South Carolina regulates not only traditional businesses but also home-based businesses that operate out of residences. Depending on the jurisdiction in which you live, you must obtain a general business license or permit and register your business with the county or city in order to operate. Home businesses selling products must obtain a license from the state's Department of Revenue. Beyond these general requirements, specific regulations exist for certain home businesses.
Before starting any business, your home-based business must seek approval from the city or county zoning authority. Approval from the zoning authority may include reviews of on- and off-street parking, the landscape, and fire and safety inspections. Each South Carolina zoning authority has its own regulations concerning home businesses as it relates to the use of vehicles, advertising on your property and other matters. For example, some zoning authorities in the state only approve home-based businesses if you or your family members are the business' only employees. Some don't allow you to have frequent visitors to your home or automobiles parked outside with your business name on it.
Home-based bakery businesses must meet the same standards as other retail food services, such as obtaining a permit from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. You do not need a permit if you're only a weekend home baker or intend to prepare only nonpotentially hazardous breads and pastries for family and friends. To prepare baked goods, home bakeries must use a commercial kitchen, a separate space away from the home's residents' primary kitchen. If you intend to sell your products to permitted facilities, such as convenience stores and restaurants, you must contact South Carolina's Department of Agriculture for instructions and requirements.
Specialty Food and Catering Businesses
Specialty food and catering home businesses must both use a commerical kitchen to prepare food and obtain DHEC retail food service permits. Specialty food items include barbecue sauces, candies, jellies, jams and preserves, pickles, relish and other packaged foods. Depending on the type of food product you want to produce, you may need one or more permits from the state's Department of Agriculture. The South Carolina Meat and Poultry Inspection Department regulates specialty foods with meat and poultry ingredients. The DHEC regulates shellfish products, nondairy cheese products, soft drinks and water products. Your business must comply with the South Carolina Food and Cosmetics Act if it intends to sell food products wholesale to retail establishments.
Child Care Businesses
A home-based child care business must be approved, licensed and registered by the South Carolina Department of Social Services. You may provide care for up to only six children at any given time. Your business must have a listed, working telephone number. A few different types of inspections may be required, including a fire, safety and child care licensing inspection. Fingerprint records must be on file for all household members age 15 and older, as well as for any substitute caregivers. All household members, spouses and providers the home child care business uses must receive at least two hours of annual training in a subject area related to child care, nutrition or child development.