Starting a business in South Carolina isn’t necessarily difficult, but there are many steps you need to consider. One of the first things you need to do when you’re starting a business in any state is determine whether or not you need a business license or permit to operate. Some states require a state-level permit or license, while some only require local permits. Let’s take a look at the state of South Carolina’s requirements.  

Does the State of South Carolina Require a Business License?

If you are starting a limited liability company (LLC) or corporation in South Carolina, you must register your business entity with the Secretary of State. Note- sole proprietors and partnerships do not need to file anything to form their businesses in South Carolina.

South Carolina does not require a standard state business license to conduct business operations in the state. It’s important to remember that just because there is no state license required, that doesn’t mean you won’t need a license at all. Most municipalities in South Carolinas will require their own licenses and permits, and if you plan to operate in more than one location, you will need licenses and permits in each place.  

How Do I Find the Licensing and Permitting Requirements for South Carolina Municipalities? 

You can contact your municipality directly or use this handy online resource from the South Carolina Secretary of State to look up local requirements. 

What Are the Types of South Carolina Business Licenses?

If your business will be engaged in retail sales in the state of South Carolina, you  must obtain a $50 South Carolina sales tax license from the Department of Revenue. If your business will provide professional services, but will not sell products, you not need a license.

You may also need a general business license in your municipality. In addition to a general business license and sales tax license, your business may require other licenses to legally operate in your chosen South Carolina city or town. Other necessary licenses could include:

  • Liquor license: Businesses that market and sell alcoholic beverages will need to obtain this license from the Department of Revenue.
  • Food permit: Business selling food products (restaurants, food trucks, markets, etc.) must obtain a food permit from the Department of Health and Environmental Control.
  • Taxi and Limousine licenses: Businesses operating a taxi or limousine service must obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience from the Office of Regulatory Staff. You can obtain the application from the Public Service Commission.

If you are unsure if you need a permit for your business, contact the South Carolina Small Business Development Center in your area, or reach out to one of our advisors. Prime Corporate Services experts are experienced in setting up South Carolina businesses, and can help you determine what is required for you to operate in the area legally.

What Are the Steps to Getting A South Carolina Business License?

When starting a South Carolina business, you will want to follow these important states to ensure that you have the proper licenses and permits:

  1. Determine the location(s) where you will operate. Each municipality in South Carolina has its own rules about licenses and permits.
  2. Contact the town/city and county clerk in the areas where you will do business to determine if a license is required. You can also find the information directly online here
  3. File the paperwork and pay the necessary fees for a business license in each locality in which you will conduct business.
  4. Determine if you need any other licenses for your business.
  5. Contact the proper state or county department to obtain the necessary additional licenses or permits.
  6. File the application paperwork  and pay any required fees for additional licenses and permits.

How Much Does a Business License Cost in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, business license fees are dependent on individual municipality requirements, and may be determined by industry and revenue. Some counties have a sliding fee that is contingent on rate classes. It’s best to check each municipality in which you intend to conduct business in order to determined your total license and permit cost. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do I need a business license to sell online in South Carolina?

If you are located within the State of South Carolina, you must obtain a sales tax license before engaging in any retail business—including online—in the state. If you are not located in South Carolina, but you sell online to people within the state, you do not need a sales tax license unless your yearly sales inside the state are $100,000 or more.

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