Fast, secure payments for projects outside Upwork

Even if you didn’t find your project through us, you can still use Upwork to manage contracts and get paid.

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How it works

1
Create a contract
Then send it to your client.
2
Your client accepts it
They give us your payment for safekeeping.
3
You get paid quickly
Your money goes to your Upwork balance immediately for fixed-price contracts and within five days for hourly work.

Introducing Direct Contracts

Our secure platform keeps your payment safe and sound —clients don't need to set up an account

Why Direct Contracts?

Payment protection

Your client gives us your payment for safekeeping so you know it’s waiting for you once the job is done.

One small fee

You’ll pay 3.4% for each contract.

Get paid as soon as the work’s done

You get paid immediately with fixed-price projects and within five days for hourly work.

Easy for your client

Clients can pay by credit card or Paypal (plus ACH bank transfers in the U.S) and they don’t even need an Upwork account.

Help with disputes

We’ll step in to help if your project hits a snag.

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Frequently asked questions

How do Direct Contracts work?

With Direct Contracts, you can create and send contract proposals to your clients that don’t have Upwork accounts. Just like your other contracts on Upwork, your client deposits project funds in escrow before the contract starts. When you’ve completed the work, you’ll request payment from your client. Once they’ve accepted your request, the funds are released to you.

As a freelancer, you’ll pay a processing fee of 3.4% of the total contract amount but you won’t pay any freelancer service fees to Upwork. Your client won't have to create an Upwork account, keeping the experience easy to use for them.

Please note that all transactions are in USD.

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How are Direct Contracts different from other Upwork contracts?

  • You can use Direct Contracts only with clients who do not have an Upwork account.

  • No freelancer service fees are deducted, just a 3.4% processing fee on the contract amount.

  • You create the contract terms and send proposals to your client.

  • Once your work is approved on a fixed-price contract the funds are released to your Upwork account immediately. Hourly contract earnings are released to your Upwork account within five days.

  • Your client won't need to create an account.

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What’s the cost for me as a freelancer?

Freelancers are charged a 3.4% payment processing fee. For example, if your earnings are $100 you’ll be charged a payment processing fee of $3.40 USD. You are not charged a freelancer service fee, only the 3.4% processing fee. Please note that all transactions are in USD.

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How does this affect my Upwork activity metrics?

Since your client and you will only be using Upwork for payments, any Direct Contracts will not impact your Upwork reputation metrics (for example your Job Success Score or Top Rated status). These contracts also will not be included in your other Upwork profile stats, such as total earnings, number of jobs, etc.

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Can I have hourly and fixed-price contracts with Direct Contracts?

Yes! You can now have both hourly and fixed-price contracts with the Direct Contracts option.

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Where do I go to initiate a Direct Contracts contract?

Look for the paper airplane icon in your navigation bar.

Direct Contracts Graphic

How do I file a dispute?

Direct Contracts are supported by escrow services and dispute assistance.If a client has canceled a contract without payment or has failed to release a milestone payment despite the delivery of work, initiate a dispute directly from the contract list page. Click "..." then "Get Help" and "Contact Us."

Freelancers can also take these steps to file a dispute.

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How do I make changes to the contract?

Direct Contracts can be edited by you until your client accepts the contract and funds the project. If a change in terms or scope is needed after that, please reach out to your client to discuss. You can then cancel the existing contract and create a new one.

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How do I file a dispute?

Go to My Jobs > Direct Contact to find the contract. Click on the (...) and you’ll see an option to “Cancel Contract” and include a personalized note.

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How do I request payment from my Direct Contract client?

Go to My Jobs > Direct Contracts to find the contract. Click on the (...) and you’ll see an option to “Request Payment” and include a personalized note. You must request payment for the full amount, not a partial amount.

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Does this get included in my U.S. tax information that Upwork provides me at the end of the year?

In most cases U.S. freelancers—including those who earned more than $600—will not receive a Form 1099-MISC from Upwork or their clients. However, there are three important exceptions:

If you are a U.S. freelancer who receives over $20,000 and have more than 200 transactions you’ll receive a 1099-KYou live in a U.S. state that requires a 1099-K if you reach a certain earning threshold. In these cases, we will send you the 1099-K, if required.In addition, your client may decide to issue you a tax form if they believe they are required to do so. We recommend that all freelancers use their Earnings by Client report to accurately document your earnings. Learn more here.

  • If you’re an U.S. freelancer enrolled in Upwork Payroll you’ll receive a W-2.

  • If you are a U.S. freelancer who receives over $20,000 and have more than 200 transactions you’ll receive a 1099-K.

  • You live in a U.S. state that requires a 1099-K if you reach a certain earning threshold. In these cases, we will send you the 1099-K, if required.

In addition, your client may decide to issue you a tax form if they believe they are required to do so. We recommend that all freelancers use their Earnings by Client report to accurately document your earnings. Learn more here.

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What requirements/restrictions are there with Direct Contracts?

On the freelancer/agency side:

  • If terms of the contract need to be changed you must cancel and create a new contract with updated terms.

On the freelancer/agency side:

  • Billing method must be PayPal, ACH bank transfers, or credit card.

  • If terms of the contract need to be changed, the freelancer must cancel and create a new contract with updated terms.

  • Clients cannot initiate a contract -- the freelancer must.

There is no ability/need for a client to create an Upwork account with Direct Contracts. Clients can access the contract via email from Upwork. If a client decides to create an Upwork client account, new contracts with that freelancer will be subject to freelancer service fees and client payment processing fees.

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Can I send the contract details page URL on my browser directly to my client?

Please avoid sending your client the contract details page URL. Your client does not have an Upwork account, so they need a specially generated link to be able to access the contract information. We will send them the link to your contract via email, so let them know to be on the lookout for an email from Upwork.com.

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Can I set up a Direct Contract with anyone, anywhere in the world?

Currently, Direct Contracts are only available to freelancers and their clients in certain countries. If you attempt to sign up and you or your client are not eligible due to the country you live in, you’ll see this message: “We’re sorry to inform you that Direct Contracts are currently not available in your country.” We hope to expand Direct Contracts to more countries in the future.

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If needed, am I able to issue my CL a refund? If yes, is it possible to issue a partial refund vs. a full refund?

Yes, you can issue a full or partial refund.

Will the client submit feedback for this contract?

Sharing feedback is not an option with Direct Contracts.

How do I switch my current contracts to this option?

Existing contracts on Upwork cannot be changed to a Direct Contracts contract.

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