One of the first and most important steps of any new business is finding the perfect name for your South Carolina LLC.
Checking the LLC name availability in South Carolina is an important step in the business formation process. It ensures your business name is distinguishable from the names of other South Carolina businesses so that you do not violate anyone’s intellectual property rights.
Our South Carolina LLC Name Search guide will show you how you can find available business names in South Carolina and how to reserve and register your business name.
How to Search for a South Carolina LLC Name
Below are the four steps that you need to follow in order to conduct an LLC name search in South Carolina.
Step 1: Follow the South Carolina LLC Naming Guidelines
Registering a LLC is an important step for any business venture in South Carolina. Naming your LLC correctly not only ensures that your company stands out but also allows you to protect your business and its assets.
It’s essential that all South Carolina LLCs choose a name that follows the state guidelines. Abiding by these rules will help ensure a smooth process when registering the business with the state. And having an attractive and memorable name will give your LLC greater visibility while standing out from competitors.
The first step is to ensure that your chosen name complies with the requirements of South Carolina’s LLC naming guidelines:
- All LLCs in South Carolina must include the words “limited liability company,” “LLC,” or “L.L.C.” in their names.
- The name must be distinguishable on the records of the Secretary of State from the names of other business entities.
- The name should not contain language that states or implies that the LLC is organized for a purpose other than what is permitted by law.
- Business names may not use terms such as “corporation,” “incorporated,” “cooperative,” or “inc.” that imply a different business entity.
- The name cannot falsely imply a connection to the government or any government department or program.
- The name should not include profane, lewd, or obscene language.
- The name should not imply that the LLC is part of any existing organization, group, or entity such as banks, insurance companies, educational institutions, or any state-regulated organization or professional organization that requires proper licensure and registration in South Carolina.
Selecting a name is just one of the several requirements when forming an LLC. To avoid improper or incomplete LLC formation documents, we recommend using the assistance of an LLC formation service.
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Step 2: Look Up South Carolina LLC Name Search Availability
The next step is to conduct a South Carolina LLC name search. Below are a few ways to do a business name search in South Carolina.
- LLC Name Search: Run a search using the South Carolina Secretary of State Business Name Search tool. You’ll be able to search for businesses registered in the state and file forms for an existing business through the “Add Filing” button. You may also try typing your business or trademark on any search engine to check businesses with similar names. This will also ensure your trademark is unique, meets the state’s requirements, and frees you from any legal hassles in the future.
- Domain Name Search: If your business name is still available, you must register a domain name next if you want to represent your brand or organization with a website. Having a URL that matches your business name is important since this is how your potential and existing clients can find your business.
To determine the availability of your chosen URL, use a domain registrar, such as GoDaddy.
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Note: While you can use social media to search for business names to determine your desired name, the search results might not give you useful insight if your desired business name is available and exclusive for use.
Step 3: Reserve Your South Carolina LLC Name
If you wish to reserve the name of your LLC in South Carolina and file the Articles of Organization at a later point in time, you can submit an Application to Reserve a Limited Liability Company Name. The name reservation filing fee for an LLC is $25.
You can reserve a business name for a nonrenewable 120-day period in South Carolina. Note that if you’re ready to register your LLC straight away, you can do so without a name reservation.
Using a South Carolina DBA for Your LLC
In South Carolina, a DBA (“doing business as”) name is known as a trade name. A South Carolina trade name allows you to use a name other than your business’s legal name when operating.
If you want to keep your legal business name but conduct another business activity under a different name, you can usually create a DBA name and legally operate under a new name. Unlike most states, a DBA should be filed with the Clerk of Court in the jurisdiction in which you conduct business. The fee for getting a South Carolina Trade Name varies, depending on your specific Clerk of Court’s office.
LLC owners sometimes choose to brand their businesses with a DBA. Most sole proprietors and general partnerships use a DBA to create a brand other than their surnames.
Step 4: Register a South Carolina LLC Trade or Service Mark
Doing a name search on the federal trademark database will tell you whether another business or person has already “marked” your name.
Once you verify the availability of your LLC name and secure it, you can choose to apply for a trade or service mark for your business.
Registering your LLC business “mark” (refers to trade and service marks) with the South Carolina Secretary of State not only distinguishes the goods or services your business provides, but also creates a statewide notice that any entity or person cannot use any of your marks (such as brand name, slogans, and logos).
For these reasons, it is important for an LLC owner to register a mark with the South Carolina Secretary of State. The filing fee for a South Carolina Trade or Service Mark Application is $15 per class (“class” means goods and services).
Registering a trade or service mark is not the same as filing a formation document. If you’re registering a business in South Carolina, check out the steps on how to form a South Carolina LLC.
South Carolina Secretary of State Contact Information
South Carolina Secretary of State’s Office
1205 Pendleton St., Suite 525
Columbia, SC 29201
Edgar Brown Building
1205 Pendleton St., Suite 525
Columbia, SC 29201
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Phone: (803) 734-2158
Email: Contact Form
South Carolina LLC Name Search FAQ
Why do I need to do a South Carolina LLC name search?
When forming a South Carolina LLC, you will be required to choose a name and then file for either the Articles of Organization or reserve your name for a later filing. This name must be unique and available for use, and should not already be registered with the South Carolina Secretary of State. To search for available LLC names, you can use the Secretary of State Business Entity Search tool.
How do I check if an LLC name is taken in South Carolina?
You can use the South Carolina Business Entity Search tool to check if your business name is available. You may also contact the South Carolina Secretary of State Business Filing Division by online contact form.
Can I renew a South Carolina LLC name reservation?
Yes. When you reserve an LLC name in South Carolina with the intention of filing the official Articles of Organization in the future, you can only do so for a non-renewable 120-day period. After this period ends, your name is released to the public. While you can re-register a name, you may want to avoid the extra cost of paying the fees again. Make sure you officially register your LLC within the reservation period.
Is the South Carolina Secretary of State LLC name search tool free to use?
Yes. You can use the South Carolina Secretary of State Business Search tool absolutely free. When you go to reserve your LLC name officially, only then will you be required to pay filing fees.