Forming a South Carolina LLC: How to File With the SC Secretary of State
Big goals often seem too challenging to tackle. Whether you’re starting a family or buying a home, there’s always the big question: Where do I start?
Launching a business is no different. There are a million things the internet tells you that you must do at this second, but we’re here to tell you that you can take it one step at a time. Your first milestone? Completing your Articles of Organization.
Every LLC is required to complete Articles of Organization for each state it operates in, and they act as your official formation papers when you haven’t operated anywhere at all. This form isn’t always as cut and dried as it seems, and may include terms you’ve never heard of or state-specific requirements.
That said, in this article, we’ll go into detail about what the South Carolina Secretary of State’s office is looking for, as well as two easy ways to file your Articles of Organization with the SC Secretary of State.
South Carolina LLC Filing Requirements
In South Carolina, you’ll always be filing with the SC Secretary of State’s office, which you can learn more about on sos.sc.gov. But before you start the filing process for your Articles of Organization, it can be helpful to understand your state-specific requirements.
The following are descriptions of items the state of South Carolina will require you to provide during the filing process, whether you choose to file online or via mail.
Your LLC Name
South Carolina requires this to be distinguishable from other businesses in the state, so having multiple names or variations on hand can be extremely helpful. If you want to ensure that your top choice is available upon your application, you can file two copies of South Carolina’s Application to Reserve for $25 to reserve the name for 120 days.
Always make sure that your spelling and capitalization is correct throughout the filing process.
Your Business Entity
You’ll be asked to file as a domestic entity or a foreign entity. Domestic entities are brand new LLCs that will be formed in South Carolina, whereas foreign entities are previously established LLCs that wish to start doing business in the state.
If filing online, you’ll additionally be asked to select your business type (limited liability corporation) and online document type (Articles of Organization) during the filing process.
This will mostly include basic information that many standard government forms will ask for, such as your full name and home address. The Articles of Organization will additionally ask for your designated office address, which can be the address of your actual office, your home, or even the home of an acquaintance.
Registered Agent Information
Every LLC is required to have a registered agent, who is responsible for receiving important legal documents and forwarding them to you. This person can be you, or any person or company (other than your own) that resides in the state and can be available for this purpose during regular business hours. During this process, you’ll be required to submit the name and physical address of the designated person of your choosing.
For more information and help selecting this person, take a look at our guide to choosing a registered agent.
The Articles of Organization document will ask for several pieces of information about your company’s management. This will include:
- Who your managers are: If designated people will be responsible for running the business, you’ll have to select that your “LLC has managers” within the form. Otherwise, if you and any co-owners will double as the managers, no action is needed.
- Liability: Though optional, you can choose to make one or more members of your LLC liable for the company’s debts.
- Organizers: This is the information of the people who are filling out the form.
Your form will provide you with the option to select a company term and/or a delayed effective date. No action is needed if you’d like your company to exist forever (until you manually close it down) or if you’d like your company activated immediately after approval. Otherwise, you can set your LLC start date (up to 90 days in the future) and date of closure.
Finally, you’ll have to select how your company will be taxed. You’ll be taxed as a sole proprietorship as a default as the sole owner of your LLC, or as a partnership if several members are involved.
If you’d like to change this after forming your LLC, you can do so using a form 8332. It is somewhat difficult, however, so take the time to do your research up front, or talk to an accountant to find out how to best structure your business before selecting a type.
South Carolina Online Filing Process
Filing your Articles of Organization online is the most efficient way to start operating your business in South Carolina. It costs $125 — just $15 more than the traditional snail mail method — and allows you to receive approval within two business days. This means there’s a good chance you will be approved the same day you file.
To start the process, you’ll need to create and verify your account on the SC Secretary of State Business Entities Online system. Once you’re all set up, log in and follow these steps to file your Articles of Organization:
- On the home page of the online system, select “Start a New Business Filing.”
- Search for the LLC name you have selected. The limited liability company abbreviation should be left out in this step, and only included when prompted to submit your “New Entity Name” later. If you receive a “This name is available” go-ahead, you can continue by clicking “Add New Entity.” If you see “This name is currently being used,” find an available name before continuing, or opt to continue anyway to upload written permission to operate under the indistinguishable name.
- Follow all instructions to fill out necessary fields of the form, clicking “Continue” to proceed as needed. You can use our previous section on the South Carolina Secretary of State’s filing requirements as a guide.
- Once you get to your filing summary, you’ll be able to submit your payment information. Click “Next” and your online business filing process is complete.
Within the two-business day turnaround, you’ll receive an approval or rejection. The rejection will come with details on what you need to do to re-file. If you’re approved, you’ll receive a printable version of your finalized Articles of Organization, along with other documents.
South Carolina Mail Filing Process
The mail filing process for your Articles of Organization is just as simple. While the filing fee is slightly less, at $110, the time frame in which you’ll receive approval from the SC Secretary of State will be significantly longer, with a one-and-a-half- to two-week approval period. To use snail mail to file:
- Print out two copies the Articles of Organization for the state of South Carolina.
- Fill out all necessary fields of the form, clicking “Continue” to proceed as needed, using our filing requirements section as a guide. Make sure all fields are completed with exactly the same content on both copies.
- Write a check or purchase a money order for $110, payable to South Carolina Secretary of State.
- Include both forms, your payment, and a self-addressed, stamped envelope within the envelope you’ll be sending to the Secretary of State.
Before sending off your letter in the mail, make sure your envelope is stamped and addressed to:
Secretary of State
Attn: Corporate Filings
1205 Pendleton Street, Suite 525
Columbia, SC 29201
After processing is complete and approval is given, you’ll receive your return envelope back in the mail with your finalized Articles of Organization. Your business will then be listed when anyone makes a business entity search for your LLC name in South Carolina.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you can nail your Articles of Organization, you may be looking for some additional information to complete your filing process. To help you out, here are our answers to four common questions:
1. If I make a mistake in my submission, how can I amend my Articles of Organization?
If an incorrect statement has been made on your document, business entities are allowed to file Articles of Correction (also known as Articles of Amendment) to the SC Secretary of State. This requires a small fee of $2 for LLCs, or $10 for charitable organizations and other eligible business entities.
2. What payment methods does the office of the Secretary of State accept?
If you’re using the online process, you can use your debit card or credit card to pay the filing fee. If you’re using the mail-in process, you can send in a check or money order. For your own security, do not send cash in the mail.
3. What is the difference between Articles of Organization and Articles of Incorporation?
As the name may suggest, Articles of Incorporation are specifically meant for corporations, whereas Articles of Organization are the appropriate document for LLCs. Many companies choose to file Articles of Incorporation, because owning a corporation reduces personal liability and makes the company itself responsible for the actions of its people.
4. Do I need to complete Articles of Organization for an LLP?
While the answer is yes for in some states, South Carolina does not require limited liability partnerships (not to be confused with limited partnerships) to complete Articles of Organization with the SC Secretary of State. Instead, LLPs must complete the Application for Registration of a Limited Liability Partnership, which comes with a $100 filing fee. Luckily, the fields for this form are fairly similar to those in the Articles of Organization.
Take Your Next Big Step
One milestone complete means many great ones ahead. We hope this guide has led you toward a stamp of approval from the SC Secretary of State for your Articles of Organization and helped you make headway toward your biggest goals. Ready to take the next step with your LLC? Take a look at our article on how to build your LLC operating agreement and protect your company.