How to obtain a business license in South Carolina

Updated on December 21, 2023


Securing a business license is essential for legal operation in South Carolina. This guide offers comprehensive insights into licensing requirements, application processes, costs, necessary documents, compliance, and special considerations for various industries in South Carolina.

Who Needs a Business License in South Carolina

Nearly all commercial business entities require licensing in SC, including retailers, restaurants, contractors, consultants, rental property owners, healthcare professionals, and independent professionals.

Penalties for non-compliance include fines up to $200 per violation, cease and desist orders, potential business closure after multiple offenses, and criminal charges.

Understanding South Carolina Business Licenses

Common South Carolina licenses needed:

  • Business licenses – Needed in most municipalities
  • Sales tax licenses – To collect and remit sales tax
  • Professional/vocational licenses – For services like law, real estate, nursing etc.
  • Specialized permits – For liquor stores, casinos etc.

Preparing to Apply for a License

Utilize South Carolina’s Business One Stop portal tools to determine necessary permits and registrations. Gather business formation documents, ownership details, lease agreements, and financial statements. Fees vary by license type.

Step-By-Step Guide to Apply

To apply for licenses in South Carolina, visit the SC Business One Stop Portal, use the Licensing Tool, select required licenses, provide business information, pay fees, and await approval.

To apply digitally:

  1. Access SC Business One Stop Portal
  2. Utilize Licensing Tool
  3. Select required license types
  4. Provide requested business and owner details
  5. Pay fees
  6. Obtain approvals

After Submitting an Application

Online applications typically process within 15 days. Monitor your status via the Portal.

If issues occur, administrators contact applicants by phone or email to resolve concerns.

Maintaining Compliance

To remain legally compliant in South Carolina once licensed:

  • Display licenses prominently onsite
  • Renew licenses annually
  • Remit timely tax and licensing fee payments
  • Maintain necessary insurance policies
  • Report changes in ownership, activities, locations

Obtaining Federal Registrations

Don’t forget federal registrations such as an Employer ID Number (EIN) and trademark protections in South Carolina.

Special Considerations

Verify specific licensing requirements for businesses like liquor stores, casinos, and healthcare providers with South Carolina regulatory agencies.

Registering Your Business Name

File trade name certificates via the South Carolina Secretary of State if operating under “Doing Business As” names.

South Carolina Tax Permits

Common tax registrations include Retail Sales Tax Licenses, Alcoholic Beverage Licenses, and Local Hospitality Tax Registrations.


Who Needs a South Carolina Business License?

Most commercial entities in South Carolina, including retailers, contractors, and hospitality companies, require a license.

What Do Licenses Cost in South Carolina?

License fees range from $35 to over $300, depending on the type of license. Multiyear discounts are sometimes available.

How Long Does Approval Take?

Online applications for business licenses in South Carolina typically process within 15 days after submission of all required documentation. Paper applications may take longer to process.

Final Thoughts

Adhering to licensing protocols in South Carolina is essential for legal operation and avoiding penalties. Utilize digital registration options for efficient processing.

Priyank Singh

Priyank Singh, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Stilt, specializes in technology-driven financial solutions. He is having experience of starting FinTech Company, understanding regulations and coming up with creative solutions to solve difficult problems.