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A retail license is required of every person in the business of selling tangible personal property at retail in South Carolina. A license must be obtained for each location of a business selling tangible personal property at retail. (Since the sales tax law applies to certain services, a retail license is required for each location selling at retail any service specifically subject to the sales tax.) Services that are subject to the sales and use tax include, but are not limited to: furnishing accommodations, dry cleaning and laundry service, electricity, communication services, shoe repairmen, and jewelry repairmen.
A use tax registration is of any business or nonprofit organization that is not licensed as a retailer and that regularly purchases tangible personal property for its own use from outside the state (not for resale) upon which the South Carolina sales or use tax has not been collected from the purchaser. (Since the use tax law applies to certain services, a use tax registration is required of any business or nonprofit organization that is not licensed as a retailer and that regularly purchases such a service for its own use from outside the state (not for resale) upon which the South Carolina sales or use tax has not been collected from the purchaser.)
Note: Retailers do not need to obtain a separate use tax registration since the sales tax return provides them the opportunity to remit the use tax on any property or service purchased for their own use (not for resale).A retail license may be required of out-of-state retailers who have no physical presence in South Carolina (remote sellers) if they meet certain requirements.
A retail license, accommodations license, or a withholding number may be obtained by mail, online or in person. To obtain a license or withholding number by mail, complete Form
SCDOR-111 and mail the application, along with the $50.00 fee for the retail or accommodations license, to:
SC Department of Revenue Registration Section PO Box 125 Columbia, SC 29214-0140
There is no charge for a South Carolina withholding number. To obtain a license or withholding number online, go to
To obtain a license or withholding number in person, visit Taxpayer Service Center.
It is important to note that you may be required to obtain a local business license from your city or county, so you must check with your local officials prior to transacting business. Many cities and counties also have a local hospitality license that applies to an accommodations or food service business which must be obtained prior to conducting that specific business.
To obtain a retail license, a person
(a) must be engaged in the business of selling tangible personal property, or one of the specifically taxed services, at retail;
(b) must complete an application;
(c) must remit the $50.00 fee with the application; and
(d) must not have any outstanding tax liabilities of any kind with the SCDOR.
A retail license is only valid for the one specific location; however, the SCDOR also issues (i) a transient license to a business that does not have a permanent location in the state of South Carolina but only operates at one location at a time and (ii) an artist or craftsman license that may only be used at one location at a time.
A retail license is for the purpose of selling as a business tangible personal property, or one of the specifically taxed services, at retail. For example, if a clothing store owner expands to begin selling furniture at the same location, a new retail license is not needed since both clothing and furniture are tangible personal property and the location where the sale take place has not changed.
A landscaper is a contractor that provides a service and is considered the user or consumer of the plants and other supplies the landscaper buys to provide this service. Therefore, a landscaper is not entitled to obtain a retail license unless the landscaper has a “second” business of regularly selling tangible personal property (plants, grass sod, etc.) at retail.
For example, a landscaper that only contracts to provide landscaping improvements to a general contractor of residential homes is not entitled to a retail license. However, if this landscaper also operates a retail nursery or rents indoor, potted plants, then it will need a retail license for the nursery or rental business.
If the service you are providing is not one of the specifically taxed services under the sales and use tax, then you would not need a retail license.
To see a list of the services that may be taxable, see Chapter 117-308 of the
SC Code of Regulations.
If your entity is a manufacturer, the products used in the manufacturing process may be bought tax free. Also individuals engaging in the business of wholesaling products are eligible for an exemption which allows them to purchase at wholesale and sell to another wholesaler or retailer who is going to resell the product. To apply for this exemption, complete the form
ST-10 in its entirety and mail to: SCDOR, License and Registration, Columbia SC 29214-0140.
Companies that have entered into contracts with the Federal Government are eligible for an exemption from the sales tax in South Carolina. To apply for this exemption, complete the form
ST-10G and mail to: SCDOR, License and Registration, Columbia SC 29214-0140.
Nonprofit organizations who are engaged in the business of buying products and reselling them are also eligible for a sales tax exemption. To apply for this exemption, complete the form
ST-387 and mail to: SCDOR, License and Registration, Columbia SC 29214-0140.
Nonprofit organizations that provide meals or food stuff to the elderly or disabled at home, foodstuff for the homeless or needy or meals prepared and packaged that are sold to public or nonprofit organizations are eligible for an exemption from the Sales Tax. To apply for that exemption, complete the form
ST-396 and mail to: SCDOR, License and Registration, Columbia SC 29214-0140.
Certain organizations that charge a fee for the right or the privilege to enter into or use a place or location may be eligible for an admissions tax exemption. To apply for an admissions tax exemption, complete the form
L-2068 and mail to: SCDOR, License and Registration, Columbia SC 29214-0140.
To determine if a retail license is needed for one of these events you must first determine if you are making sales at a Special Event or a Retail Event.
A SPECIAL EVENT is a promotional show, trade show, fair, festival, or carnival for which an admissions fee IS required for entering the event. The event must be operated for a period of less than 12 consecutive days. If you are operating at a Special Event and this is a single appearance in South Carolina within a 24 month period that spans 12 months prior to the event date and 12 months after the event date, then you would not be required to purchase a retail license. If you will be conducting sales more than once in the 24 month period or will be operating multiple locations in the state, then you will be required to register for a South Carolina retail license and then collect and remit the South Carolina sales tax.
A RETAIL EVENT is a promotional show, trade show, fair, festival, or carnival for which an admissions fee is NOT required for entering the event. If you are operating at a Retail Event, you will be required to register for a retail license to collect and remit the South Carolina sales tax.
If you are an exempt organization devoted exclusively to public or charitable purposes (aka “nonprofits”), you are exempt from the sales tax and the retail license requirements. You may be required to complete and submit an Application for Sales Tax Exemption (Form
ST-387). Nonprofit organizations coming within the exemption are: