Business License Terms & FAQ

Commonly Used Terms

Business: a trade, calling occupation, profession, or activity engaged in with the object of gain, benefit or advantage, either directly or indirectly.

Classification: that division of businesses by major groups subject to the same license rate as determined by a calculated index of ability to pay based on national averages, benefits, equalizations of tax burden, relationships of services, or other basis deemed appropriate by Dorchester County.

Gross Income: the total revenue of a business, received or accrued, for one calendar year collected or to be collected from business done within the unincorporated area of the County, except from income from business done wholly outside of the unincorporated area of the County on which a license tax is paid to some municipality or a county and fully reported to the County.

Unincorporated Area: area located outside of any city limits in Dorchester County.

Deductible Income: Income generated in any municipality or county where a license fee is required.

License Inspector: The person designated by the County Administrator to administer this ordinance.

Contractor: Means a person, licensee, subcontractor or business entity that enters into an agreement to perform any service or work or to provide a certain product in exchange for valuable consideration. This definition shall include but not be limited to a subcontractor, contract employee, or a recruiting or staffing entity.

Basic Pilot Program: Means an electronic verification of work authorization program provided under the auspices of the illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996, P.L. 104-208, Division C, Section 403 (a); United States Code Title 8, subsection 1324a, and operated by the United Stated Department of Homeland Security (or a successor program established by the federal government).

NAICS: North American Industry Classification System

County: Means the County of Dorchester, South Carolina

Employment Eligibility Verification: Means the verification by an authorized representative of the County of Dorchester that a person providing work or services on behalf of a business entity licensed by the County is lawfully present in the United States in an immigration status for which such work has been authorized. Verification is made by the submission of such persona l data of such a person as may be required by the appropriate federal government agency, which has been duly collected by the business and provided to the County pursuant to an enforcement action under this Section 23.


Frequently Asked Questions

When should I submit a Home Business Application?

This application should to be completed if you are running a business based business. Certain Planning & Zoning requirements must be met, prior to the issuance of a Home Based business license.

This form must be submitted with the business license application and associated fees.

Who needs a Business License?

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.

What is a License year?

The business license year begins September 1st and expires August 31st for all businesses. A monthly 5% penalty will be added to all licenses renewed after September 30th.

I have two locations. Do I need a separate business license for each location?

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.

Would I need to obtain a business license before I open my business?

Yes. A business is required to have a business license prior to operating 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 calendar 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.

Is there a registration form that needs to be filled out in order to obtain a business license?

Yes. The owner, agent or legal representative of every business subject to this ordinance 
must complete an application. Required information includes your Social Security Number and/or Federal Identification Number, 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.

Do I need to display my business license once I receive it?

Yes. All businesses 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.

How long do I have to notify the County if my business address changes?

A change of address must be reported in writing to the County within ten (10) business days. The current business license will be valid at the new address 1) upon written notification to the County and 2) if the new location is in compliance with zoning and building codes.

Note: 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.

Will the County mail a notification when my license fees are due?

The County may, but is not required to, send a written notice that license fees are due. If notices are not sent either electronically to the e-mail on file or mailed to the mailing address on file, 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 30th, a 5% per month penalty is applied.

Is there a chance my business license application may be denied?

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.

What forms of payment are accepted? 

Cash, credit card, or checks payable to Dorchester County are accepted.

What is the Lawful Employment Ordinance?

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.