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Contracts vs sub-agreements

The main differences between a contract and sub-agreement with examples.

Sam Gioia avatar
Written by Sam Gioia
Updated over a week ago

Updated Aug 21, 2023

Contracts and sub-agreements are special Dubsado forms that can be signed electronically. Use them anytime you'd like to make a legally-binding agreement with your client.

Please see the table below for a summary of the main differences:



One contract per project

Unlimited sub-agreements per project

Used as the primary agreement

Used for any additional documents that need a signature

Located in the project’s sidebar

Located in the project’s Forms tab

Cannot be included in a proposal


Each project can have only one contract. The contract will be your primary agreement with the client and will likely outline all the terms of working together. It is added to the project sidebar.

arrow pointing to dropdown to add a contract

After you add a contract to a project, a dropdown arrow will appear. Click on the dropdown arrow to send the contract to the client, edit the contract, open it, or remove the contract from the project.

arrow pointing to dropdown arrow

Contracts can be attached to proposals to create a streamlined booking experience for new clients. For information on how to add a contract and invoice to a proposal, click here.


A sub-agreement can have an electronic signature (just like a contract), but you can have unlimited sub-agreements on a project.

Sub agreements behave like other forms — they are added to projects and sent to clients from the Forms tab of the project.

screenshot with arrow pointing to sub agreement in the forms tab

When to use a sub-agreement

We recommend adding a sub-agreement anytime you change or add to a contract but you don’t want to delete the contract. For example, if your client wants to add additional work, create a sub-agreement for that extra work. You can also use a sub-agreement to describe a contract that needs to be terminated early.

We also recommend using a sub-agreement if you have multiple clients in one project, but you want each person to sign their own agreement. In this situation, your primary contact can sign the contract, and the other clients can sign a sub-agreement. For more information on sending multiple contracts using sub-agreements, click here.

Other types of forms that are useful as a sub-agreement include:

  • Design proofs

  • Non-disclosure agreements

  • Photo releases

  • Waivers

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