Do You Need a Registered Agent in South Carolina?


If you own a business entity in South Carolina, you’re required to maintain a South Carolina registered agent. But a registered agent is also an incredibly beneficial business service that you should take advantage of. 

South Carolina registered agents are so important to the business formation process that you can scarcely complete the process without one. And when it comes to compliance, you won’t find another business service that’s more useful. 

If this all sounds confusing, keep reading. I’ll tell you all about what a registered agent is, how it can help your business out, and why you need one for your South Carolina business. 

What Is a Registered Agent in South Carolina?

A registered agent in South Carolina is a person or business entity that agrees to receive service of process, business mail, important legal notices, and tax notices on behalf of your company at your registered office address during normal business hours. 

It may seem illogical to send your mail and legal documents to a different address for someone else to receive. Surely you need these important legal notices so that you can keep them for your records, or handle critical legal issues as they occur. Well, that’s why another big part of registered agent service involves document delivery. 

Your South Carolina registered agent will use basic mail forwarding or an online document delivery system to make sure that you receive your mail, service of process (in the unfortunate circumstance that you’re sued), and legal documents. The really good South Carolina registered agents also issue compliance alerts or annual report reminders so that you don’t miss any important filing deadlines with the South Carolina Secretary of State. 

In some instances, a registered agent in South Carolina can also be referred to as a statutory agent or resident agent. But if you see these terms, just remember that they’re all synonyms for the same thing. 

What Is the Purpose of a Registered Agent in South Carolina?

Some people get it into their heads that they can set up a PO box for their business and then periodically check it to meet their legal obligations. This won’t work, and I’ll tell you why.

Your South Carolina registered agent is required to be physically present at the physical street address of your business during regular business hours to accept service of process, certified mail, and court documents on behalf of your SC business. The key words there are physical and present. So you can’t just turn up to check your PO box whenever you feel like it. 

Beyond this, there are a number of things your registered agent in South Carolina can do!


It can be difficult for any business owner to remember their compliance filing deadlines—especially since many of them only come once a year. But a quality South Carolina registered agent can make it a lot easier because they’ll keep track of these dates for you. 

Your registered agent in South Carolina is a sort of middleman between your business and government agencies (like the IRS and the Secretary of State). So when these important filing deadlines approach, they’ll let you know about them. Some of the best registered agent services will send out compliance notifications for worry-free compliance, which ensures that you won’t miss an important deadline or lose your company’s good-standing status. 

Management of Important Documents

Many quality registered agent services supply online document management systems into which they scan and upload your service of process, business mail, and legal documents on the same day they receive them. One of the biggest perks of this feature is that you can access these documents the same day using an online account. 

An online document management system is faster than basic mail forwarding because it’s not dependent on the notoriously slow postal system, which is often referred to as “snail mail” for a reason. But it’s also convenient because you won’t have piles of mail and documents stacking up at your work or home. 

Who Can Be a Registered Agent in South Carolina?

A lot of the requirements for registered agents across the United States are somewhat universal. Here are some of the requirements your registered agent in South Carolina will be expected to meet: 

  • State requirements. Some states have legal guidelines that specify the requirements of registered agents. Just to make sure that your registered agent in South Carolina dots all the i’s and crosses all the t’s, you need to read up on state laws about registered agents. 
  • 18+ years old. Every South Carolina registered agent is required to be at least 18 years of age. 
  • Physical address. Your registered agent in South Carolina is required to use a physical street address in the state, and PO boxes aren’t permitted. 
  • Who you can designate. There aren’t any restrictions when it comes to choosing your South Carolina registered agent, as long as they meet the requirements. So you’re free to designate a friend, family member, employee, or your lawyer. But remember that the person you designate needs to be free during normal business hours, as well as someone you can fully trust with the maintenance of your business.

What Happens If My Business Operates Without a Registered Agent?

If your South Carolina registered agent happens to step away and isn’t present at your business address during normal business hours and a process server attempts to deliver service of process to your company, it can set off a chain of events that’s quite detrimental to your business. 

In most cases, the process server will deliver the service of process to the South Carolina Secretary of State. What’s the big deal about your legal mail being delivered to the Secretary of State? Well, now this government office has your notice and you don’t, so you have no idea that legal proceedings are taking place against your company. 

In this situation, a judge may issue a default judgment against your company that could have negative consequences for you. 

Also, since it’s illegal for business entities to not maintain a registered agent in South Carolina, the Secretary of State could revoke your company’s good standing. This could prevent your business from expanding to other states. It could become ineligible for business loans, and it could even be prohibited from conducting business in South Carolina. 

Because your business name reservation is no longer valid without your good-standing status, other companies could reserve your business name for themselves. Even if you move swiftly to clear up this legal issue, you could permanently lose your business name, which is a real bummer. 

If you’re the business owner of a limited liability company, your business could be especially troubled by losing its good-standing status. Without good-standing status, the South Carolina Secretary of State could initiate “administrative dissolution.” This is a legal term used to describe the process of automatically dissolving a limited liability company because it failed to fulfill its legal duties, like maintaining a South Carolina registered agent or filing annual reports on time. 

Without legal recognition for your South Carolina LLC, you no longer have limited liability protection. This means that if for some reason your company is sued, the business owner (you) is considered responsible for the company. In other words, if your company gets into legal trouble and you don’t have limited liability protection, all the money and personal assets you’ve worked so hard to build up are on the line. 

Don’t think you’re safe if you don’t own a South Carolina LLC, either. Failure to maintain a South Carolina registered agent can result in legal fallout for any business entity, which includes corporations, sole proprietorships, and limited liability partnerships, as well as LLCs. 

Can I Be My Own Registered Agent in South Carolina? 

No state specifies that you aren’t allowed to be your own agent. However, you should check into the benefits and advantages of being your own registered agent and then weigh them against hiring a South Carolina registered agent service. 

Cons of Being Your Own Registered Agent


One of the biggest downfalls of being your own registered agent involves the negative consequences of missing a service of process. Your business could lose its good-standing status, have default judgments issued against it, and more. It’s best to avoid all that nonsense! 

Lack of Privacy

If you’re your own registered agent and your company doesn’t have a physical location or street address, you must list your own address, as well as other personal information, on the public record. It doesn’t take much information for hackers and cybercriminals to steal your identity or commit other crimes in your name.

And when you think about it, isn’t there just something creepy about everyone being able to get their hands on your name, address, and phone number and knowing where you live and how to reach you? 


A lot of business owners decide against becoming their own agents once they learn of the job’s time constraints. As a South Carolina registered agent, you’re required to be physically present at the registered office address during business hours to receive service of process, documents, and notices on behalf of your company. 

Coincidentally, your business probably operates during normal business hours. This creates a scheduling conflict that makes being your own agent and properly managing your business nearly impossible. 

Pros of Being Your Own Registered Agent

There’s one good aspect of being your own registered agent: you aren’t required to pay a South Carolina registered agent service. A lot of people get hung up on this detail and it blinds them to all the drawbacks associated with the job. 

But when you look at the big picture, things like the risks of missing a service of process, having your personal information listed on the public record, and working two full-time jobs, you may decide that being your own registered agent isn’t the bargain you initially thought it was. Registered agent services don’t typically cost much in comparison, anyway. 

Should I Use a Registered Agent Service?

There are several reasons that business owners use registered agent services. 

  • A good registered agent service will send you compliance alerts so that you won’t forget about important filing deadlines.
  • You won’t miss a service of process, lose your company’s good-standing status, have legal trouble with the South Carolina Secretary of State, or have default judgments issued against your company. 
  • Because you aren’t weighed down by working two full-time jobs (as a South Carolina registered agent and a business owner), you’re able to do a better job of managing your business. 
  • Companies that do business in multiple states can choose a national registered agent service to meet all their compliance needs rather than hiring a different registered agent for each state. 
  • Businesses that don’t observe normal business hours (gas stations, restaurants, 24-hour services) can use a South Carolina registered agent service so that they can get some well-deserved rest at the end of the day. 
  • Businesses are sent a ludicrous volume of junk mail, and a South Carolina registered agent service can deal with that annoyance for you. 
  • Some registered agent providers offer premium registered agent services, such as identity theft protection or payment of state fees.
  • Some registered agent services also offer business formation services, which is incredibly handy if you haven’t established your business yet. You can take advantage of offers like free registered agent service for a year. 

What Is the Best Registered Agent Service?

When it comes to choosing the best registered agent service, there are several factors to consider. Here are some of the most important things you should look at when choosing your company’s registered agent. 

Service Features

With a market chock-full of registered agent providers with comprehensive service catalogs, there’s no logical reason to choose a registered agent that doesn’t supply all the services you need for your business. 

Some registered agent services will only give you a compliance calendar filled with your important compliance filing deadlines, but it’s easily lost or forgotten about. Other registered agent service providers will issue compliance alerts for worry-free compliance so that you won’t miss important filing deadlines or lose your company’s good-standing status with the South Carolina Secretary of State. 

Some registered agent service companies only offer basic mail-forwarding service, which relies on the excruciatingly slow postal system. Other registered agent services supply online document-management systems, which not only provide you with faster access to things like service of process and mail, it also gives you a digital method to store your business documents. 

Make sure you choose a registered agent service that provides all the services you need. 


You can generally determine the quality of a registered agent service by weighing its offerings against its fee. A registered agent service company with a skimpy service list and big price tag doesn’t offer much value. 

With that being said, you should steer clear of “budget agents.” These deceptive registered agent companies use prices as low as $39–$59 to bait new customers and then charge extra fees for essentials like online document-management systems or compliance alerts. So avoid budget registered agent services at all costs.

Easy Sign-Up 

If you’re one of those people that gets annoyed with the email verification portion of online sign-ups, you’ll be flabbergasted by the complicated sign-up process of some registered agent providers. 

Some registered agent companies make you fill out loads of paperwork, jump through all the hoops, and then their sign-up process still takes weeks or months to complete. So that you don’t feel like your time is being wasted unnecessarily, choose a registered agent that has a quick and easy sign-up process. 

User-Friendly Interface 

Some registered agent providers have systems that are a nightmare to use. They’re full of glitches and technical issues, and they’re clunky, complicated, and slow. And the biggest headache of all of this is that you’ll use the registered agent system regularly, so you really want it to work well. You can completely avoid this annoyance by using a registered agent service that has an easy-to-use system.

Customer Service 

Even the best registered agent services experience technical issues with their systems or have customers with questions about their business services. And because your registered agent is so important to your business’s livelihood, it’s absolutely vital that it has outstanding customer service. 

I combined these rating factors with my four-stage investigative process to identify Northwest Registered Agent as the best registered agent service. If you want to learn more about the types of services registered agents offer, or how to pick the best registered agent for your company, read the Best Registered Agent Services.


As a new business owner in South Carolina, there’s an insane amount of information you’re expected to learn: the latest business management techniques, how to use various types of business software and equipment, legal and business terms, and the different business laws and regulations in South Carolina. 

On top of all of that, you also have to deal with compliance filing deadlines for your South Carolina business. The good news is that South Carolina registered agent services take care of a lot of that work for you so that you can rest easy. 

If you’ve yet to legally establish your business entity in South Carolina and you’d like to learn more about the LLC formation process, read my guide on How to Start an LLC. If you’d like the extra peace of mind that comes from expert guidance throughout the formation process, read my article on the Best LLC Formation Services

South Carolina Registered Agent FAQs

What’s the Difference Between a Commercial and a Noncommercial Registered Agent?

The difference between a commercial registered agent and a noncommercial registered agent in South Carolina is that a commercial registered agent is a professional registered agent service that’s registered with the South Carolina Secretary of State as a commercial agent. In some places, all professional registered agent service providers are required to register as commercial agents, so check about the legal requirements in South Carolina. 

A noncommercial registered agent is any individual or business entity that hasn’t registered as a commercial registered agent in South Carolina. If you’ve designated a family member as your South Carolina registered agent, then their official job description is noncommercial registered agent. It sounds a lot more official, right? 

How Do I Change the Registered Agent for My LLC?

Changing your registered agent in South Carolina is a relatively simple process. All you have to do is fill out a Notice of Change of Registered Agent form. You’ll need to include information about your new registered agent’s name and address. Once you’ve completed the form you can submit it to the South Carolina Secretary of State, Business Filings Division, along with a payment of $10 for state fees. 

How Much Does a Registered Agent Cost? 

The cost of your South Carolina registered agent can vary depending on which South Carolina registered agent provider you choose and which registered agent services you need. But, typically a registered agent in South Carolina can cost anywhere from $39–$299 per state, per year (plus state fees). 

If you want to know more about registered agent pricing, read the Best Registered Agent Services

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