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How To Do A South Carolina Business Name Search

How To Do A South Carolina Business Name Search

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How To Do A South Carolina Business Name Search

If you are forming an LLC or a corporation in South Carolina, the first thing you need to do is a business name search. Like all other states, South Carolina requires each LLC or corporation registered in the state to have a unique business name. You can do a South Carolina business name search on the South Carolina Secretary of State website to see if the business name you want to use is available. 

Related: Guide to starting a business in South Carolina

Step 1: Visit the Business Name Database

Go to the South Carolina Secretary of State website.

Step 2: Search your Business Name

Enter the name you would like to use in the “Search by Business Name” field.  In this example, we will do a South Carolina LLC name search by looking up “Landscaping Experts.” Enter your desired name and click “Search”.  

How to do a South Carolina Business Name Search

Step 3: Review Results

When we search the registered names, we get a list of all the businesses with the words “Landscaping Experts. ” To register a corporation or LLC name in South Carolina, the name must be distinguishable from the other registered names. If you were looking to form an LLC with this name, you would get the warning that “This name is currently being used” and wouldn’t be able to register it.

South Carolina Business Name Registration
SC Business Name Search Results

To find more information about any of the registered business names, scroll down and click on the link in the “Entity Name” column to see a detailed report. 

South Carolina LLC Business Name Search Results

While the name “Landscaping Experts ” by itself may not be available, other variants such as “Landscaping Experts of South Carolina.”  Searching for those business names brings a result that says “There were no records found”.  Even if the name looks like it is available, the Secretary of State will do their own search to avoid confusing potential customers with a business name that sounds like someone else’s.  Typically words that sound alike but are spelled differently and even abbreviations will make names show up as available but won’t be approved.

South Carolina Business Name Availability

These are the basics of searching for a business name in South Carolina.  Even when the name of the business you want looks like it is available, the Secretary of State will make a final determination at the time of filing to ensure the name you picked isn’t too similar to other registered names. 

Something to also keep in mind is that even though each Corporation and LLC name must be unique, it may not stop someone else from using that name since business names for a sole proprietorship or partnership are not registered by the Secretary of State and are not required to be unique. To protect your business name, consider getting a trademark.

Related: Should I trademark my business name?

What information can be found on the South Carolina business entity database?

The business entity database search can find several pieces of information about the business. Some of the highlights include:

  • Business Name
  • Entity type: Business structure, such as a corporation, Limited Liability Company, Limited Partnership, etc.
  • Status: Good Standing means all reports and filing fees are up to date. Other results include “Dissolved” or “Forfeited.” The names of these inactive results may be available to register.
  • Domestic/Foreign: A domestic entity is one that is headquartered in South Carolina, while a foreign entity is one that is headquartered in another state and wants to physically do business in South Carolina.
  • Effective Date: Date the entity became active
  • Registered Agent Information: A South Carolina registered agent is the singular point of contact for the entity should a legal or tax notice need to be sent to the business.  This is often one of the owners, and if their home address is used, that address becomes public information.  Many people find this concerning and use a Registered Agent service like Northwest Registered Agent, so their home address isn’t publicly listed. 
  • Contact Information: Names of the officers and their titles.

South Carolina Business Name Search FAQs 

How do I find a name for a South Carolina sole proprietorship?

Unlike corporations and LLCs in South Carolina, the names of South Carolina sole proprietorships and general partnerships are not listed on the state database. Instead, they are registered with the County Clerk’s office in the county where the business is located. 

Registering a name for a sole proprietorship or general partnership requires filing a South Carolina Certificate of Assumed Name (often referred to as a DBA or Doing Business As name) with the County Clerk. 

How do I form an LLC in South Carolina?

Before starting your business and forming an LLC, be sure to do the business entity search first to make sure the name is available to use.  Once you know the LLC name is available, learn how to form a South Carolina LLC by reading our step-by-step guide on filing the Articles of Organization.

While not required in South Carolina, an LLC operating agreement, which contains the rules for how the LLC operates, is a document worth considering, especially for multi-member LLCs.

After forming a Limited Liability Company, be sure to register for South Carolina business licenses and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) so the business is legal to operate.

What are the naming guidelines for a South Carolina LLC?

In addition to being unique, the LLC’s name must include a special designator such as Limited Liability Company, LLC, L.L.C., etc., and it may not use restricted words such as bank or insurance unless the entity is licensed to operate as such.

Can an LLC name be reserved in South Carolina?

If you want a name but are not ready to register the LLC, you can file the Application to Reserve a Limited Liability Company Name. The name reservation will hold a name for up to 180 days.

How To Do A South Carolina Business Name Search

How To Do A South Carolina Business Name Search

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