How to Obtain a Business License in South Carolina 2024: Ultimate Guide

LLCBase is your go-to place for everything about LLCs, and it's led by Brian Cohan, who's an expert in the field. Brian and our team are here to give you clear and helpful advice on how to set up and manage an LLC. We've been through the process and know the ins and outs. Our articles and guides are based on real experiences, making them practical for you. We're committed to helping you make smart choices for your business. With LLCBase, you're in good hands as you navigate the world of LLCs.

How to Obtain Business Licenses in South Carolina

Dreaming of setting up a business in South Carolina? It’s a vibrant hub for entrepreneurs with its vast industries, talented workforce, and business-friendly policies. But before your South Carolina LLC lifts off, licenses and permits are your launch pad. No worries – we at LLCBase smooth out the wrinkles in your startup saga.

Our thorough guide is your road map, detailing every step towards obtaining a business license in South Carolina. Grasp the ins and outs of industry-specific permits, glide through government application processes, and secure your license. So strap in and embark on your South Carolina business journey, confident in your compliance with local, state, and federal laws. Your entrepreneur expedition just got a lot easier!

What is a Business License

A business license is a legal document that allows a company to operate within a specific jurisdiction. It proves that the business has met all the local, state, and federal requirements to perform its activities legally. In South Carolina, obtaining a Business License is necessary for entrepreneurs who want to run a successful enterprise.

Types of Business Licenses in South Carolina

Businesses in South Carolina may need to obtain various licenses depending on their industry and activities. Understanding the different types of licenses and their requirements is crucial for ensuring your business’s compliance with state regulations. Some common examples of business licenses in South Carolina include:

  • General Business License: This is the most common license type required for businesses operating in South Carolina. A General Business License covers many businesses, including retail, service, and manufacturing. This license ensures that your business complies with local and state regulations and is registered with the appropriate government agencies.
  • Professional License: Certain professions, such as doctors, lawyers, and accountants, require a specific professional license to operate in South Carolina. Professional boards or agencies typically regulate these licenses and may require additional education, examinations, or continuing education for renewal. Be sure to check with the relevant professional licensing body in South Carolina for the specific requirements for your profession.
  • Sales Tax License: If your business involves selling goods or services subject to sales tax in South Carolina, you will need to obtain a sales tax permit from the South Carolina Department of Revenue. This license allows you to collect sales tax on behalf of the state and remit it accordingly. Failure to obtain a sales tax license or properly collect and remit sales tax can result in penalties and fines.
  • Health and Safety Licenses: Businesses in certain industries, such as food service and healthcare, may need additional licenses to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations. These licenses may be issued by the state’s Department of Health or other relevant agencies and may require regular inspections, adherence to specific guidelines, and ongoing employee training. Research your industry’s health and safety licensing requirements in South Carolina.
  • Specialized Licenses and Permits: Some businesses may require additional specialized licenses or permits based on their specific activities or products. Examples include liquor licenses for businesses selling alcohol, daycare licenses for childcare providers, and environmental permits for businesses handling hazardous materials. It is essential to research any specialized licenses or permits that may apply to your business in South Carolina and comply with their requirements.

Need to obtain a business license in South Carolina? We suggest you enlist the expertise of an LLC Formation Service. This can save you a lot of hassle and ensure the process is handled professionally. Not sure who to contact? Well, you’re in luck! We have compiled a list of the best LLC formation services in South Carolina with a wealth of experience.

LLC Services

Rating & Pricing

Top Features

Learn More

#1 Editor's Choice

$0 + State Filing Fee

  • Free LLC Formation

  • Various Legal Services

  • Attorney Advice

$299 + State Filing Fee

  • Single Package

  • Flat Pricing

  • Legal Services

How to Get a Business License in South Carolina: Step-by-Step

Obtaining a business license in South Carolina is essential for legally operating your business. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process:

Step 1: Identify the Type of License You Need

Research the specific licensing requirements for your business type and activities in South Carolina. This may involve consulting the South Carolina Secretary of State, local city or county offices, and any relevant industry-specific agencies. Be sure also to check if any additional permits or licenses are required based on your business structure, location, or activities.

Step 2: Apply for Business Licenses

Once you have determined your business’s required licenses and permits, gather all the necessary documents, such as business name reservations, formation documents, tax registration, and EIN. Complete the application forms provided by the relevant government offices, and pay any applicable fees, such as the South Carolina formation fee. In some cases, you may be able to apply online, while other applications require mail or in-person submission.

Step 3: Wait for Approval and Issuance

After submitting your application(s), allow for the processing time specified by the respective government offices. This waiting period may vary depending on the type of license or permit, your business’s location, and the current workload of the issuing agency. Be prepared to provide additional information or documentation if requested during the review process. Once your application is approved, you will receive your South Carolina Business License and any additional permits/licenses, allowing you to operate your business legally in South Carolina.

Step 4: Renew or Reapply as Needed

Keep track of the expiration dates for your South Carolina Business License and any additional permits/licenses you have obtained. Each license or permit may have different renewal requirements and timelines. Be prepared to submit renewal applications and fees as necessary, and stay up-to-date with any changes in regulations or requirements that may impact your business’s licensing status.

Recommended: Need a business license for your LLC? Count on an expert’s hand! For timely, accurate, and hassle-free licensing, we recommend –

Our #1 Pick: LegalZoom – ($0 + State Fees) Online LLC Setup

Purpose of South Carolina Business License

South Carolina Business License is vital in maintaining the state’s legality, safety, and economic well-being. It serves several essential functions for businesses and the general public:

  • Compliance with Rules and Regulations: South Carolina business license ensures businesses adhere to the state’s rules and regulations governing their specific industry or profession. This compliance helps maintain a level playing field for all businesses in the state, fostering fair competition and promoting responsible business practices.
  • Public Safety and Health: Obtaining South Carolina Business License requires businesses to meet specific safety and health standards, which in turn helps protect the public. These standards may include building codes, fire safety requirements, and food handling procedures. By enforcing these standards, the state ensures that businesses operate safely and responsibly, reducing the risk of accidents and protecting consumers from potential harm.
  • Revenue Collection: South Carolina Business License also enables the state to collect taxes and fees from businesses, which contribute to the state’s overall revenue. These funds are then used to support various public services and programs, such as education, infrastructure, and public safety. By requiring businesses to obtain a license, the state can ensure that all eligible businesses contribute their fair share to the state’s finances.
  • Industry and Profession Regulation: South Carolina Business License allows the state to monitor and regulate specific industries and professions effectively. This regulation helps maintain high standards of service and professional conduct, ensuring that businesses operate ethically and responsibly. Additionally, it helps the state identify and address potential issues or concerns within various industries, such as consumer complaints or environmental hazards, thereby protecting the public and the state’s economic interests.

Documents Required to Get a Business License

Providing accurate and complete documentation to support your application is essential when applying for South Carolina Business License. Please do so to avoid delays or denial of your license. Some common documents required for obtaining a business license in South Carolina include:

1. Business Name Reservation: To ensure your desired business name is available and compliant with South Carolina regulations, you may need to reserve the name with the 120 days. This process typically requires payment of the applicable online fee of $25 or mail fee of $25. Search the availability of your business name through the South Carolina Secretary of State Business Filings Search before you book a name reservation.

2. Business Formation Documents: Depending on the type of business structure you choose (e.g., LLC, corporation, partnership), you may need to file formation documents with the South Carolina Secretary of State. These documents outline your business’s organizational structure, ownership, and other essential details. Be prepared to pay the $110 associated with filing these documents.

3. Tax Registration: One of the critical steps in establishing your business in South Carolina is registering with the South Carolina Department of Revenue. This process involves obtaining any necessary tax identification numbers and permits, such as a sales tax license and ensures that your business complies with state tax regulations.

4. Employer Identification Number (EIN): If you plan to hire employees or open a business bank account, you will need to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This unique identifier is used for tax reporting purposes and is essential for businesses with employees or those required to file specific tax forms.

5. Local Permits and Licenses: Depending on your business’s location and activities, you may also need to obtain additional local permits and licenses from your city or county government. These permits and licenses can cover various aspects of your business operations, such as building and construction, signage, and fire safety. Be sure to research the specific requirements for your business’s location and activities to ensure full compliance with all local regulations.

Recommended: Tired of obtaining business licenses? Entrust professionals for a seamless document compilation and application. Absolute accuracy and promptness guaranteed! We recommend –

Our #1 Pick: LegalZoom – ($0 + State Fees) Online LLC Setup

Who Needs to Get a Business License

In South Carolina, the requirement for obtaining a Business License applies to nearly all businesses, regardless of size or industry. However, the specific requirements and types of licenses needed can vary significantly based on several factors, including the nature of the business, its location, and other unique circumstances. If you are starting a business in South Carolina, it is crucial to research and understand your specific business’s licensing requirements before commencing operations. Some factors determining the need for South Carolina Business License include:

  • Type of Business: Certain industries or professions may require specific licenses or permits besides the general Business License. Examples include healthcare providers, food service establishments, and financial service providers. You must check with the relevant state and local agencies to determine your business type’s licensing requirements.
  • Business Structure: The legal structure of your business, such as sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation, can also impact the licensing requirements. Some structures may require additional filings and fees, while others may have exemptions or simplified processes. Be sure to consult with an attorney or accountant to understand the implications of your chosen business structure on licensing requirements in South Carolina.
  • Location: Licensing requirements can also vary based on the location of your business within South Carolina. Different cities or counties may have specific licensing requirements, regulations, and fees. Additionally, if your business operates in multiple locations or across state lines, you may need to obtain separate licenses for each jurisdiction.
  • Business Activities: Your business’s specific activities can also impact the licensing requirements. For example, businesses that sell goods or services subject to sales tax may need a sales tax permit, while those that handle hazardous materials may require special environmental permits. Research any industry-specific regulations or permits that may apply to your business’s activities.
  • Employee-Related Factors: Your number of employees and the nature of their work can also influence the licensing requirements for your business in South Carolina. For instance, businesses with employees may need to register for workers’ compensation coverage, while those employing licensed professionals may need additional professional licenses or certifications.

Recommended: Cutting through red tape for business licenses? Hire an expert for streamlined document handling and express processing. Absolute precision and speed, always! We recommend –

Our #1 Pick: LegalZoom – ($0 + State Fees) Online LLC Setup

Where To Get Your Business License

In South Carolina, obtaining a business license involves several steps and interactions with various government offices. To ensure a smooth and efficient licensing process, it is essential to understand where to go and which offices to consult. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process of obtaining South Carolina Business License:

  • Start with the South Carolina Secretary of State: Your first point of contact should be the South Carolina Secretary of State responsible for overseeing business licenses in South Carolina. Visit their official website for valuable information on your business type’s requirements and application procedures. Contact them directly via phone or email for further clarification and assistance.
  • Consult Local City or County Offices: Depending on your business’s location within South Carolina, you may also need to visit your local city or county government office to apply for additional permits or licenses. These local offices can provide information on zoning regulations, building permits, and other location-specific requirements that may apply to your business. Familiarizing yourself with these local requirements is crucial to fully complying with all applicable laws and regulations.
  • Explore Industry-Specific Licensing Offices: If your business operates in a specialized industry or profession, it may be necessary to consult additional state or federal licensing offices. Examples include the Department of Health for healthcare providers or the Department of Environmental Protection for businesses handling hazardous materials. Research the relevant agencies for your industry to ensure you obtain all necessary permits and licenses.
  • Register with Tax and Labor Offices: As part of the business licensing process, you may need to register with the South Carolina Department of Revenue for tax-related permits and identification numbers. Additionally, check with the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce to understand any employee-related registration requirements, such as workers’ compensation coverage or unemployment insurance.
  • Seek Professional Guidance: To ensure you successfully navigate the business licensing process in South Carolina, consider seeking guidance from experienced professionals, such as attorneys, accountants, or business consultants. These professionals can offer valuable insight into the specific requirements for your business and help you avoid potential pitfalls or delays in obtaining your South Carolina Business License.


What is a business license in South Carolina?
A business license in South Carolina is a legal authorization issued by the local government to operate a business within the State.
Do I need to obtain a business license in South Carolina?
Yes, if you plan to operate a business within the State, you will need to obtain a business license.
Who issues business licenses in South Carolina?
Business licenses in South Carolina are issued by the county or city where the business is located.
How can I verify if my business will require a license in South Carolina?
You can check with the business licensing department of the county or city where your business will be located.
What type of information is needed to Apply for a South Carolina business license?
Information like the legal name of the business, the type of Entity, contact information, including the business address, and any additional legal documents like Certificates of Incorporation
Is there a fee for a South Carolina business license?
Yes, the fee for South Carolina business licenses, any applications, and permits varies based on the county or city and the type of business.
How long does it take to obtain a business license in South Carolina?
The processing time for a South Carolina business license varies based on the local Government; some municipalities issue business licenses on the Same Day, while larger County or cities may take up to a few weeks.
Do I need any other Licenses or permits to operate my business in South Carolina?
Yes, some businesses will require additional permits, Licenses, certificates, as per their Industry guidelines.
What are some Industries in South Carolina that require additional business permits?
Construction, Health Care Professionals, Food Services, Spas, Hair and beauty salons, DOT-regulated permits for Vehicles carrying goods, Etc.
How can I find out if my South Carolina business requires additional permits?
You can check with local advisories or regulatory boards of your Industry or with your licensing department office in South Carolina.
Can a Foreign company obtain a South Carolina business license?
Yes, A foreign Company can obtain a business license in South Carolina, provided they can meet the local governance and guidelines
Does my South Carolina business license expire?
Yes, a South Carolina business License requires maintenance and gets renewed every year or every two years, or depending on local government Rules.
Can a South Carolina business license be transferred from one owner to another?
Typically, No. A Business License is assigned to a specific Business entity; hence the new owners will have to Apply for a new business license.
What Steps follow upon applying for a South Carolina’s business license?
Your application shall be reviewed by concerned departments, and a field inspection to so Business Location is held; if it meets the guidelines. After An Approval paid fees, and you will receive the business license.
Can I operate the business without a South Carolina business license?
No. without a valid business License operation is illegal in South Carolina, and could lead to damages, fines, or closures.
Can I appeal the denied issuance of my South Carolina business license?
Yes. applicants can appeal to the hearing Board provided by the local Government; you can file a reopening appeal request based on the cause leading said decision.
Can I conduct business from an unlisted South Carolina business location?
No. The physical business presence and location must Fulfill the requirements of safety codes, zoning laws, and other regulations.
Can I start a business in South Carolina if I reside out of State?
Yes, provided your business has a valid and recognized business location in South Carolina.
How often should I renew my South Carolina Business license?
Every-year irrespective of what business supporting structure you’ve gotten in SC, Change in owner or location or major organization changes, also require renewing a license.
Can I renew my South Carolina business license once it has expired?
Yes, You can renew your license once it has expired, however Late fees may be applicable.
Can I transfer my existing business license to another location in South Carolina?
No. a location change is treated as a New license application, and you will have to register into a new forming Business Entity.
Does every Auto or business services related vendor require a license to operate in South Carolina?
Not necessarily, please refer to your Industry regulatory board, learn and ask when would you need Business licenses in South Carolina
How do South Carolina business licenses factor into their Tax filing procedures?
Obtaining business license in SC has zero-tangental connections or overlaps with tax filings and assessment; it’s only important that These filings are filed by the State’s inward moving businesses since SC Taxes the South Carolinian source Of Profits.
Are any illegal businesses allowed to obtain an SC business license?
No. This list Guided by State rules indicating unlawful or prohibited businesses and activities unwelcome in the South Carolina working Chamber.
Do certain entity structures for my Business take different steps while applying for a South Carolina business license?
Yes, a different set of rules and documents go Alongside the Traditional application process involving the organizational entity.
How long does it take to obtain a South Carolina business license file number?
Usually Instantly as soon as you’ve submitted your filled application, fees, and fulfilled scrutiny guidelines you are awarded an SC Business License.
Who should I connect with if I have additional questions or concerns about obtaining my South Carolina business license?
You must reach out to the state’s particular County/City Governmentanursjaq to provide preliminary information on scope and guideline, followed by appropriate authorities recommended by the Government or the, SC Chamber or Regulatory Authorities.
What types of businesses require licenses in South Carolina?
Depending on the business, different county level or state level licenses may be required.
How do I know which permits I need for my business in South Carolina?
The licensing requirements vary depending on the location and type of business you operate in South Carolina. You will have to check with the state and/or local government for specific requirements.
How do I register a new business and transfer the license in South Carolina?
Business Registration can be completed through the SC Secretary of State’s office. After that, you can contact the South Carolina Department of Revenue to transfer the business license.
What is the cost of obtaining a business license in South Carolina?
The cost of obtaining a business license in South Carolina varies based on the type, location, and size of the business. Fees start at around $20.
Do I need a state business license to operate in South Carolina?
Not all businesses must have a state business license to operate in South Carolina. However, certain professions, such as real estate agents and cosmetologists, require state licenses.
What is the difference between a business license and a permit in South Carolina?
Business licenses usually give you permission to conduct business in a certain geographical location, while permits allow you to enter an industry sphere in South Carolina, like placing a sign up for example.
Do I need a South Carolina sales tax license if I only have an online business?
Yes, if an e-commerce website has a physical presence in South Carolina operating in ecommerce without obtaining a sales tax license exposes it to potential liabilities.
How can I obtain a retail sales tax license in South Carolina?
To obtain a retail sales tax license in South Carolina, you can register with the standard business registration application administered by The Secretary of State. After the secretary of state approval you can submit a Form ST-1 or file online with SCTax, the online portal for the state.
Do I need a contractor’s license in South Carolina?
Yes, if you do constructions projects exceeding $20000 in value, for both commercial and private customers.
How long does it take to get a business license in South Carolina?
The timeframe to obtain a business license in South Carolina varies depending on the specific business requirements of the industry and the government organization.
How can I renew my business license in South Carolina?
For instructions and guidelines on renewing your South Carolina business license, you can visit the Department of Revenue site and review specific industry and profession requirements.
Can I apply for a South Carolina business license online?
You can submit the business registration online by registering the business name with the Secretary of State online portal. However, other licenses will still require location specific visitations.
Do I need to obtain a home occupancy permit if my business is conducted from a residence?
For different counties in South Carolina the zoning requirements vary. Please contact your county directly for more information on how to get a home off work permit or home occupancy permit.
How do I apply for a state retail license in South Carolina?
Applicants may apply and file Form RL-1, obtain an Electronic Filer (ELF ) Client Number or file using the SCTax portal if your industry or profession requires it.
Do building contractors need additional licenses in South Carolina?
Yes, for government construction contracts the general rule of thumb is to apply for an additional license. For buildings smaller, or for non-government employees one contactor license is sufficient
What would happen if I operate in South Carolina without proper licenses?
If you operate without a required South Carolina business license, you will be hit with varying legal fees or issues of liability.
Can I start business part-time or do I need a full-time commitment?
It is possible to operate a part-time business in South Carolina, providing the proof of a compelling reason for the Secretary of State Division approves
How can I find out if my business name is available or not in South Carolina?
You must perform a search on the business database provided by South Carolina Secretary of State to verify and know about business names availability in the state.
Can someone else renew my business license in South Carolina?
“Yes” if you have authorized any individual that is consenting you utilizing SCBO online communication understanding and agreement registered with you’re electronic access passphrase
Is general liability insurance enough for a home-based business in South Carolina?
Home-based businesses can be covered with general liability insurance. Personal policy protecting the business owner should therefore be obtained.
Can a non-resident apply for a business operation license in South Carolina?
Yes, a non-resident must fulfill all regulatory requirements before applying for business licensing after and indicate a point of contact or filling by an agent.
Does a sole proprietor need a business license in South Carolina?
In order to do obtain setup all proprietor and partnerships in South Carolina will need to obtain a respective business type of a license
What type of permit do I need in South Carolina to operate a small restaurant?
A South Carolina establishments engaging in food for on-site consumption needs a special light may also require a letter of realization permit.
Is a business license in South Carolina transferable upon business establishment ownership gaining or exchange of company name or address relocation?
Changing your business’ ownership, moving to a new address, or assuming control of another company demands starting the licensing process for changes.
How should I handle my business license if my industry possesses ambiguous or confounding regulatory requirements?
Contacting against a South Carolina Delivers support officer at [email protected], calling (803) 737-0888 or consulting an industry specific associations can enable advice from industry experts.
Would a cosmetic establishment within South Carolina require a health permit?
Yes, businesses such a tattoo or body art, cosmetics influence this license needing the participation of a certain set of requirements before successively acquiring the operation in South Carolina.
What is the business registration necessary for in South Carolina?
The Basic Business Operations Tax Act requires you to complete business registration and licensing task through the Secretary of State before starting certain business transactions.
Must an incorporated nonprofit organization incorporate under South Carolina nonprofit laws?
Nonprofits should file to establish under section 33-3-901 et seq. of the South Carolina Code.
What role does The Office of Business Operations Requirements Enforcement key in when it comes to South Carolina nonresident?
The “push to include” branch of this South Carolinian topographical sector is responsible to making formal communication items united with an establishment’s licensing statewide.
Do engineering professionials need a business license in South Carolina?
No. However, numerous professional businesses—like asbestos abatement, engineering, contracting services, real estate, architecture, and land fraud—will otherwise necessitate a federal license. Even specialized roles may require varying local commercial permits.

Also Read


Obtaining South Carolina Business License is a crucial step in establishing and operating a successful business in The Palmetto State. By understanding the various licenses and permits required for your specific industry and the processes and documentation needed for each, you can ensure that your business complies with all local, state, and federal regulations. A well-prepared and informed approach to obtaining a business license will not only save you time and effort but also provide a strong foundation for your business to grow and thrive in the competitive landscape of South Carolina.

As you embark on your entrepreneurial journey in The Palmetto State, remember that staying up-to-date with any changes in licensing requirements and regulations is vital for maintaining your business’s legal standing. Continuously monitor the relevant government offices and resources, and seek professional guidance to ensure your business complies with all applicable laws. Don’t hesitate to visit LLCBase for more information and resources on obtaining South Carolina Business License, and take the first step towards building a successful and prosperous business in the vibrant and opportunity-rich environment of South Carolina.

Leave a Comment