I researched the 19 leading South Carolina LLC services. After investigating these services, I picked the top 4 best and tested each one. These are my findings and top picks for the best South Carolina LLC formation service.
|Northwest Registered Agent|
South Carolina LLC Brief Summary
- LLC Formation Speed – Standard filing takes seven business days; expedited filings take two business days
- The cost to file an AR LLC is $45, plus the fee for the LLC service if you use one.
- How to file your Articles of Organization online or by mail (a $5 fee applies for mail-in filings).
- Annual reports: This package includes the annual franchise tax. A minimum $150 fee is required by May 1 each year.
- State General Business License – Not required, but often required at the county/city level. However, industry licenses might be required.
- PLLCs are required for all businesses offering professional services
Best South Carolina LLC Formation Services
Although LLC formation services can be a great help, not all LLC formation services will be the same.
Some are better due to price differences, extras (or exclusions), and overall quality. You don’t have the time to sort through all of them.
We’ve done all the legwork for you and compared top LLC formation services. We have included important factors, such as cost and ongoing fees. These are the top four services for LLC formation.
#1 Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest Registered Agent has 50 offices in 50 states, and they have more industry experience than their competition.
South Carolina LLC formations with Northwest are discounted for our readers, just $39, and you also get a year of free registered agent service. This keeps your start-up costs low. Northwest is our top choice, and it’s a service that puts customer service above all else.
- LLC Formation Plan:
- Registration agent service: $125 per year, but the first is completely free
- Customer Support: Northwest assigns an account representative to each South Carolina customer, ensuring they receive prompt and personalized service.
- LLC Services: Northwest keeps the order form simple – no upsells clutter the process.
- User Reviews: Google reviews are great. Reviews on 3rd-party review websites are mostly positive.
- Better Business Bureau: Northwest has a BBB rating of A- and the Northwest customer reviews on the BBB website have an average rating of 4.4/5
Incfile can be a great choice if you are concerned about starting up costs. They offer a free South Carolina LLC registration and do not require fees for the first year. A “free LLC” may be good for some, but Incfile needs to make money somehow. This can be done by upselling needed features at a lofty price. And ask Incfile if they plan to sell your private information.
If privacy is important to you, Northwest emphasizes customer privacy more than any other LLC service I know.
Incfile may not have as many bonus features as its competitors. Still, they offer all the essentials for an additional fee: filing an EIN and registering a DBA, filing annual reports, and others.
- LLC Formation plans: $0, $199, $299
- Registration agent service: First Year Free, then $119/year
- Customer Support: Incfile recently increased their customer service team, which improved their response times. This is a significant improvement in their previous performance.
- LLC Service: Everything is straightforward when ordering a package through Incfile. There are not a lot of pricey and confusing add-ons.
- Customer Reviews: Strong. More than 98% of 21,000+ Shopper Approved reviews are positive
- Better Business Bureau: Incfile has great reviews on the BBB webpage. They have 1698 reviews with an average rating of 4.7/5. Incfile had an A+ rating with the BBB for 16 years straight. In 2020 and 2021, they had some issues and delays and lost their BBB rating. Currently, their rating is being reviewed.
Thanks to competitive technology and a dedication to affordability, ZenBusiness has one of the most affordable formation-plus-registered-agent packages available. ZenBusiness provides South Carolina registered agent services at an additional cost of $119/yr.
You can choose the Pro package ($199 annually) for a flat annual fee to get business formation, registered agent service, and an operating agreement template.
- LLC Formation plan: Starting from $49
- Registered agent service $99 per month, $119 annually
- Customer Support: ZenBusiness provides good customer service due to its smaller customer base and individual attention.
- LLC services: ZenBusiness provides useful tools to track annual reports. However, the ordering process can be confusing.
- User Reviews: Positive reviews on Trustpilot
LegalZoom is a great way to get involved with a well-known brand.
LegalZoom was founded in 2001 and has grown to offer hundreds of services. LegalZoom is more expensive than other South Carolina LLC services listed in this guide. LegalZoom is not the only option if you need a complete legal service.
- LLC Formation plan: Starting at $79 plus state fees for a minimum of $229
- Registered agent service $249/year (first year $159 if you add to a formation package).
- Customer Support: LegalZoom is a large company so its customer service may not be as personal as the other listed companies.
- Easy of use: Many customers have complained that LegalZoom’s ordering process is confusing and lengthy. Numerous upsells are offered before you can choose your package.
- User Reviews: Mixed. Most negative reviews are due to a misunderstanding of the ongoing fees and package offerings
More and more entrepreneurs are turning to LLC services for creating business entities. The number is in the millions. Incfile alone has helped create over 500,000 businesses.
It can be difficult to start a business. There is a lot to do, so many people become overwhelmed by the legal processes: filing taxes, obtaining business licenses and permits, and filling out the forms.
South Carolina has requirements to ensure compliance, such as hiring a registered agent or filing annual reports.
LLC services handle most of the work for you. They simply need to know a little bit about you and your company, and they will start your business for you. This is legal and allows you to concentrate on other aspects of your business. Many LLC services also offer registered agent services to help you maintain compliance.
Now let me point out a few more names in the online LLC formation space. I’m not recommending any of these other services, I’m just mentioning them for your consideration.
Tier 2 – Other South Carolina LLC Services
Swyft Filings was launched in 2012 and is the latest service for LLC formation.
Prices start at $49 + state fee. If you need an EIN and LLC operating agreement, the price is $299 + state fee. Swyft Filings charges $149/year for registered agent services.
$299 + $149 = $448 + state fee Wow, that’s pricey! 😧
MyCompanyWorks has a basic package that costs $79 and includes assistance with Articles of Organization, Operating Agreement assistance, an online portal to store legal documents, compliance alerts, and assistance with registering with the South Carolina Secretary of State.
They have maintained mostly positive reviews online. You will need to buy their premium package for $279 if you want an South Carolina registered agent.
Inc Authority, like IncFile, allows you to file your company formation paperwork free of charge, but each additional offer comes at an additional cost. Ask the “free LLC” if they plan to sell your private information. I believe the “Free LLC” is a gimmick just to get you in the door. Yes, their filing service is “free” plus the state fee.
You will need to buy their $399 basic package if you require assistance drafting an Operating Agreement or accessing an EIN. You will also need to buy their premium $799 package if you want to receive express processing.
Tailor Brands is a bit different than the others on my list. Like their name says, they build brands. Tailor Brands promotes itself as a one-stop-shop that provides a complete service to entrepreneurs, including compliance and LLC formation, logo design, and branding features. Tailor Brands offers three formation plans.
Incorporate.com offers a $99 base package that includes very few services, similar to Rocket Lawyer or LegalZoom. They offer an online storage portal, assistance in filing your Articles of Organization, and nothing else.
CorpNet has been in business for over 20 years. They will file the initial LLC documents and provide compliance alerts in order to maintain good standing with the Secretary of State. All for $79.
MyCorporation is owned and operated by the check printing company Deluxe Corp. Their formation services are like many others on our list. They charge $133 to prepare your Operating Agreement and process your Articles of Organization. Each additional, comprehensive service comes at an additional cost.
Incorporate Fast offers South Carolina LLC formation services at a low $99 price. This includes assistance with filing documents, assistance with filing them, and an Operating Agreement template.
They offer “same-day” filings. They will process and file your documents within 24 hours of receipt.
If you can upgrade to their $199 package you get an EIN.
BizFilings, another South Carolina LLC provider, charges $99 for the basic package. This includes assistance in filing your formation documents and a year of their registered agent services. Like each of the LLC services, they have additional features for additional fees.
Similar to LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer offers online legal services. They also offer other services such as registering an agent, filing your formation documents, and an online document storage portal. If you like having access to ongoing legal assistance for a fee, Rocket Lawyer might be a good fit for you.
Active Filings is another LLC Formation service based in Dania Beach, Florida. Active Filings has been in business since 2001 but is still a small player in this industry. According to the company website, they have only four employees.
Direct Incorporation offers the same services that MyCorporation but includes a banking resolution as well as an Employer Identification number. They charge $174 for these services. If you need an LLC operating agreement, you need to get the next package at $297. They also offer logo design, trademarks, a business website, and email.
InCorp costs $99. plus state fees to file your Articles of Organization. Registered agent services are $129 per year.
Nationwide Incorporation offers basic filing services for $200, and for $475, you get an LLC operating agreement. You get to talk to an attorney. Pricey!
SunDoc Filings has a $79 base package for filing your Articles of Organization. $70 for an EIN and $69 for an LLC operating agreement.
What is an South Carolina LLC?
An South Carolina LLC, short for the limited liability company, is an entity type that combines flexibility and protection of a sole proprietorship with corporate assets. That’s not a bad thing. Let’s find out what this means.
You would operate as sole proprietorship if you started selling handcrafted apparel out of your home. Sole proprietorships are legal entities.
This means that everything the business owns, from fabrics to sewing machines, is owned solely by the proprietor. The proprietor pays all taxes. If the business is sued or taken to court by a third party, the owner may lose all of his or her personal property to pay the damages.
Registered entities, such as LLCs, have personal asset protection. This is because the business itself is considered an independent legal entity. The business can have assets, open a bank account, and be sued. If the business goes under, members of the company cannot lose their assets.
LLCs aren’t subject to a lot of complex requirements, unlike corporations. This makes it an attractive choice for entrepreneurs who want to keep their filings simple and still protect their assets.
Pros and cons of starting a limited liability company in South Carolina
An LLC is one of the most common types of entity in America. However, it’s not the right type of entity for everyone.
Only you know your business best and can choose the entity type most appropriate for you. Your vision is clear for the future and your products.
It’s important to understand the pros and cons of LLCs to decide if an LLC is right for your needs.
- It is easier to create and manage than a corporation
- Protection of personal assets
- A flexible tax structure can be paid as a partnership (or a corporation)
- Exclusive use of a business name within a state is prohibited
- No authority can issue stock. Therefore, capital raising opportunities are limited.
- Some states have higher annual fees and taxes than sole proprietorships or partnerships.
- Some entrepreneurs may not be comfortable with the extra paperwork.
How to set up an South Carolina LLC on your own
You don’t need to use an LLC formation service such as LegalZoom or Zen Business. While these services can be extremely helpful, you can also save money by doing it yourself.
Our complete guide on how to set up an LLC in South Carolina is available here. But, let’s take a look at this:
Choose a company name
South Carolina LLCs need a memorable name that can give potential clients an idea of the products or services available. Names should be unique for both legal and business reasons.
Appoint a Registered Agent in South Carolina
As we have mentioned, every LLC requires an agent to accept service of process on its behalf. You can be your own registered agent in most states as long as there is a physical address. However, we recommend that you appoint another person (e.g. an online service) as your agent.
File the Articles for Organization
Once completed and filed, this document officially forms your South Carolina business. Some important information will be required, such as your contact information, business address, signatures of your LLC members and other details. South Carolina charges a $45 filing fee.
It’s easy to set up an LLC. However, it is the maintenance requirements that can be a little more difficult.
Register and pay taxes
You will need an IRS Employer Identification Number if you have employees. There are also state-specific taxes. South Carolina has graduated income taxes. Individual rates are between 5% to 6.9% and corporate rates between 1% to 6.5%. The Franchise Tax is the largest tax burden. Other taxes, such as sales taxes (6.5%) or miscellaneous taxes, will need to be included. You can find more information at the South Carolina Department of Finance and Administration.
Get permits and licenses
South Carolina does not have a general business license, but many cities and counties do require one. You might also need to apply in order for an industry license. A complete list of professional licenses can be found at the South Carolina Division of Workforce Services.
Create an South Carolina LLC Operating Agreement
Even single-member LLCs need to create a master document that outlines how the business will function in the future.
Get your annual report.
South Carolina’ annual report is a companion to the annual franchise tax. You will file your South Carolina annual report with the Department of Finance and Administration and not with the Secretary of State. A minimum tax is $150 per year.
Get business insurance
All businesses with employees need to have workers’ compensation insurance. A general business liability policy may be an option.
Open a bank account for your business
Register for a bank account in your business name to write checks and make business purchases
My Research for Choosing the Best South Carolina LLC Services
This is how I found which Limited Liability Company service (LLC service) is the best in South Carolina.
I formed an LLC a few years ago and did a lot of research before doing so. Because I have spent so much time on this subject, I believe I am very capable of finding and recommending the best LLC formation services. I also recommend using a registered agent service rather than being your own.
How did I research and choose the best LLC service in South Carolina?
My research approach included these four steps to select the best South Carolina LLC formation service.
Step 1: Reviews
I began by analyzing the reviews of online customers for the top 19 LLC services in South Carolina.
I spent many nights scrolling through the customer feedback on Trustpilot and Google Business Profiles (among other review websites) to discover which LLC services were new, which seemed questionable, and which were legitimate.
Step 2: Website Analysis
Once I had a good idea of who I could trust, I could go to their websites and see exactly what they offered.
To find out who offered what products or business services, I looked through pricing pages and looked at detailed breakdowns.
Step 3: Talking with real customers
Online customer reviews are only one way to learn. To truly understand the experience of using a service, it is important to talk to the people who use it.
I sought out the opinions of customers who I had recommended to me over the years in order to get a clear understanding of South Carolina LLC services. I wanted to know how easy the system was, how helpful and polite their support staff is, and how fast they process applications.
This direct feedback from customers helped me to see which promises were fakes and which were legitimate.
Step 4: Talking with their Sales Team
The last step was to talk to their sales team to find out how difficult they were with upsells.
I asked several questions that a first-timer would. Then I waited to see how many times I was encouraged to get additional services.
My Testing and Rating Criteria for South Carolina LLC Services
While I was completing my investigative analysis, I was constantly evaluating these LLC formation services on the basis of these four aspects.
1: Features and Services
There are many steps involved in starting an LLC. If you have read at least half of the above, you will know this. Fill out and file your Articles of Organization. You will need an EIN to open bank accounts. Choose a premium registered agent in to get an address in South Carolina. And a lot more.
To ensure you get as many completed projects as possible when you invest your money, I first assessed each LLC formation company on the business and product services they offer.
I checked if they charge extra for a lot of pricey add-ons that are not mentioned at first. I liked the very clear services and upfront with everything. The best value LLC formation services rose to the top.
3: Ease of use
It’s a good idea to sign up for a business formation service that offers a variety of products at a reasonable price without any trouble navigating their system.
I created an account with each South Carolina LLC formation service and attempted to register my fictional LLC. This was to ensure that all the systems were easy to use and simple to navigate.
4: Customer service
I was not satisfied with customer service experiences after the recent corporate trend to outsource customer support to unaffiliated phone centers. These representatives know little about the service they are supporting and the laws and regulations that it is subject to.
I did my best to test their customer service teams to determine the quality of their business formation services. I sent them polite questions, called them to inquire about obvious information, and jumped onto their online chat portals. I also complained of inappropriate things. I wanted to know how they dealt with my comments and requests, and how fast it took for them to reply.
My Findings for the Best South Carolina LLC Service
My investigative analysis resulted in my picking Northwest Registered Agent as the Best LLC Service for South Carolina.
My #1 Recommended LLC Formation Service
Northwest Registered Agent
Offices in 50 States
Northwest's Google My Business Profile