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Every person engaged or intending to engage in any calling, business, occupation or profession in whole or in part, within the limits of the Town of Bluffton, South Carolina, is required to pay an annual license tax for the privilege of doing business and obtain a business license.
Business licenses are renewed annually. All licenses expire December 31st of the calendar year. Renewal notices are mailed out in January, and the due date is no later than April 15th. All payments that are received April 16th or thereafter are considered late and a 5% per month penalty will be charged.
We accept credit cards, checks and cash.
If you are located in the Town of Bluffton but work from your home, you will need to complete the New Business License Application (PDF), and you would also need to complete a Home Occupation Application (PDF).
Go to Bluffton Explorer to view an online map.
A business license application can be obtained from the Business License Office located at:Theodore D. Washington Municipal Building20 Bridge StreetBluffton, SC 29910
You can also view the business license application (PDF) online.
Upon completion of the business license application, it can be mailed to:P.O. Box 386Bluffton, SC 29910
It can also be emailed to the Town of Bluffton, faxed to 843-706-4503, or you can stop by Town Hall and drop off your application at the Business License Department at:20 Bridge StreetBluffton, SC 29910
Sole proprietors who aren’t employers do not have to apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). However, all other business types must apply for this registration whether they have employees or not. For more information about who needs an EIN or how to apply, visit the Internal Revenue Service website.
A retail license is required of every person in the business of selling tangible personal property at retail in South Carolina. A license must be obtained for each location of a business selling tangible personal property at retail. (Since the sales tax law applies to certain services, a retail license is required for each location selling at retail any service specifically subject to the sales tax.)
To make any changes to the legal entity name for your corporation, limited liability company (LLC), or limited liability partnership (LLP), you must contact the Secretary of State via the Secretary of State website, or by telephone at 803-734-2170.
You can pick up a Mobile Vendor Packet at:20 Bridge StreetBluffton, SC 29910
You must notify us within 10 days of your new address, phone number, or any other changes to your business. After compliance with any applicable town requirements, your business license may be transferred to the new location.
Please notify the Town of Bluffton in writing so that we can close your license.
Email the Town of Bluffton
Business licenses are not transferable from one owner to another. The new owner must apply for a business license in their name.
Yes, we can also provide information about corporations or individuals conducting business under a trade name, or verify the existence of a business. You can call the Business License Office at 843-706-4501 or you can view the Current Business Licenses (PDF).
Don Ryan, co-founded CareCore National (now eviCore healthcare) in 1994, and under his leadership, it became one of the leading specialty benefits management companies. After bringing the company to Bluffton, Ryan became involved in the efforts to recruit similar companies to the area. Don donated the existing space to the Center which is now named in his honor.
Take bagged yard debris to one of the Beaufort County Convenience Centers.
The town does have a drainage maintenance program to ensure that certain storm drainage infrastructure is functioning properly.
You may call the town at 843-706-4500 or email Growth Management to inquire about the maintenance of storm drainage infrastructure.
View the Community Facilities (PDF) for information on park locations.
Facilities can be rented for special events.
Park hours are dawn to dusk unless an events permit has been issued.
Contact the Town via SeeClickFix.
The Town provides a single-stream recycling collection, meaning all recyclables are placed in the recycle bin with no sorting.
The recycle logo and number is usually located on the bottom of the container. All recyclables need to be inside the 96-gallon cart; anything else will not be taken.
Refer to the Pickup Schedules (PDF) for trash and recycling as they may not be on the same day. The following holidays are observed by Waste Management and will cause the pickup schedule to move back by one day for the balance of the week that the holiday falls in. Those holidays are:
For all household trash and recycling service-related needs and general questions, please contact Waste Management's state of the art Customer Service Center. Contacting Waste Management directly will ensure that your issues and questions are handled with speed and accuracy. You can contact them via phone by calling 888-964-9730, email or online. They are open Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 5 pm.
The town does not pick up large or bulky items. Large or bulk Items that cannot fit in the town provided containers may be dropped off at one of several Beaufort County Convenience Centers free of charge.
Trash and recyclables can be dropped off at any one of several Beaufort County Convenience Centers.
View the Beaufort County, South Carolina website for information on special collection events.
Read the Stormwater Ordinance (PDF) to learn more. Article 5.10 provides information regarding the stormwater design requirements for development, operation and maintenance of best management practices (BMPs), illicit discharges and connections, and the right to inspect any and all stormwater systems within the jurisdiction of the town.
Visit the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) website for more information on this type of permit.
Contact the town via SeeClickFix.
Learn more about the State’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan.
Though the details between the two ordinances may vary, the basic requirement and the intent remain the same. The spirit of both ordinances is to use a face covering while in any building open to the public and for employees to wear a face covering while in any area which the public is allowed. Simply put, if you are around other people except for immediate family, please use a face covering.
As with any issue which involves jurisdictional boundaries, it presents an opportunity to educate citizens and businesses if they are or are not in the Town limits. The Town has several informational tools to help with this, which include:
Am I in Bluffton? App
Bluffton Explorer Map
(Type in address, click on address on map, a window will pop-up. If the window includes the Town of Bluffton seal, the address is in the Town limits, if it only has the Beaufort County seal, the address is in the unincorporated parts of Beaufort County).
According to the ordinance, “any building open to the public” is subject to this rule. Since most gyms are open to customers as potential members, they are effectively open to the public. To this end, a face covering would be required when entering the gym. It is also advised that gym staff wear a face covering. The issue of exercising is not specifically addressed in the ordinance. However, it is a reasonable expectation that one would follow social distancing guidelines when working out and, given that, reason follows that a face covering may not be worn while actively exercising.
Under the ordinance, you are not required to wear a face covering while outdoors unless you are an employee of an establishment that is interacting with people in outdoor spaces. It is recommended to wear a face covering in this situation, however, given the likelihood of coming into contact with other customers and that you are touching a gas pump that is handled by hundreds of customers per day.
The ordinance states, “the following people are exempt from the ordinance…any person who has an underlying medical condition or is under 8 years old…or who is unable to remove a face covering without assistance of others.” The ordinance does not place the burden of proof on any person claiming an underlying medical condition. A doctor’s note is not required.
The ordinance was not written with the intent to impede the ability of one to musically perform. The answer to this question is similar in nature to the answer for the question regarding wearing of a face covering at the gym. If you are in a building “open to the public,” you have to wear a face covering. However, there is no expectation for the ordinance requirement to diminish the ability of a musician to perform so long as proper social distancing is maintained. While not performing, face coverings are to be worn with the exception of actively eating and drinking.
If you are an owner or employee of a vendor, this ordinance is clear that you “wear a face covering in any area where the general public is allowed.” If you are a customer, it is recommended you also wear a face covering due to being in a public venue despite the fact it is not a “building open to the public.”
According to the ordinance, a face covering is required in “any building open to the public.” Walking your dog is most likely, not in a building open to the public.
No. Violation of the ordinance is not a criminal offense. It is a civil infraction and carries a fine of up to $50. Enforcement by way of a citation is a very last resort. According to the ordinance, voluntary compliance is preferred over writing a citation.
Under the ordinance, if a worker or customer refuses to wear a face covering for other than medical reasons, a business may decline entry or service to that individual. The proper recourse would be to remind the customer of the face cover requirement. If they fail to comply, the business owner has every right to ask the person to leave the property. If the customer refuses to leave after being requested to do so, it would then be appropriate to summon law enforcement for assistance.
The ordinance does not apply to outdoor recreational activity.
The Town of Bluffton provides assistance for Town residents that are in need of maintenance, repair, or replacement of their septic system. If you need support please fill out the Town’s Neighborhood Assistance Program Application Septic Assistance (PDF).
A Tree removal permit is required regardless of the health or condition of the tree(s) to remove any tree, 8 inches in diameter at breast height (“DBH”) or greater, or any of the following trees with a DBH of 4 inches or greater
Exemptions to a tree removal permit include:
In South Carolina, only the governor can issue a mandatory evacuation order. Your local county and municipal officials are following the Governor’s directive and may enact local measures to support and augment an evacuation order as needed for public safety.
Beaufort County Emergency Management, under the direction of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, is the lead agency for all of Beaufort County. Its representatives decide re-entry routes and times. The Town of Bluffton follows the directives of Beaufort County Emergency Management during a hurricane or critical incident. The Town of Bluffton activates its own Emergency Operations Center, within the Bluffton Police Department, and its representatives are available to assist you with information during a storm event.
There are NO shelters available in Beaufort County during a hurricane. Beaufort County, also known as the Lowcountry, is comprised of low-lying land surrounded by marshes, rivers and other bodies of water. There are no shelters in Beaufort County due to its flat land and being flood prone. The Red Cross has opened some shelters in Jasper County during storm events. Please call the local Red Cross for further information. Shelter information, when available, will be included in the town’s updates to social media.
If you need transportation to a shelter prior to a storm, please call the Palmetto Breeze, the Lowcountry’s public transportation system at 843.757.5782. Please plan ahead; its buses cease operation once the storm and/or high winds begin.
The Town of Bluffton has jurisdiction over pollutants in Town neighborhoods, not flooding. Flooding is an issue which your Property Owners Association (POA) must address for many times, this is a result of the neighborhood’s infrastructure. However, there are tasks which residents and POAs can do to reduce the possibility of flooding. For one, please educate your neighbors to NEVER blow or put lawn debris and/or garbage of any kind in the storm drains. Pipes, ditches and storm drains are a part of the stormwater infrastructure and each one needs to be inspected and possibly cleaned out before Hurricane season. Any obstruction can cause a domino effect of flooding and that could result in damage to your house, your street or your property. Every resident is encouraged to help in this effort and ensure any ditch, pipe or drain near his or her property is clear of any obstruction.
Town employees inspect and clean out stormwater ditches which reside on Town or public property. However, numerous stormwater ditches are located on private property or in the jurisdiction of state or county roads. To ensure stormwater is able to flow unimpeded through the town’s infrastructure, all stormwater ditches need to be maintained and regularly cleaned, especially prior to a storm. This ensures a continuous flow of water and prevents clogged areas from flooding.
If you see a clogged drain, pipe or storm drain in your neighborhood, please notify your POA.
Hurricanes are fickle creatures of Mother Nature and one movement of the storm can change its trajectory. Many factors, such as land mass, ocean temperatures, tides and other weather variables also affect the impact or direction of these storms. Hurricanes are also capable of covering large amounts of space, therefore one movement in any direction can affect or not affect hundreds of miles of land, property and people. While predictions are always improving with technology, please remember, “You can put a person on the moon, however, you can’t predict a hurricane with precision.”
During a hurricane, the town’s emergency manager and town employees update the town’s social media accounts frequently to ensure our residents are receiving the most recent, accurate information. Social media is a wonderful tool, however, especially during a hurricane, it is important to ensure information received is from a credible source. Please be mindful to check if the information you are sharing and/or believing is attributed to a reliable source such as state, county or local government agency.
Hurricane Florence in 2018 presented an unusual situation in which South Carolina was evacuated but Georgia was not. Many South Carolina residents, who work in Georgia, voiced they felt conflicted between their work obligations and their personal safety. While this situation is rare, it is best to know your plan and parameters with your employer prior to a storm.
It is always a good idea to know what is happening regionally since there could be a domino effect on roads and other factors however this situation can also lead to mixed messages. Hurricane Florence in 2018 caused confusion about information sources. Due to the fact the Lowcountry region is within the Savannah media market, many people said they were confused since Beaufort County was being evacuated, but the Savannah, Georgia region was not. In this case, it is best to tune into your local and county government venues versus television stations. The Savannah area audience is the television station’s primary audience. The Lowcountry audience is secondary. Therefore, local government agencies will have more complete and specific information for your situation.
Yes, of course, you can evacuate before an official evacuation order. New residents, from other regions of the country, have asked this question. As a former emergency manager said, “When you see a storm brewing, it’s a perfect time to plan a trip to visit friends or family.” If you leave before an official evacuation order, you can travel freely via any route. Once an evacuation order is issued, you may have to take a prescribed route out of town and endure traffic congestion. If your schedule permits, leaving as soon as you are able can prevent congestion and personal frustration.
Mandatory evacuation orders are issued to save the lives of residents as well as first responders. If you choose to ignore the mandatory evacuation order, be prepared to be self-sufficient for the first 72 hours after a story. Hurricanes and tropical storms are unpredictable so realize your utilities could be damaged or unavailable including your electricity, water and phone service. Most importantly, if you call for emergency services, such as an ambulance, fire fighter or police officer, know they are not obligated to respond, especially if it places public safety personnel at risk for injury or loss of their lives. If you stay, be prepared to “be on your own,” until the threat of the storm has passed.
Bluffton Municipal Court is located in the Old Town of Bluffton at the following location:20 Bridge StreetBluffton, SC 29910
All payments for Bluffton Municipal Court should be mailed to the following location:Post Office Box 386Bluffton, SC 29910
We accept the following forms of payment:
Payments can be received by mail, online, or in person. View the following types of payment we are able to receive. Payments are receipted on the day payment is received. If you mail your payment make sure you allow between 5 to 7 working days for it to be received. We are open to receive payments Monday through Thursday (8 am to 5 pm) and Friday (8 am to 12:30 pm).
Please note no personal checks will be accepted if you are paying after the court date.
Changes to your address have to be received in writing by emailing the Municipal Court, in person, or faxed to 843-706-4503. Please make sure that you call to verify the information has been received.
A request to reschedule your case has to be received prior to your court hearing by emailing the Court or in person. You will receive the new date and time to return to court once the request has been accepted. Please note if you have already had your case rescheduled once you will need to appear in court to request it, no written request will be accepted.
Only a South Carolina resident may request a payment plan. You will need to appear on your court date to request a payment plan. No payment plan will be granted before or after your court date. Please be prepared to put down 20% of the fine amount due. If you are unsure the fine amount due please contact our office for payment amount due 843-706-4530.
A request for a Jury Trial has to be received prior to your court hearing by emailing the Court or in person. You will be notified of the next jury roster and selection by the jury coordinator.
A request for a certified copy of a disposition can be made by submitting a letter in writing in person, mailed, or emailed. Please include defendant name, violation, date of birth, and a contact number. For further information regarding a case please visit the Beaufort County Public Index.
A payment can be received by mail or in person. Bluffton Municipal Court accepts credit cards, cashier checks, cash, money orders, or local personal checks. Payments are receipted on the day payment is received. If you mail your payment, make sure you allow between 5 to 7 working days for it to be received. We are open to receive payments Monday through Thursday 8 am - 5 pm and Friday 8 am - 12:30 pm. No personal checks will be accepted if payment is made after the court date.
Request for continuances must be in writing and received by the Town of Bluffton Municipal Court at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled court date. Requests should include a copy of your speeding ticket or ticket number, name, current mailing address, and the reason for the continuance.
You may hand deliver, fax, mail or email your requests to the Town of Bluffton Municipal Court at:20 Bridge StreetBluffton, SC 29910Fax: 843-706-4503Email the CourtMailing Address:Town of Bluffton Municipal CourtP.O. Box 386Bluffton, SC 29910
In order to request a Courtesy Summons, you must first file a police report at the Bluffton Police Department located at 101 Progressive Street, Bluffton, SC 29910. You will be provided with a case number that you will need to bring with you when you schedule an appointment to have your warrant sworn out with the Municipal Court Judge.
Only a South Carolina resident may request a payment plan. All requests for payment plans must originate with the defendant on the scheduled court date. A default in payment will result in a Bench Warrant.
Request for a jury trial must be received in writing prior to your scheduled court date. A jury trial request form must be completed by the defendant and/or representing attorney. The defendant will be notified via U.S. Postal Service when the case has been scheduled.
A request for a certified copy of a disposition can be made by submitting a letter to Bluffton Municipal Court. The defendant will need to include:
For further information regarding a case, please visit the Beaufort County Public Index and select Summary Court.
A Notice of Appeal must be delivered to the Beaufort County Clerk of Court's office located in Beaufort within 10 days of the disposition. According to Section 14-25-95, Appeals to Court of Common Pleas; procedures and time limits. Any party shall have the right to appeal from the sentence or judgment of the Municipal Court to the Court of Common Pleas of the county in which the trial is held. Notice of the intention to appeal, setting forth the grounds for appeal, must be given in writing and served on the municipal judge of the clerk of the municipal court within ten days after sentence is passed or judgment rendered, or the appeal is considered waived. The party appealing shall enter into a bond, payable to the municipality, to appear and defend the appeal at the next term of the Court of Common Pleas or shall pay the fine assessed.
Proof of insurance can be provided any time prior to your court date. Please bring your insurance card that states the effective and expiration dates. Please note, the effective date must coincide with the violation date, otherwise proof will be unacceptable for dismissal from the Court.
If payments are received after the court date and the appropriate fine amount is not enclosed, the payment will be returned to the defendant using the address indicated on the mailed envelope with a letter enclosed as to why your payment was returned.
A receipt will be sent to the defendant once payment has been posted to the defendant's case. It is the defendants responsibility to make sure that the court has the correct address on file.
If your fine is paid prior to your court date you do not need to come to court, however, it is still your right to come before the judge if you would like.
The Ordinance went into effect on November 1, 2018.
Most retail establishments are subject to the new Ordinance, including:
There is no exemption for small retailers.
The County Ordinance and the Municipal Ordinances are uniform in their restrictions and exemptions regarding single-use plastic bags.
Plastic bags considered disposable and not reusable are prohibited. This includes all disposable plastic bags provided at checkout or point-of-sale.
The following types of plastic bags are allowed for the following uses:
Yes. Plastic bags that are used inside stores for bulk foods and other items, for meats and produce, unwrapped bakery goods, flowers, and other similar items are allowed. Only disposable plastic bags used at retail checkout are prohibited.
Clothing stores must follow the same requirements as other retailers.
Business establishments are encouraged to provide customers with reusable carryout bags or recyclable paper bags.
A reusable carryout bag is a carryout bag that is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple uses and meets the following criteria:
Information is posted on the Town’s website. The Town of Bluffton will continue to inform through social media, news media, and other means to reach retailers and customers.
Business processes should be adjusted accordingly to accommodate prohibitions and exemptions for the distribution of single-use plastic bags, as specified in the Ordinance and summarized in this FAQ.
The Ordinance is enforceable as of November 1, 2018. Business establishments are encouraged to allow current stock of single-use plastic bags to diminish prior to November 1, 2018. Retailers who are part of a national or regional retail company are encouraged to begin modifying their logistics processes as soon as possible in order to be compliant by November 1, 2018.
This new law is the result of eco-friendly legislation aimed at improving our environment by curbing the distribution of single-use plastic bags and making a shift to reusable bags. Plastic bags can escape into our waterways and the ocean, where they are harmful to animals. They break down into smaller pieces of plastic that enter the food chain of animals and eventually that of humans.
Please email Debbie Szpanka, the Town’s Public Information Officer or call her office at 843-706-4534 if you have further questions.
The minimum age to operate a boat is 16 years old. Boat operators under the age of 16 must complete a boating course approved by the SCDNR to operate a boat or personal watercraft with a 15 h.p. motor or greater unless accompanied by an adult age 18 years or older.
South Carolina law requires all children under 12 years of age to wear a USCG–approved Type I, II, III, or V PFD while on board a vessel less than 16 feet long. The PFD must be fastened and of the proper size for the child.
South Carolina law requires all children under 12 years of age to wear a USCG–approved Type I, II, III, or V PFD while on board a vessel less than 16 feet long. The PFD must be fastened and of the proper size for the child. Anyone over the age of 12 must have the PFD readily available if it is not being worn.
The minimum recommended distance is 50 feet.
This mandates that boaters travel at idle speed so as to not cause a wake.
No overnight docking is permitted at Bluffton public docks.
Yes, but boaters have priority on the dock.
There is a 3-hour maximum time limit at Bluffton public docks.
Boats must be registered with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). More information can be obtained HERE.
In compliance with the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act and upon proper request, the Bluffton Police Department will, within ten business days (except Saturday, Sundays and legal public holidays), notify the request has been received. Once that notification is made, the Bluffton Police Department will return the requested documents within 30 calendar days.
Records commonly considered to be public record include:
After final disposition in the court, a court order must be obtained in some cases advising what items can be returned. For items reported lost or stolen, you can secure the case number and log number from your copy of the incident report and contact the investigating officer or evidence custodian periodically to see if the items have been recovered. If so, arrangements can be made at that time to have the items returned to you.
Once it has been determined or believed that a crime has been committed, the chain of custody of evidence must be adhered to in order for some items to be admitted into court as part of a trial. Any item can become evidence, for example: a car, a house, a yard, a piece of clothing, a knife, a gun, your body, visible injuries, etc. The best advise is "DO NOT TOUCH, MOVE, OR WASH ANYTHING." If you are in doubt, wait for law enforcement instructions on what to do.
The Bluffton Police Department offers a safe way for residents to discard old or unused prescription drugs. A drug drop box is located in the department’s lobby and allows the public to dispose of medications during business hours. The drug drop box was purchased and donated to the Bluffton Police Department by the Lowcountry Alliance for Healthy Youth; a local non-profit organization.
The Bluffton Police Department is located at 101 Progressive Street in Bluffton. It’s open Monday-Thursday 8 am - 5:30 pm, Friday 8 am - 1 pm.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), generally provides that any person has the right to request access to agency records or information except to the extent the records are protected from disclosure by any of nine exemptions contained in the law or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions.
To submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request of the Town of Bluffton, please click HERE.