When you start a new Marketplace or Project Catalog contract, you pay a one-time contract initiation fee of up to $9.95 USD. We charge this fee when you make the first payment to a freelancer.

You’ll pay this fee for each new contract, even if the contract is with a freelancer you’ve worked with before.

The amount of this fee may vary, up to $9.95 USD, as we collect data and feedback. Once that’s complete, we’ll update Help and Community with any pricing changes. We’ll also directly notify you in advance if you are impacted by pricing updates.

You’ll see the exact fee that you’re paying as a separate line item when you check out. After you pay the fee, you’ll receive a separate invoice for the fee, along with any applicable taxes. You will also see it as a separate line item in your transaction history, but it will not appear on your weekly summary.

Benefits of Upwork


These features are available to all clients:

  • Access to premium talent, including Rising Talent, Top Rated, and Top Rated Plus
  • Ability to invite up to 30 freelancers to your job
  • Multiple report options — weekly summary, transactions, Work Diary, budgets, timesheet, time by freelancer, time by activity, and custom export
  • Coworker teams and advanced member permissions settings
  • Activity codes for organizing work on hourly contracts
  • Advanced freelancer search
  • Only pay a fee when you make payments (as opposed to a monthly subscription cost regardless of whether you have an active Upwork project)

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you charge the contract initiation fee when the freelancer accepts the contract?

No, we realize not all contracts have work started on them, or funds paid out. For hourly contracts, we charge the fee when you make the first payment to a freelancer, including hourly payments, bonuses, or any other payments. For fixed-price contracts, you’ll pay this fee when you fund the contract or first milestone.

On a fixed-price contract, do I have to pay the contract initiation fee when I fund the contract or first milestone?

Yes, you’ll pay the once-per-contract initiation fee when you fund the first escrow deposit for fixed-price contracts. However, if the contract is canceled and no payment is released to the freelancer, we’ll return the contract initiation fee.

Do you charge the contract initiation fee again if I add new milestones to an existing contract?

No, if you are continuing an existing contract and just adding milestones, you will not have to pay the contract initiation fee again.

Does the fee amount vary by contract value, and how will I know how much my fee will be?

No, the contract initiation fee is a flat fee of up to $9.95 USD. You’ll be able to see the exact amount for your contract when you check out. The contract initiation fee will show as a separate line item.

If a freelancer refunds my contract payment, will you also refund my contract initiation fee?

No, the once-per-contract initiation fee will not be refunded after you have made a payment to a freelancer, even if the freelancer issues you a refund.

If I dispute a contract and win my dispute, will you refund my contract initiation fee?

No, the once-per-contract initiation fee isn’t eligible for a refund after you have made a payment to a freelancer, even if the contract payment to the freelancer is refunded due to a dispute.

Where can I see the contract initiation fee in my invoices and reports? Is it included in the Weekly Billing Summary?

You’ll receive a separate invoice for the contract initiation fee, which includes the fee and any applicable taxes. You can also see the fee and any applicable taxes as line items on your transaction history. It does not display on your Weekly Billing Summary, which reflects payments to freelancers.

Will I pay the contract initiation fee if I hire an agency?

Yes, you will pay the contract initiation fee for the start of a new contract with an agency.

If I rehire a freelancer I’ve worked with before, will you charge the contract initiation fee?

Yes, the fee is per contract. If you start a new contract, you’ll pay the contract initiation fee even if you have worked with the freelancer before.

If I hire multiple freelancers for one job through an agency or through a team proposal, will I have to pay the one-time contract initiation fee on each freelancer’s contract?

Yes, each new contract with a different freelancer will have a once-per-contract initiation fee, even if all the freelancers work for the same agency. If you hire 3 freelancers to work on a job, you’ll pay the fee 3 times.

Are you charging the contract initiation fee on Enterprise, Upwork Payroll, BYO, Any Hire, or Direct Contracts contracts?

As of March 2024, Direct Contracts contracts will have the same client fees as other Marketplace contracts, including the contract initiation fee. The other services have their own fee structures designed specifically for the features they offer.

Will the client marketplace fee apply to the contract initiation fee?

No, we will not apply an additional marketplace fee to the contract initiation fee. The client marketplace fee only applies to the contract value for the amount you pay the freelancer.

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