South Carolina Secretary of State — Business Entities Online
1205 Pendleton St., Ste. 525, Columbia, SC 29201
How to Do a South Carolina Business Search:
Before you can apply for a name reservation or file formation documents, you will need to ensure that your desired business name is available by performing business entity and trademark searches using the applicable online search tools.
Conduct a South Carolina business search online.
Go to the South Carolina SOS website.
The SOS's Business Entities Online system will allow you to determine whether your desired business name is available in the state.
It's important to note that this is only a preliminary search. You'll only receive official confirmation after the SOS has received and processed your entity formation documents.
Use the online tool to search your business name.
The business name availability tool is very easy to use. In the drop-down list under "Search by Business Name," select the "Exact Match" filter. Next, enter your preferred business name in the space provided and click "Search."
To search for variations of your name, you'll want to select "Contains" from the drop-down list to check for a general keyword or phrase, such as "plumbing services." The database would then bring up all instances of that phrase, e.g., "A to Z Plumbing Services."
Selecting "Starts With" will enable you to search just the first word of your name. For example, if your desired name was "Frank's Plumbing Services," by entering the first word —"Frank" — the database would bring up all variations of that word, such as "Frank's" and "Franks."
Be sure to search alternate spellings and similar names to ensure that your preferred business name does not clash with those of other businesses in the database.
View the search results.
If you selected the "Exact Match" filter and the database lists an identical name to your preferred business name, you will see a message stating "This name is currently being used."
If the search does not yield any results, a message stating "This name is available" will pop up. In this case, your name is likely available to use. However, you will first need to conduct state and federal trademark searches to be absolutely certain that you can adopt the name.
If you selected the "Starts With" or "Contains" filters, the tool will list all entities with matching and similar names to your proposed name. A table listing each entity by name, incorporation date, as well as entity type and status will be displayed. You can click on each entity name to view more information about that particular business.
Additional South Carolina business search steps.
Perform trademark searches.
Trademark searches are advisable as the business search outlined above is limited to business names registered with the state and does not include state or federal trademarks.
To search state trademarks and service marks, go to the South Carolina SOS trademark web page, which provides a daily updated list of all trademarks and service marks registered with the state. Simply download the PDF file below "Trademark Search" on the right of the page.
Once you have ascertained that you will not be infringing on another entity's trademark or service mark, you should search the United States Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO) trademark database to check that there are no conflicting federal trademarks.
File a name reservation.
If your name is available, but you do not wish to register your business right away, you can apply to reserve your name for a period of 120 days.
To do this, you can navigate to the SOS downloadable paper forms page, download and complete the applicable form, and submit it to the SOS. The filing fee ranges from $10.00 to $25.00, depending on the type of entity you wish to reserve a name for.