Envelopes, Documents & Parties

Three important terms to understand while working with Magistrate are envelopes, documents, and parties.

The basic relationship: An envelope is a set of documents that parties are requested to sign. More precisely, an envelope can have 1 or more documents and 1 or more parties.


Envelopes are the core object you will work with. An envelope is what is sent for signature via email. It represents the request for signature against a document or documents. It is the main object a developer interacts with in the API.

Every envelope has a status, which is one of "Draft", "Sent", "Partially Executed", "Fully Executed", or "Canceled":

  • A draft envelope has been created on the platform, but has not been sent to anyone for signature.
  • A sent envelope has been sent for signature but not signed by anyone.
  • A partially executed envelope has been signed by one but not all parties.
  • A fully executed envelope has been signed by all parties.
  • A canceled envelope is an envelope that was canceled by its creator after sending it but before it was fully executed.

Once the envelope has been fully executed, an email is sent to all parties and the envelope creator informing them that the envelope has been signed by everyone. A plain text and PDF copy of the envelope will be included in the email and available to download on the application.


Many envelopes will only have 1 document. But some more complex situations will call for an envelope to have more than 1 document. An example of an envelope with more than 1 document would be a SAFE, which can have a pro rata side letter attached to it. The first document is the SAFE itself, and the second document is the pro rata side letter.

When there is more than 1 document in an envelope, they are both accessible through the web interface:

Animated GIF of toggling between documents


Generally, a simple contract between two parties will be represented in Magistrate by an envelope that has 1 document and 2 parties. Parties can be entities like corporations or they can be human beings. When an envelope is sent for signature, each party gets an email asking them to sign the documents in the envelope.

A party that is an entity like a corporation must have an "authorized human" to sign for the party. That human usually has a title. This is what a two parties in an envelope look like when creating an envelope on the web, where one party is an entity and one party is a human:

Photo of how parties appear when creating an envelope on the Magistrate website.

The signature blocks for these two types of parties are different. Read more on How Signatures Work.