If you own a South Carolina business and would like to use a different name than your legal business name, you will need to register a “doing business as” or DBA name with the state. Also called an assumed name, fictitious business name, or trade name, DBA names are typically used when you want to use multiple names for one business, or if you are a sole proprietor wanting to be recognized as something other than your legal name.
Want to learn more? This guide will cover the basics of what a DBA name is, the rules for choosing, registering, and maintaining one in the Palmetto State, and how we can help make the process easier.
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:
Businesses may find the use of a DBA name advantageous for several reasons, including the following benefits:
Continue reading for a detailed overview of how to obtain your 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.
The following steps can be done to register your DBA name in South Carolina:
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.
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 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.
The content on this page is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.
Fees are subject to change over time, and will vary according to the town, city, and county in which you register. Check the Secretary of State or county clerk’s website for the most current fee schedule regarding DBA registration and renewal.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
South Carolina Business Resources
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.
Most Popular States to Get a DBA Name
When it comes to compliance, costs, and other factors, these are popular states for filing a DBA.
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