Note that this guide will focus on understanding how to obtain and maintain a DBA name specifically for your limited partnership in the state of South Carolina.
However, the benefits of a DBA name and how to choose one can be applied to other business structures.
What is a South Carolina “doing business as” (DBA) name?
Your South Carolina DBA name is an alias to promote your company’s persona and brand. This name can be used for operations, websites, and any correlating branding to help customers quickly understand what your new business is. A DBA name is referred to as a “fictitious name” or “assumed name” in South Carolina.
An important distinction to consider is that a DBA name is not a business entity type and does not impact how your business pays taxes. Regardless of your business entity type, you are eligible to operate under a DBA name. Some limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations find DBA names to be beneficial when they prefer to use their business name without the added business designator, like “LLC” or “Inc.”
There are two main categories of businesses that tend to seek DBA names:
- Sole proprietorships and partnerships: Without a DBA name, your business would be referred to as your legal name. Unless you plan to build a brand around your personal name, you may find it advantageous to have a DBA name. With a DBA name, you can operate under a legal business name.
- Corporations and LLCs: When your corporation or LLC does not wish to use a business qualifier, like “LLC” or “Inc.,” a DBA name is an ideal way to operate under your desired business name. Additionally, business owners may wish to launch a new division or line of products. A DBA name can be useful for this also, and there is no limit in South Carolina to the number of DBA names a business can utilize.
Businesses may find the use of a DBA name advantageous for several reasons, including the following benefits:
- Ability to choose a name that resonates with customers and supports your brand: A DBA name gives you the ability to share your branding voice right in your business name. A bonus branding opportunity exists if it aligns with an available “.com” domain name.
- Freedom to conduct business transactions under your DBA name: Formally registering your DBA name allows you to conduct official business, such as vendor and banking transactions, under this name.
- Ease of use: If your business goes by a shortened version of its legal name already, such as dropping a designator like “LLC” or “Inc.,” a DBA name can help with smoother operations.
Continue reading for a detailed overview of how to obtain your South Carolina DBA name.
How do I choose a South Carolina DBA name?
Choosing the perfect DBA name for your business requires careful consideration. First and foremost, you should look at how a name will stand out among your competitors and support your marketing efforts. A great DBA name is distinctive and memorable and allows potential customers to quickly understand your business’s nature.
You are not required to file your DBA name with the Secretary of State in South Carolina unless you are a limited partnership. The appropriate paperwork for a limited partnership should be filed with the county clerk in your respective city, town, and/or county.
When choosing a DBA name in South Carolina, it cannot conflict with a registered South Carolina business name. To see if a business name is already in use, you can perform a Business Name Search on the South Carolina Secretary of State’s website. Another restriction on DBA names in South Carolina is to avoid using terms related to banking.
Note: Simply filing a DBA name will not protect that name from another business using it. If you desire to protect your DBA name, you should seek protection through trademarking.
How do I register a South Carolina DBA name?
The following steps can be done to register your DBA name in South Carolina:
- Conduct a Business Name Search on the Secretary of State’s website.
- Ensure your desired DBA name is not already in use by another South Carolina business.
- After 2006, there is no statewide registration filed with the Secretary of State to have your name recognized as a DBA name.
One exception is that if your business is a domestic limited partnership, you may file with the Secretary of State using the downloadable form found here. Print and complete the form, and then mail it to the listed address with the $10 registration fee.
How do I manage ongoing DBA name compliance in South Carolina?
South Carolina has minimal requirements for compliance once you have filed your DBA name. However, business license renewals by county are a requirement, as laid out in this example by Richland County’s “Starting a Business” page.
Depending on the county, you may request their local form to file for a DBA name. Otherwise, you can provide your DBA name directly on your business license form and renewals. It is noteworthy to recognize that business licenses must only be applied for where truly needed — in local areas where a business license is required, and only in an area where the business is located or operating.
South Carolina DBA FAQs
How much does it cost to register a South Carolina DBA name?
If you have the opportunity to register as a domestic limited partnership with the Secretary of State, the DBA name registration filing fee is $10. Otherwise, your DBA name information will likely be included in your business license registration if your area of business does not offer a separate DBA name form. This will vary according to the town, city, and county in which you register.
Since no business license covers the entire state, you will need to include your DBA name on the business license of each area in which you plan to operate. In South Carolina, a business license is required in almost all cities and nine of the 46 counties if your company is located in or conducting business in their jurisdiction.
What is the processing time to register a South Carolina DBA?
Processing times will vary from county to county and city to city, and some will offer faster services through online submissions. One example in Richland County estimates five to 10 business days for processing times.
Do I need a DBA name for my South Carolina business?
While a DBA name is not a requirement in South Carolina, it can be advantageous to many businesses. Sole proprietorships that do not wish to use their personal name to conduct business and LLCs and corporations wishing to drop the designators from their business name may find DBA names useful.
Determining what the rules are for DBA names in your particular area of South Carolina can be tricky. In some cases, you will need to file separate business licenses in each area you wish to conduct business and include your desired DBA name on the paperwork at that time.
If I register a DBA name in South Carolina, can another business use the same name?
Obtaining a registered DBA name in South Carolina does not protect your business from other businesses using the same or a similar name. However, a legal business name cannot conflict with another registered business name in South Carolina. In general, the best way to protect your brand is through trademarking.
Can a business in South Carolina have multiple DBA names?
In most cases, a business can utilize multiple DBA names. In South Carolina, these may need to be provided on a business license to establish the name as your DBA at that time. Consult with an expert at ZenBusiness for help determining when and where to include your DBA name and for smoother processing of all your business filing.
Is a DBA name the same thing as a fictitious business name in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, a DBA name is also referred to as a “fictitious name” or “assumed name.” In this case, yes, they are interchangeable names for a DBA name. Note that DBA names are referred to as “trade names” and “assumed business names” in other states.
Do I need a DBA name in South Carolina if I use my own name for a sole proprietorship?
When you have a sole proprietorship, your personal legal name is used to conduct all business transactions. In South Carolina, you do not need to file a DBA name to use another name for your sole proprietorship.
Will using a DBA name affect how my business is taxed in South Carolina?
No, a DBA name is irrelevant to how your business is taxed. The way your business is taxed is solely impacted by the type of business entity you establish. However, be aware that in South Carolina, four considerations can affect your fees and taxes based on the different levels of government — city, county, state, and federal. However, this is based on the type of business you choose, not your DBA name.
To help navigate the ins and outs of business filings in South Carolina, contact ZenBusiness today. Our business formation and compliance experts can take out the guesswork and ensure your company has completed all of the necessary paperwork, leaving you to focus on growing your South Carolina small business.