Business licenses and permits in South Carolina

Whether you are starting a new business in South Carolina or expanding an existing one, prepare to get busy. Once you’ve found the best place to start a business in South Carolina, it’s time to get to know its laws. Beginnings are never easy, especially when there is paperwork involved. And that is exactly what starting a business in SC requires – a lot of paperwork. Although most entrepreneurs find obtaining business licenses and permits in South Carolina frustrating and overwhelming, a little preparation and patience go a long way. At the end of the day, no one would be doing it if it was not worth it.

A woman in a business suit jumping toward the word "Job".
Every business venture is a risk but if you are good at what you do, there is no reason to worry.

Do you need a business license in South Carolina?

The answer is – maybe. Some SC businesses do not need to have a license. Still, one or more licenses and permits are often possible or even necessary to obtain. Some kinds of licenses and permits cover areas such as the environment, sales tax, and health and safety. Other kinds cover different professions and occupations. So, before you start searching for the best cross country movers in South Carolina to move your office, get to know the rules and regulations of this state.

State business licenses and permits

The state of South Carolina does not have a statewide license for all businesses. However, some businesses need to be licensed by the state. Different state agencies issue different business licenses and permits in South Carolina. The official website of the state of South Carolina has useful information regarding which licenses your business needs and which agencies issue them. Certain professions need to be specifically licensed by the state via licensing and certification boards. A good example is the Retail License that businesses involved in the sale of retail items and specific services must obtain.

Local business licenses and permits in South Carolina

Apart from the state, most counties, towns, and municipalities require their own licenses for local businesses. These are the counties in question:

  • Charleston County
  • Jasper County
  • Beaufort County
  • Sumter County
  • Dorchester County
  • Richland County
  • Marion County
  • Horry County

Normally, these licenses are only valid for one calendar year. So, you must renew them annually. Since licensing and permit requirements can change without notice, always check with your local government if there are any changes.

A woman holding a lot of papers, tired from trying to obtain business licenses and permits in South Carolina
Multiple levels of government and a million requirements make getting business licenses and permits in South Carolina quite complicated.

Other requirements

In addition to getting licenses and permits, some legal forms of business must file records with the state. This means that corporations, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, and limited liability companies, have to be registered at the South Carolina Secretary of State’s office. You can visit the SOS website for more information. This should be the first thing on your to-do list, since registration information will be necessary to apply for various licenses. Additionally, you need to register your business with the Department of Revenue for Business Property Tax and possibly for Use Tax.

Useful websites

In case your business needs to be licensed by the state, business licensing is handled through the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (LLR) – Division of Professional and Occupational Licensing (POL). This division contains the Office of Board Services (OBS) which supervises the POL professional and occupational regulatory boards. The OBS website has a list of state-regulated professions and occupations, although the list is not complete. You will find more detailed licensing information by clicking on an item from the list.

On the SCBOS website, you can find a document with an even more extensive list of professions and occupations, some of which are missing from the OBS list. This document also contains links that will take you to a page of the POL website with more information about licensing for each profession and occupation.

A woman holding some documents and a pen
You’ll need a lot of different licenses, permits and registrations before you start conducting business in SC.

Register a business name or a trademark

Many small businesses operate under a business name instead of the name of their owner. Some businesses, like corporations and LLCs, register with the state under one name (called registered/actual/legal/true name) and later operate under a completely different name. This alternative name can be called an assumed/trade/fictitious name, or a DBA (doing business as), depending on the structure of the business and where you are operating.

Corporations and LLCs from outside SC must file a fictitious name form if they are not using their legal name in the state. Non-South Carolina limited partnerships must file an assumed name certificate unless they are using their legal name in the state. They can file these forms with the SOS. The SOS doesn’t register DBA or trade names for domestic businesses. It only keeps a registry of domestic businesses’ legal names.

Trademarks, service marks, and trade names have different definitions but they are all used to uniquely identify goods, services or businesses. This involves distinguishing a product, service, or business from similar products, services or businesses. You can register trademarks and service marks with the state.

Hire reliable commercial movers in SC

While obtaining business licenses and permits in SC, you should start thinking about relocation. If you have an existing business, moving it will be just as complicated as the red tape. You probably have a lot of valuable, sensitive equipment that you can’t do without. Fortunately, there are many long distance moving companies in Charleston and other SC cities with experience in commercial relocation. Since time is money, you need someone to do the job quickly and efficiently.

We hope you find this guide useful. If you are moving your business to SC or starting from scratch, make sure you are familiar with the requirements. Also, remember that this isn’t all you need to know regarding business licenses and permits in South Carolina. On the contrary – it is just a small part.