Exclusive vs. Non-Exclusive Agency Members

Agency members who are exclusive work on Upwork only as part of their agency. This is the most common type of agency relationship. Their profile and proposals are branded with the agency to make the agency’s part in the work relationship clear to clients. All contracts payments are paid out to the agency.

Agency members who are non-exclusive can work on Upwork independently or as part of an agency. When the contract is with the freelancer as an agency member, contract payments are paid out to the agency. However, contracts independent of the agency are paid directly to the freelancer. Non-exclusive agency members have the option to submit proposals as a freelancer or as an agency member.

Setting Your Default Team

By default, non-exclusive agency members appear on Upwork as independent freelancers not associated with an agency. If you wish to be treated as an agency member in search results, on your profile, and by default when clients reach out to you, you can set the agency as your default team by going to SettingsMy Teams.

Search Results

If you are an exclusive agency member OR a non-exclusive agency member with your default team set to the agency, the agency will appear is search results and the Agency Job Success Score (“JSS”) is displayed:


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If you are a non-exclusive agency member with no default team, the agency is not mentioned in search results and your Freelancer JSS is displayed:


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* Freelancers who are a non-exclusive agency member will not appear in the search results when a client filters results to only include agencies unless the agency is set as their default team. This means that if all members of an agency are non-exclusive, the agency will not show up in these search results ever.

Job Success Score

If you are an exclusive agency member with enough contracts to qualify for a JSS, the Agency JSS is listed on your profile.

If you are a non-exclusive agency member with enough contracts to qualify for a JSS, your Freelancer JSS is listed on your profile and is calculated based on contracts you completed both independently and as part of the agency.

Sending a Proposal

When you submit a proposal as a non-exclusive agency member, you have the option to either submit the proposal as an individual or as a member of the agency (shown below). Exclusive members don’t have this option and all their proposals are submitted as members of the agency.


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When you submit a proposal as an agency member, the agency and Agency JSS will display to the client in any of the following scenarios:

  • You are an exclusive agency member
  • You are a non-exclusive agency member, but set the agency as your default team
  • You are a non-exclusive agency member, but submitted the proposal as a member of the agency

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Responding to an Invitation to Apply

If you are an exclusive agency member, responding to an invitation to apply will place any subsequent proposal on behalf of the agency.

If you are a non-exclusive agency member, you will have the option to submit the proposal as an independent freelancer or as a member of the agency, regardless of whether or not you have set the agency as your default team.

Accepting a Job Offer

When a client sends a direct offer (without preceding proposal) to an exclusive agency member or a non-exclusive agency member who has set the agency as their default team, the subsequent contract will be created with that agency member through the agency. If a direct offer (without preceding proposal) is sent to a non-exclusive agency member who does not have the agency set as their default team, the subsequent contract will be created solely under the agency member’s freelancer account and not through the agency.

For any offers sent in response to a submitted proposal, the contract will match the proposal context (i.e., if the proposal was sent as an agency project, it will be an agency offer and subsequent contract; if it was sent as a freelancer, the offer and contract will be with the freelancer).

Only the agency owner and Business Managers can accept agency offers.

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