Forming a limited liability company in South Carolina is a sound decision in many ways.
First, you benefit from various legal protections such as diminished personal liability and personal asset protection an LLC offers. Then you also get to enjoy some of the best beaches and world-class golf.
Both, however, come at a price. This post outlines how much it costs to form and maintain your LLC in good standing with the SC Secretary of State.
1. LLC formation cost in South Carolina: $110
Filing your South Carolina Articles of Organization officially forms your LLC.
This document includes basic information about your business entity like the LLC’s name and address, registered agent, and the organizer’s information.
Domestic LLCs are business entities registered in the state of South Carolina. The state registration fee for them is $110.
If your LLC is registered in another state, it's considered a foreign LLC in South Carolina.
Foreign LLCs must apply for a Certificate of Authority in South Carolina before doing business. Like domestic LLC filing fees, formation documents for foreign LLCs cost $110.
You can file online or by mail. Online filings are processed within 24 hours by the Secretary of State’s office. Mailed filings take 2-3 business days once received.
When you mail your formation documents, send them to:
South Carolina Secretary of State’s Office
Attn: Corporate Filings
1205 Pendleton Street, Suite 525
Columbia, SC 29201
Include two copies of your formation documents, the $110 state filing fee, and a stamped return envelope.
2. Registered agent costs: $50 to $150
You must appoint a registered agent before filing formation documents for your LLC.
A registered agent in SC must be a person or business that receives legal documents on your LLC's behalf. Your registered agent must have a physical street address in South Carolina.
If your registered agent resigns or changes their address, you'll have to pay $10 for each change. Requests can be filed online or via mail.
Similar to mailing your formation documents, you must include 2 copies (3 for resignation) of the business filing, the filing fee, plus a stamped return envelope and mail to the South Carolina Secretary of State's office.
Some small business owners choose to hire a professional service provider.
This means a registered agent service will be available during business hours in case of service of process to receive your legal documents at their location (not yours). Using a professional registered agent service can save you time and costs less than $100/year.
3. Trade name registration: $2
In South Carolina, fictitious name (trade name) registrations are not required for domestic businesses.
It’s an optional step you can do if you want to operate under more than one business name legally. If that’s your goal, you should apply for a DBA with a county clerk, not South Carolina SOS.
However, foreign LLCs must apply for a fictitious name if another business is already using their business entity's name in South Carolina.
To get a trade name for your foreign LLCs, you must file the Adoption of a Fictitious Name form with the South Carolina Secretary of State and pay the $2 filing fee.
4. SC LLC name reservation: $10
If you want a specific name for your LLC, but you're still in the process of filing your formation documents, you can pay to reserve the name for up to 120 days.
You'll need to send 2 copies of the name reservation form plus the $10 filing fee to the South Carolina Secretary of State.
5. Certified document copies: costs vary
As a business owner, you may need certified copies of documents to prove the existence of your LLC. When you apply for bank accounts and lines of credit, lenders may request a Certificate of Existence (or Certificate of Authority for foreign LLCs) to confirm that your business structure is in good standing.
You can search, file, and request these documents or other copies on the South Carolina Secretary of State’s website. Certified copies are $14 and processed in 2-3 business days.
6. Business permits and licenses: costs vary
Business permits and licenses are issued at the county level in South Carolina. Business license requirements apply to physical, online, and home-based businesses.
You may need a “specialist” license if you operate in a regulated industry. If your company has physical locations in multiple counties, you'll need separate business licenses for each county.
Professional or specialty licenses like Certified Public Accountant, plumber, or contractor are issued by the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (LLR).
Fees vary by specialty. A CPA’s licensing fee is $80 per year, while a general contractor pays $350 for an initial license and $135 every 2 years.
Check the LLR website for specifics for your industry.
If your business sells physical products, you may be required to obtain a sales tax license from the South Carolina Department of Revenue. The standard fee for a Retail Sales Tax License is $50.00. You can register to receive it along with your state tax ID online.
Does South Carolina have an annual LLC fee?
No, South Carolina doesn't have an annual LLC fee. There’s no annual report filing requirement in SC and, therefore, no state fees due.
However, if there are any changes to your company, you need to file an update to the Secretary of State using a respective form.
What taxes do LLCs pay in South Carolina?
For federal tax purposes, LLCs are viewed as a “disregarded entity,” meaning no separate business taxes are charged on the company profits.
Instead, all business profits are reported on the LLC members’ personal tax returns:
- Single-member LLCs pay taxes as a sole proprietorship.
- Multi-member LLCs pay taxes as a partnership.
If you’re a resident of SC, this means you’ll need to pay your individual income tax on all retained earnings. Then also, pay self-employment taxes on the owner withdrawal you've made. You can learn more about LLC tax filing requirements from our guide.
The sales tax rate in South Carolina is 6% statewide. Sales tax applies to the sale of physical products and specific services. You may also have to pay local taxes in some counties. These rates vary.
If you plan to hire employees to work for your LLC, you’ll have to pay employment taxes. Employers will pay unemployment insurance to the state — ranging from 0-7% based on each employee's taxable income. Also, they must withhold applicable state income taxes from employees’ compensation.
Conclusion: How much does an LLC cost in South Carolina?
At a minimum, you need to spend $110 to form an LLC in South Carolina. That covers the cost of filing your domestic or foreign LLC formation documents.
Expect to pay a few extra dollars if you reserve your business name or are a foreign LLC. A registered agent service brings peace of mind for about $100 per year.
You may have licensing fees based on your industry and county requirements in South Carolina.
It could be another couple hundred dollars on average because different industries require different licenses, if any. South Carolina is one of the few states that doesn't require annual LLC fees. After forming an LLC, you won't have to pay any additional fees!
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