To help keep both you and your freelancers safe, protected, and on the same page — three important elements of building strong working relationships — we designed the platform to work within the escrow system.
When you enter a fixed-price contract with a freelancer, you’re required to fund at least the first milestone. Escrow is a neutral holding place where we put those funds until the project, or a project milestone, is completed. The funds stay in escrow until your freelancer or agency fulfills their obligations and you, satisfied with the work, release them.
On Upwork, you deposit the funds for fixed-price jobs into escrow (one contract, or milestone, at a time) and release them as you receive, review, and approve the agreed-upon work. The freelancer or agency can see you are willing and able to pay as promised, which gives them peace of mind, while you know you don’t have to give them the money until you are satisfied with the work, which gives you peace of mind.
Your initial escrow deposit can be for the full contract amount or simply for the first milestone. You can then add and fund additional milestones, as agreed with the freelancer or agency, throughout the contract. If you ever release less than the agreed milestone amount, the extra funds in escrow will roll forward to the next milestone. The funds stay in escrow until the agreed upon work is completed.
When a freelancer submits work, you have 14 days to approve it or request changes. Failure to respond within 14 days is considered approval and will result in the escrowed funds being automatically released. It is important to mark Request Changes on the contract in Upwork if you would like your freelancer or agency to edit their submitted work.
Learn more about
- Milestones for fixed-price jobs
- Fixed-price job offer deposits
- Review a milestone
- Approve a milestone
- Pay a bonus on a fixed-price job
- Reject or ask for changes on a milestone
- Add and activate more milestones
- End a fixed-price contract
- Fixed-price transaction history
- Inactive fixed-price contract gone dormant
Helpful articles about what escrow means for you
- Fixed Price vs. Hourly: Which Pricing Structure is Right for Your Freelance Project?
- If you choose to release less than the agreed amount for a milestone, your freelancer or agency may file a dispute for the remaining amount.
- When you end a contract with funds left in escrow, you’ll need to request an escrow refund. If the freelancer or agency rejects your request, it also becomes an escrow dispute.
If both parties can’t agree on who should receive the remaining escrowed money, the dispute will go to mediation (see the escrow instructions for details).