carolina; a commercial registered agent may be necessary if you aren’t able to accept service personally at your business address between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding state holidays.

A registered agent is a person or business that accepts legal notices on your behalf. For example, if the state of South Carolina serves you with a court summons, it will be sent to your registered agent’s address. Your company may need to appoint a commercial registered agent if your business does not have an open office address between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding state holidays in South Carolina and thus would not be able to accept service personally at your business address between 9 a.m. and 5 p..m., Monday through Friday, excluding state holidays in South Carolina; this type of service can be provided by an online commercial registered agent like Fictitious Business Name Searchs Incorporated (FBNSI) or Corporation Service Company (CSC).

The responsibilities of the registered agent include:

  • Accepting legal notices on behalf of the company
  • Communicating with government agencies on behalf of the company

File an assumed name certificate if you want to do business under another name; otherwise, you can use your company’s legal name (LLC) or doing business as (DBA) name (corporation).

If you want to do business under another name, such as a trade name or trademarked brand, you must file an assumed name certificate (also known as a fictitious or alternate name certificate). It’s important to note that this is not the same thing as registering your LLC with the Secretary of State. You can also use your company’s legal name (LLC) or doing business as (DBA) name (corporation).

An assumed name certificate does not cost anything. You just have to create a form online and submit it directly through the SC Secretary of State website. If someone is not using their real name when they are selling something in South Carolina, then they have to file for this type of registration paperwork with the state government before doing so.

There’s a lot involved in starting a South Carolina business.

Starting a business in South Carolina requires a lot of thought and planning. There are many different types of businesses and all have specific requirements you must meet before you can start doing business and earn a profit. To make sure you do everything correctly, we’ve created this guide to help answer your questions about starting a company in South Carolina.


If you’re still unsure about whether a LLC is right for you, read more about the pros and cons of this business structure.

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