What Business Licenses and Permits are Needed in South Carolina?

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Quick Reference

Starting a business in South Carolina will mean potentially registering with a number of federal, state and local agencies.  Let’s take a look at common licenses and permits a business will register for in South Carolina.

Business License – There is no general state of South Carolina business license, however most cities and some counties require businesses to be licensed in order to operate. The rules and cost of a business license will vary depending on the city and what the business does.  Below are a few cities that have licensing requirements. 

Columbia – The City of Columbia Business License Division issues business licenses to every person engaged or intending to engage in an business, occupation or profession within city limits.

Charleston All businesses operating within city limits are required to obtain a business license for each location from the Revenue Collections Division. In addition, a zoning permit may be needed for commercial or home-based businesses.

Mount Pleasant – The Mount Pleasant Business License Division requires all businesses to register

Rock Hill – All businesses operating within the city limits of Rock Hill will need to register for a business license with the Rock Hill Planning & Development Department.  Home-based businesses are also required to register and will need zoning approval.

Employer Identification Number (EIN) – Many businesses will register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an EIN or Employer Identification Number.  The EIN is the business equivalent for a Social Security Number for an individual.  Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships and Sole Proprietorships with employees will all need to register for one. Sole Proprietorships without employees can use the owner’s Social Security Number. 

There is no cost for an EIN and it only takes a few minutes to get.

Learn how to apply for an EIN.

South Carolina Retail License – Businesses selling physical products and certain services in South Carolina will need to register for a South Carolina Retail License from the Department of Revenue. The cost of this license is $50.

Artists and crafters selling products at arts and craft shows and festivals are also required to get a special retail license from the Department of Revenue. This license is referred to as an Artists and Craftsmen license and is offered at a reduced cost versus the retail license for $20. 

Resale Certificate – Businesses purchasing merchandise to resell will usually want to obtain a South Carolina Resale Certificate in order to not pay sales tax for merchandise that is being resold to customers.

Professional License – A variety of professions in the state are regulated and need to be registered before offering certain services.  A few common professions that require licensing in South Carolina include; barbers, massage therapists, landscapers and many more.   Additional information, fees and licensing requirements for professions are available from the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

In addition to professional licenses from the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, businesses in a variety of industries such as food establishments, daycares, salvage yards and many others also require licensing.

Assumed Name Registration – While not a business license, it’s common for Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships operating under a name that is different from the full name of the owner(s) to register for an Assumed Name (also known as a Doing Business As or DBA) with the County Clerk’s Office in the county where the business is located.


These are a few of the most common business licenses, but there are way too many licenses and permits in South Carolina for us to keep track of. Before starting your business, check with the City Hall, County Clerk, Chamber of Commerce and/or Economic Developer in your area to get more information regarding business licensing.  Additionally, there are companies like IncFile or CorpNet that can do the research to ensure you have the proper federal, state and local licenses.