South Carolina Articles of Organization

You have a big idea, truckloads of ambition, and dreams of a thriving South Carolina LLC, and you’re mentally prepared to make it happen.

But the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and for you, that first step is filing the Articles of Organization.

With such grand plans, the last thing you might want to do is file paperwork, but completing the Articles of Organization is what authenticates your LLC, making it official in South Carolina. It’s perhaps the most important step in starting your South Carolina LLC. Following this guide will help take the tedium out of paperwork and get your business started quickly.

But before you dive into the Articles of Organization, you should have a few pieces of information ready to help streamline the process.

Choosing an LLC Name

Before anything else, you will need to decide on an LLC name. You must include a business name on your Articles of Organization, and if the Secretary of State deems that name unacceptable or unavailable, the document will be rejected, so make sure you nail down a good name right away.

This means you must follow all of South Carolina’s business name requirements. The good news is there aren’t too many. Your name must include some form of “Limited Liability Company” or “Limited Company,” including the abbreviations “L.L.C.,” “LLC,” “L.C.,” or “LC.” On top of that, it must be distinguishable from every other South Carolina business name, so you’ll want to search your desired name and confirm that no one else is using it.

Once you’ve found your perfect name, include it on your Articles of Organization to automatically register it. In the event that you’re not quite ready to file an LLC, you can place a 120-day hold on your name by submitting a name reservation request.

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Choosing a South Carolina Registered Agent

A registered agent is your LLC’s liaison to the state, the mediator who takes care of all your important legal, tax, and compliance documents, keeping your business in good standing. When you go to file the Articles of Organization, you’ll notice that your initial registered agent’s information is required, so have it ready.

Confirm that your agent is either an individual South Carolina resident with a physical address in the state, or a business entity authorized to do business in South Carolina (like a registered agent service). Your agent will also need to sign the Articles of Organization, giving consent to the appointment. Without a registered agent name, address, and consent form, your application will be rejected.

Quick Note: If your first choice doesn’t work out, don’t worry. You can always change your registered agent in the future.

Preparing to File Your South Carolina Articles of Organization

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Now for the main event: the Articles of Organization. Here’s your opportunity to get your LLC officially on record and authorized to conduct business in South Carolina.

Even though the Articles of Organization is unmatched in its importance to your LLC formation process, it’s not overly complicated. In fact, if you have all of your information ready beforehand, it’ll be no problem for you. Here’s what it requires:

  • The LLC name
  • Designated office address
  • Registered agent name, address, and signature
  • The name and address of each organizer
  • The LLC’s term (optional)
  • Whether the LLC is a term company (and if so, specify the term)
  • Whether the LLC is managed by members or managers
  • The name and address of each initial manager (if applicable)
  • Whether any members are liable for the LLC’s debts and obligations
  • The delayed effective date (if applicable)
  • Signatures for each organizer

And let’s not forget about payment. Unfortunately, the Articles of Organization isn’t free; it costs $110, so have a credit card or check ready to go when you file.

Filing Options

Now that you’ve collected the Articles of Organization’s requisite information and prepared to pay the fee, you can choose from three different filing options: online, by mail, or in person.

Online Filing

If you want to get your business started right away, filing online is your quickest option. Head over to the Online Business Filings system and you can complete the process there. Your submission will be processed within 24 hours.

Hard Copy Filing

Download the paper application and fill it out. When you submit this form, you’ll need to include two additional copies and a self-addressed stamped envelope. After compiling your materials, mail or hand-deliver them to:

South Carolina Secretary of State’s Office

Attn: Corporate Filings 

1205 Pendleton Street, Suite 525 

Columbia, SC 29201 

Hard copy filings are typically processed in 2-3 business days, but it can take longer during peak filing times. In-person filings will be processed faster than mailed filings.

What About Foreign LLCs?

The process outlined above works for domestic LLCs (those formed in South Carolina), but what if your business is expanding to South Carolina from another state? In this case, go ahead and disregard the Articles of Organization, it’s not the form you’ll need.

Every foreign business entity entering South Carolina must instead file an Application for Certificate of Authority. This is called foreign qualifying. Don’t get antsy and begin doing business in the state without first foreign qualifying. This can lead to some serious consequences.

But after your application has been accepted, you’re free to start your business activities. Like the Articles of Organization, the Application for Certificate of Authority has a $110 filing fee.

Want Help Filing Your Articles of Organization?

Let’s be honest: you’ve got a lot on your plate. Filing paperwork can take time away from your other tasks, ones more focused on setting your budding LLC up for success.

The good news is that you don’t need to file the Articles of Organization yourself. But if an attorney is out of your price range, hiring an LLC creation service is a great option.

There’s no shortage of business incorporation services out there, but not all of them are equal. Each one offers different packages, costs, and processing times, so it’s important to find the right fit for your LLC.

While each service has optional upgrades and feature packages, on the most basic level, they will review your business information, prepare your formation documents, and submit them to the South Carolina Secretary of State. They will complete everything outlined in this guide and notify you when your Articles of Organization have been filed. You won’t have to lift a finger.

There are other benefits too. Some services will include a year of free registered agent service when you hire them. Other services offer order tracking, notifications on future documents, assistance drafting your operating agreement, or coverage of certain LLC formation costs.

Important Post-Formation Compliance Issues

Once you’ve successfully filed your Articles of Organization, your LLC is an official business entity in the state of South Carolina. However, this doesn’t mean that your responsibilities have come to an end. There are several other steps you’ll need to take if you want to operate a compliant LLC for years to come.

Acquire a Federal Tax ID Number (EIN)

While an EIN isn’t a requirement for South Carolina LLCs, we strongly recommend that every entrepreneur obtains one. An EIN enables your LLC to hire employees, open business bank accounts, file taxes, and take care of several other important aspects of LLC maintenance. Even if you operate a single-member LLC with no employees, you should still have an EIN for your business.

Set Up a Financial Infrastructure

One other crucial step is to solidify the financial aspects of your LLC, first by opening a business bank account. You must have separate bank accounts for your personal use and for business purposes, as this will help you keep your personal and business assets separate, a vitally important consideration for any entrepreneur. If you commingle these assets, you leave yourself wide open for lawsuits, as it would be easy for someone to claim that your business is simply an extension of your own personality and not a separate entity from you as a person.

The other portion of this step is to set up an accounting system. This can either mean that you hire an accountant to take care of your LLC’s bookkeeping, or you could acquire high-quality accounting software like QuickBooks. Either way, you need a reliable means of keeping detailed records for each financial transaction your LLC executes. This is another vital part of keeping your personal and business assets separated, and it will also be enormously helpful come tax time.

Acquire Licenses and Permits

The next step involves obtaining any industry-specific licenses and permits your LLC may need to operate in compliance with state laws. Depending on the nature of your LLC’s business, you may require several permits or you may be able to operate your LLC without any state-level licenses.

Thankfully, South Carolina makes it very easy to figure out your business’ licensing needs. All you need to do is visit the state’s Licenses, Permits, and Registration and you’ll find the license and permit applications you require. Make sure to check with your county and locality as well, as there may also be licensing requirements for your business on these levels.

Obtain Business Insurance

This step isn’t a requirement, but it is a strong recommendation. The exact insurance policies your business needs will vary based on the type of products and services you offer, but most LLCs should at least have a general liability insurance policy to protect against common perils like slip-and-fall accidents. In some industries, you might need several different insurance policies to cover all of your financial bases, so do your research ahead of time to determine which types of insurance you should purchase.

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Normally, we would include a section about completing your South Carolina LLC annual reports. However, unlike nearly every other state, South Carolina does not require LLCs to file regular reports, whether annually or biannually. So, just sit back and relax, with no reporting requirements on your horizon.

Frequently Asked Questions

About Filing the South Carolina LLC Articles of Organization

How long does it take South Carolina to form an LLC?

If you file online, your South Carolina LLC will be officially formed within 24 hours. For paper filings, you can expect a processing time of 2-3 business days.

Should I file my own Articles of Organization, hire an attorney, or use an online service?

This question largely comes down to personal preferences, but we do have some general insights. The DIY route can be quite a bit of work, as you’ll need to complete each step of the formation process on your own with no assistance. As for hiring an attorney, this can be prohibitively expensive for new businesses, as a lawyer can charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars to form your LLC.

You can think of business services companies as a middle ground between these options. While most of these companies charge a fee to form your LLC, that fee will be significantly less expensive than an attorney’s fee. At the same time, you still aren’t going it alone. Instead, you have an experienced professional guiding you through the entire process.

What does South Carolina require for LLC formations other than the Articles of Organization?

Unlike some states, South Carolina doesn’t require any related filings other than your formation articles. However, we still strongly recommend obtaining a federal tax ID number (EIN). An EIN allows your LLC to file taxes, hire employees, open business bank accounts, and more. Every LLC should have one, whether your state requires it or not.

How many small businesses are there in South Carolina?

Today, South Carolina has more than 430,000 small businesses. Clearly, entrepreneurs in many different fields find South Carolina to be a great place to own and operate a business entity.

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