The Business License office is responsible for processing Business License applications, renewals, and appeals within the unincorporated areas of Dorchester County. These business licenses are regulated by the applicable state codes and county ordinances. County Ordinance 91-08 is the Business License Ordinance.
Monday – Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm
Phone: 843-832-0018 or 843-563-0018
Fax: 843-832-0037 or 843-563-0037
Dorchester County Planning & Zoning
500 N. Main St., Box 3
Summerville, SC 29483
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the Home Business Application?
A: This application needs to be completed if you are running a business from your home. Certain requirements pertaining to Planning and Zoning must be met in order for us to issue a business license. Please review this form carefully. This needs to submitted along
with the business license application and fee.
Q: What businesses are required to have a Dorchester County Business License?
A: A Dorchester County Business License is required of every person engaged or intending to engage in any calling, business occupation or profession within the unincorporated areas (outside the city limits) of Dorchester County and is required to pay the annual license fee. If your business is subject to a Dorchester County Business License, please contact our office for more information.
Q: Do I need a Business License?
A: Every person engaged or intending to engage in any calling business, occupation or profession, in whole or in part, within the unincorporated areas of Dorchester County is required to pay an annual license fee and obtain a business license.
Q: When is the Business License Due?
A: Due date for renewal business license is August 31. However there is a two (2) week
grace period given of September 13. A monthly 5% penalty compounded will be added after September 13.
Q: What is a license year?
A: The business license year is from September 1 of the current year until August 31 of the ensuing year. This time period shall be considered a license year.
Q: I have two locations. Do I need a separate business license for each location?
A: Yes. A separate license shall be required for each place of business and for each
classification of business conducted at one place. If gross income cannot be separated for
different classifications at one location, the license fee shall be computed on the combined
gross income for the classification requiring the highest rate. A license fee based on gross
income shall be computed on the gross income for the proceeding calendar or fiscal year,
and on a twelve-month projected income based on the monthly average for a business in
operation for less than one year.
Q: Would I need to obtain a business license before I open my business?
A: Yes. A business shall be required to have a business license prior to operation in
Dorchester County. The fee for a new business shall be computed on the estimated
probable gross income stated in the license application for the balance of the license year.
No refund for a license fee will be granted due to the annexation of a business into a municipality during the license year. Failure to obtain a business license could result in a fine.
Q: Is there a registration form that needs to be filled out in order to obtain a business license?
A: Yes. The owner, agent or legal representative of every business subject to this ordinance
must complete an application form provided by Dorchester County. Required information
includes your Social Security Number and/or Federal Identification Number, your South
Carolina Retail License Number (if applicable), the business name as reported on the South Carolina income tax return, and all information about the applicant and the business deemed necessary by the County.
Q: Do I need to display my business license once I receive it?
A: Yes. All persons shall display the license issued to them on the original form provided by the County in a conspicuous place in the business establishment at the address shown on the license. A transient or non-resident shall carry the license upon his person, or in a vehicle used by the business, readily available for inspection by an authorized agent of the County.
Q: How long do I have to notify the County if my business address changes?
A: A change of address must be reported in writing to the County within ten (10) days after
removal of the business to a new location. The license will be valid at the new address
upon written notification to the County and compliance with zoning and building codes.
Failure to obtain approval of the County for change of address shall invalidate the license
and subject the licensee to prosecution for doing business without a license.
Q: Will the County mail a notification when my license fees are due?
A: The County might, but shall not be required to, mail written notices that license fees are due. If notices are not mailed, the County shall publish a notice of the due date in the newspapers of general circulation within the County. Business License renewal applications for the current year are mailed upon approval of prior year. After September 13, a 5% per month penalty is applied.
Q: Is there a chance my business license application may be denied?
A: Yes. The license inspector shall deny a license to an applicant when the application is
incomplete, contains a misrepresentation, false or misleading statement, evasion or
suppression of a material fact, or when the activity for which the license is sought is
unlawful or constitutes a public nuisance.
Q: What forms of payment are accepted?
A: Cash or checks payable to Dorchester County are accepted.
Q: What is the Lawful Employment Ordinance?
A: The Lawful Employment Ordinance 07-02 is a County Ordinance adopted in July of 2007 pertaining to the hiring of illegal immigrants. Any suspicion of the hiring of illegal immigrants should be reported to the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation by clicking here.