UCC Filings FAQ

Click Here to Read an Important Notice on Filing UCCs!
 
The Secretary of State’s Office is a ministerial filing office and cannot provide legal advice to citizens. Nothing in the following language should be construed to constitute legal advice. The Secretary of State’s Office strongly recommends that you seek the assistance of counsel before making any decisions that may have legal implications.

What is the Uniform Commercial Code or UCC?
The Uniform Commercial Code or UCC provides a central location in South Carolina for filing a public notice of a secured transaction. This central filing office is the Office of the Secretary of State.  This notice, called a financing statement, indicates a commercial agreement between a debtor and a secured party.  Searches provide information on collateral. When a debtor pledges collateral on a loan,  UCC search results tell lenders if others have filed a claim against the same collateral.

What is a debtor?
A debtor is a borrower who owes a debt. More specifically, a debtor means the person who owes payment against a secured obligation.

What is a secured party?
A secured party means a lender, seller or other person in whose favor there is a security interest.

How does the search work?
Search requests are used to find initial financing statements, amendments, debtor correction statements, and other lien notices. 
 
What rules are applied to searches?
Search results are created by applying search rules to the name presented for
searching.
• There is no limit to the number of matches that may be returned in response to the search criteria.
• No distinction is made between upper and lower case letters.
• Punctuation marks and accents are disregarded.
• All spaces are disregarded.
• Searches for individuals should be entered as Last Name First Name Middle Name or Initial (i.e., Doe John)
•  If, first name is provided, a match will be found on that name and also return results with any middle name
• If only an initial is provided, a match will be found on any first name starting with the
same letter.
• If a middle name is provided, a match will be found on the middle name.
• If only an initial is given, a match will be found on any middle name starting with the
same letter.

Examples are as follows:

A search for Bank of America will retrieve:
• Bank of America Home Loans
• Bank of America Corporate Center
• Bank of America N.A.

A search request for Smith, John A. will retrieve:
• John A. Smith
• John Alexander Smith
• John Adam Smith
 
A search request for Smith, John will retrieve:
• John Smith
• John A. Smith
• Johnnie Smith
• John Robert Smith

A search request for Smith, J M will retrieve:
• John M. Smith
• John Michael Smith
• Johnnie Smith
• John Matthew Smith

How long does a financing statement last?
If a continuation is not filed, the financing statement will lapse 5 years from the original filing date. A continuation extends the filing period 5 additional years from the initial filing date. Subsequent continuations may be filed in increments of 5 years and always expire on the anniversary date of the initial filing. A continuation may be filed up to 6 months before the expiration date of the financing statement. Under Article 9, all lapsed and terminated filings remain active for search reporting purposes until one year after the initial financing statement lapses or would have lapsed.

Where should I file? 
The Uniform Commercial Code designates where to file based on the location of the debtor. The collateral location no longer determines where to file. Filings for organizations are made in the state where the organization is registered. Filings for individuals are made in the state of residence. Filing in the wrong office is not a rejection reason listed in the statute.
Within the state of organization or residence, mortgages, fixtures, minerals and timber are filed with the County Clerks of Court or Register of Deeds. All other types of collateral, including transmitting utilities and manufactured homes, are filed in the central filing office.

How will I receive my filed copy?
When you file electronically, you receive your filed copy immediately upon filing. If you choose not to file electronically, the central filing office may process your request within two business days after receipt.

How will I receive my copies of searched documents?
If you use the online search option, your search results are immediately available for you to print. The online search option also offers the online option of receiving certified search results. If you choose not to file electronically, the central filing office may process your request within two business days after receipt.

My filing relates to real estate. Should I file with the county or in the central filing office?

Title liens on automobiles or other title property are filed with the County Clerks of Court or Register of Deeds.

What is an “in lieu of” filing?
When a continuation statement needs to be filed for financing statements formerly filed in the county or in another state, an "in lieu of" filing must be made by the secured party. It will be in the form of an initial financing statement and it will cross reference the original statement filed in the county or other state.

Where are tax liens filed?
Tax liens are filed in the county.

What if I conduct a search and do not receive the results I expect?
The same database is used by both the external, web user and the internal filing officer. The responsibility for accurately searching names rests with the user. Search results are determined by the search criteria you choose. Therefore, if you do not see the results you expect, check the spelling of the information entered and/or choose different search criteria.

What is the difference in a search response and a document request?
A search response is a report of all filings associated with your search. A document request provides you with the actual copies of the documents filed in the central filing office.

Are paper filings still accepted?
Yes, paper filings do continue to be accepted. The national forms, located on the website, must be used if paper filings are submitted. Online filing and searching provides immediate results.  Paper filings may not be processed for up to two business days after the request is received by the central filing office.
 
Can the Secretary of State’s Office provide me with legal assistance in completing UCC filings?
No. The Secretary of State’s Office cannot provide legal assistance to individual citizens.  If you need the assistance of legal counsel, you may call the Lawyer Referral Service of the South Carolina Bar at (803) 799-7100 or (800) 868-2284.