Frequently Asked Questions
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 assistance of counsel before making decisions that may have legal implications.
1) 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.
2) What is a secured party?
A secured party means a lender, seller or other person in whose favor there is a security interest.
3) Where should I file?
The Uniform Commercial Code designates where to file based on the location of the debtor. Within the state of organization or residence, mortgages, fixtures, minerals and timber are filed with the County Clerks of Court or Register of Deeds. Tax liens are also filed in the county. All other types of collateral, including transmitting utilities and manufactured homes, are filed with the Secretary of State's Office.
4) 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, your request is processed within three business days after receipt.
5) 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 offers the online options of receiving certified search results. If you choose not to file electronically, your request is processed within two business days after receipt.
6) What rules are applied to searches?
Search results depend upon application of the following 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 a 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 will retrieve:
- John Smith
- John A. Smith
- Johnnie Smith
- John Robert Smith
A search request for Smith, John A. will retrieve:
- John A. Smith
- John Alexander Smith
- John Adam Smith
A search request for Smith, J M will retrieve:
- John M. Smith
- John Michael Smith
- Johnnie Smith
- John Matthew Smith
Please note that 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.
7) 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.
8) 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.