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How to Register a Business Name in South Carolina in 2023

    How to Register a Business Name in South Carolina
    (Last Updated On: September 17, 2023)

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    Are you ready to launch your business in the Palmetto State? Register a business name in South Carolina is a crucial first step on your entrepreneurial path. Whether you’re forming an LLC or corporation or filing for a “doing business as” (DBA) name, South Carolina offers a simple and efficient registration process. Our guide will walk you through each step, ensuring your business name registration is successful and compliant with state regulations. 

    To make the process even easier, consider leveraging the expertise of ZenBusiness. They can provide valuable support and assistance, allowing you to focus on growing your business in the thriving state of South Carolina. Let’s get your business name registered and set the foundation for your journey toward success in the Palmetto State!

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    4 Steps to Register Your Business Name in South Carolina

    Registering your business name in South Carolina is a crucial endeavor to establish your entrepreneurial footprint in the state. To streamline the registration process, here are four simple steps to officially register your business name in South Carolina:

    Step 1: Choose Your Business Structure in South Carolina

    When embarking on the journey of starting a business in South Carolina, one of the crucial early steps is to choose the right business structure that aligns with your business’s nature and expansion goals. South Carolina offers various types of incorporated and unincorporated businesses, each with its own set of operational characteristics. 

    Let’s delve into these options to help you make an informed decision:

    Sole Proprietorship

    A sole proprietorship is the most straightforward business structure in South Carolina, where the owner and the business are considered a single legal entity. This means that the owner assumes personal responsibility for the business’s debts and liabilities. Establishing a sole proprietorship involves minimal legal and administrative requirements. While there is no mandatory registration with the state, you might need to obtain local permits or licenses.

    General Partnership

    A general partnership involves two or more individuals jointly owning the business and sharing in its profits and losses. Each partner holds personal liability for the business’s debts and legal obligations. In South Carolina, there is no obligation to register a general partnership with the state, but you may need to file a “South Carolina Assumed Business Name Certificate” (DBA) in the county where your business is located.

    Limited Partnership (LP)

    In a limited partnership, there are general partners who manage the business and assume unlimited personal liability and limited partners who contribute capital but have limited liability. To establish an LP in South Carolina, you must file a “Certificate of Limited Partnership” with the South Carolina Secretary of State.

    Limited Liability Company (LLC)

    An LLC offers flexibility by combining the liability protection of a corporation with the tax benefits and simplicity of a partnership. To set up an LLC in South Carolina, you need to file an “Articles of Organization Limited Liability Company” with the South Carolina Secretary of State and create an Operating Agreement to outline the company’s management and ownership structure.


    A corporation is a distinct legal entity from its owners (shareholders), providing limited liability protection. South Carolina has two types of corporations:

    • C-corporations
    • S-corporations

    To establish a corporation in South Carolina, you must file either “Articles of Incorporation For-Profit Corporation” or “Articles of Incorporation Nonprofit Corporation” with the South Carolina Secretary of State, depending on your business type. Corporations involve additional formalities, such as creating bylaws, issuing stock, and conducting regular board and shareholder meetings.

    Selecting the right business structure is vital to your business’s success in terms of liability protection, taxation, and management requirements. If you need guidance in making this decision, it’s wise to seek advice from a legal or business professional. 

    Once you have chosen the appropriate structure, remember that some may require registration with the South Carolina Secretary of State, so be sure to complete the necessary paperwork to get your business off to a strong start.

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    Step 2: Select a Unique Business Name in South Carolina

    When it comes to naming your business in South Carolina, you have several options at your disposal. You can register a legal entity name, obtain a trademark, or operate under a different name while having a registered legal name. The specific rules and regulations for business naming can vary from state to state, so it’s essential to be well-informed about South Carolina’s requirements.

    Your choice of naming method will depend on your entity’s unique needs and circumstances. While it’s advisable to consider all three options to secure exclusivity, you can also opt for a single approach. Maintaining consistency across all registration methods by using the same name is generally a prudent decision, though not mandatory.

    Let’s explore each naming option available in South Carolina in more detail:

    Businesses in South Carolina must register a legal entity name, which becomes the official identification for the company recognized by the state. To ensure uniqueness and avoid conflicts with other businesses, the chosen name must be distinctive. South Carolina’s naming laws include guidelines on company suffixes (e.g., LLC, LP, or Corp) and require the name to accurately reflect the registered business’s nature. You can check name availability using the South Carolina Secretary of State’s database.


    A trademark provides intellectual property protection for a business name or logo at the national level. Conducting a thorough search in the USPTO database is crucial to ensure the name or logo you wish to protect isn’t already registered. Once registered, a trademark grants you exclusive rights, preventing others from using a similar name or logo for similar goods or services nationwide. However, obtaining a trademark doesn’t automatically confer unrestricted usage rights in all circumstances.

    Doing Business As (DBA)

    In South Carolina, you can register your business under an official name but operate using a different name, known as a Doing Business As (DBA) name. Establishing a DBA requires filing an Assumed Name Certificate with the county clerk’s office in your business’s location. While DBAs are subject to federal trademark laws, they don’t need to be unique at the state level.

    By understanding these naming options and considering them carefully, you can successfully register your business name in South Carolina while safeguarding your brand identity.

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    Step 3: Check Business Name Availability in South Carolina

    Before registering your business in South Carolina, it’s essential to ensure that the name you desire is available. Follow these three steps for a thorough name availability search:

    Start by conducting a federal trademark search to confirm if the name is already registered at the national level. Visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website and use the TESS Search to determine if your preferred business name is trademarked. If it’s, you’ll need to choose an alternative name.

    >> File a Trademark with IncFile >>

    Once you’ve confirmed that your name isn’t trademarked, proceed to check its availability within South Carolina. Utilize the South Carolina Secretary of State – Business Entities Online Business Name Search tool to search for registered business names in the state. Ensure that your exact business name is available, and also check for any significantly similar names already in use.

    After confirming that your business name is free from trademark issues and available in South Carolina, perform a search to check the availability of the .com domain version. Although not every business may require a website, it’s recommended to secure the .com domain for your business name if possible.

    Registering the .com domain of your business name with ZenBusiness ensures exclusive ownership and protection from potential use by others, offering affordable domain registration.

    Step 4: Form Your Business With the State of South Carolina

    Once you’ve decided on your business structure and name, the next step is to register your business with the State of South Carolina. This involves filing the necessary formation documents to formalize your business entity.

    To register your South Carolina LLC, you must submit the Articles of Organization to the South Carolina Secretary of State. The application can be completed online or sent by mail. For those establishing a South Carolina corporation, the process requires filing the Articles of Incorporation with the South Carolina Secretary of State.

    You May Also Want to Know

    Protect Your Business Name With a Trademark

    Upon confirming the availability of your business name and securing it, you have the option to apply for a trademark to safeguard it further. This usually incurs costs ranging from $225 to $400, which include potential attorney fees, along with a renewal fee every ten years.

    While this cost might be a concern for startups or small businesses, obtaining a trademark offers nationwide brand protection under federal law. This means that in case others attempt to operate using a similar name, having a trademark grants you legal precedence and protection. However, for many small businesses operating primarily within the state, a trademark may not be essential.

    >> File a Trademark with IncFile >>

    How to File a South Carolina Fictitious Name – DBA?

    To file a South Carolina Fictitious Name (Doing Business As – DBA), follow these steps:

    1. Choose a Name: Select a unique and unused business name that represents your business and complies with state naming requirements
    1. Search Availability: Verify that your chosen name is available by conducting a name search on the South Carolina Secretary of State’s website or contacting their office
    1. Register the Name: File a Fictitious Name application with the South Carolina Secretary of State’s office. You can do this online or by submitting a paper application
    1. Pay Fees: Pay the required filing fee. Fees may vary, so check the current fee schedule on the Secretary of State’s website
    1. Renewal (if applicable): Be aware of any renewal requirements for your DBA, as fictitious names usually need to be renewed periodically
    1. Additional Requirements: Depending on your business type and location, you may need to obtain local licenses or permits. Check with your city or county officials for any additional requirements
    1. Compliance: Ensure that your business complies with all relevant state and local regulations

    Remember, it’s essential to consult official sources and legal professionals for the most up-to-date and accurate information for your specific situation.

    How to Change the Name of a South Carolina Business?

    Should you wish to change the legal name of your LLC or corporation, you can do so by filing an amendment for the existing business name. The necessary forms for both options can be submitted through mail, along with the required filing fee of $110.

    >> Get Expert Assistance from ZenBusiness >>

    Business Name Registration Laws in South Carolina

    The laws and regulations related to business name registration in South Carolina are as follows:

    • Business Name Availability Search: Before registering a business name in South Carolina, it’s advisable to conduct a name search to ensure that the desired name is available and not already in use by another business entity. You can perform this search through the South Carolina Secretary of State’s website or visit their office in person.
    • Business Entities: In South Carolina, various types of business entities can be registered, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, Limited liability companies (LLCs), corporations, and others. Each type of entity may have specific naming requirements and suffixes (such as LLC, Inc., Corp., etc.).
    • Name Reservation: If you want to reserve a business name before officially registering your entity, you can file a name reservation application with the South Carolina Secretary of State’s office. This reservation typically lasts for a specific period, giving you time to complete the registration process.
    • Registration Process: To register your business name and establish your entity officially, you will need to file the appropriate formation documents with the South Carolina Secretary of State’s office. The required documents and fees may vary depending on the type of business entity you choose.
    • Fictitious Business Name (Doing Business As – DBA): If you’re operating a sole proprietorship or partnership and want to use a name different from your legal name, you may need to register a Fictitious Business Name or “Doing Business As” (DBA) name with the county where your business is located.

    To get the most up-to-date and accurate information about business name registration laws in South Carolina, I recommend visiting the official website of the South Carolina Secretary of State or consulting a local business attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure compliance with all current regulations.

    Bottom Line on How to Register a Business Name in South Carolina

    In conclusion, registering a business name in South Carolina initiates an exciting entrepreneurial journey in the Palmetto State. By following the state’s registration requirements, choosing a unique and memorable business name, and exploring trademark protection or a fictitious name (DBA), you establish a robust groundwork for prosperity. 

    Leveraging the expertise of services like ZenBusiness can offer valuable support, making the registration process in South Carolina seamless and efficient. With determination and zeal, your registered business name will shine brightly in South Carolina’s flourishing business landscape.

    >> Use ZenBusiness To Register a Business Name in South Carolina >>

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