You can use our platform to work with a client who doesn’t already have an Upwork account. We call these relationships Direct Contracts, and we want you to use them in a safe and secure way.

That’s why we’ve given tips for clients and freelancers, as well as what to do if you suspect someone’s breaking the rules. You’ll find general advice on the best ways to stay safe and secure online in our Security Center.

Dos and don'ts for independent professionals

Do use Direct Contracts to:

  • Take on contracts for work in the categories we support. (We sometimes change categories so always check the list before you do anything.)
  • Manage contracts with clients you know from outside Upwork who don't already have an Upwork account
  • Take advantage of Upwork's escrow service, which holds your client's money until you've delivered the work

Don't use Direct Contracts to:

  • Carry out work outside of our categories (that's jobs involving off-the-shelf products like pre-made software or projects with largely physical tasks, like cooking or cleaning)
  • Undertake work that's on our banned list because it's illegal, fraudulent, misleading, or involves creating sexually explicit content
  • Do any work for clients that already have Upwork accounts; those projects must be kept in the work marketplace. Taking them outside of Upwork is considered circumvention

The dos and don'ts for Upwork clients

Do check in with us if another website asks you to pay them using Upwork's Direct Contracts. They're most likely a fraudster or are misusing our services.

If you already have an Upwork account, don't give someone you're working with a different email address so you can use Direct Contracts. That's what we call circumventing your Upwork account, and it's against our Terms of Service.

Only use Direct Contracts to pay your freelancers, and check you are only paying for work that is allowed (see above Dos and don'ts for independent professionals).


Suspect someone's breaking the rules?

If something seems suspicious or too good to be true, it may be—so let us know. Just use the "Flag as Inappropriate" button to send an alert to our Trust & Safety team. You can also tell us by reaching out to Upwork Support (use the Get Help button below). 

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