Move Outside of Upwork

At Upwork, we work to create a safe, reliable place for clients and freelancers to get more done. Our network stretches across over 180 countries, with services offered on our marketplace ranging from Accounting to Writing.

Sometimes, clients and freelancers who have met through Upwork wish to work together directly outside of Upwork. We provide the option to do this easily, with a one-time payment of the Upwork Conversion Fee.

What does it mean to convert?

Sometimes, a freelancer and client decide that they would prefer to work together directly, without using Upwork for contracts and payments.

They can move their relationship, and all payments, outside of Upwork by paying the one-time Upwork Conversion Fee. These users can then define their relationship however they wish:

  • Making and receiving payments through other means
  • Direct W2 employment
  • Independent contract work

However, any relationship taken outside of Upwork will lose all Upwork protections and services. Relationships that convert no longer receive:

  • Work diaries
  • Milestone payment approvals
  • Payment protection
  • Dispute services

NOTE

We find that the most successful clients and freelancers emphasize clear communication. Our users recommend that those who plan to convert carefully discuss how it will impact work, why it makes more sense, how they plan to process payments and transfer work, and how they will communicate going forward.

It is very important to note that any relationship that converts will be direct, and will lose any and all Upwork protections. It’s also important to remember that conversion requires a one-time fee.

Who does the Upwork Conversion Fee impact?

The conversion fee impacts any Upwork users who have identified each other or met through Upwork’s marketplace and want to work together directly, outside of the platform. To take a relationship, and all payments, outside of Upwork, users must pay the Upwork Conversion Fee.

There are two exceptions to the policy:

  • Relationships that started outside the platform, come onto Upwork, and are then taken outside the platform can do so. It does not violate the Upwork Terms of Service or require the Upwork Conversion Fee.
  • Relationships that have been maintained for two years on the platform may be taken outside of Upwork, and it does not violate the Upwork Terms of Service or require the Upwork Conversion Fee.

NOTE

Business and Enterprise clients fall under different contract regulations. If you are a Business or Enterprise user interested in conversion, please reach out directly to your account manager for help. If your client is a Business or Enterprise client, please reach out to your client if you’d like to discuss conversion.

How do I take my relationship outside the Upwork Marketplace?

Email the team directly at conversionfee@upwork.com for information on taking your relationship outside of Upwork.

As a client, in your client contract room and on any specific contract under “all contracts,” you can also choose the Move Outside Upwork button to start the conversion process.

Each request is individually evaluated by our experts. After reviewing each relationship, Upwork will provide the requestor with the appropriate Conversion Fee. Learn more about how we calculate the fee here.

We will then work to ensure that all parties agree to move outside of Upwork, and our team will process the payment via the existing payment methods on file in your user account. User-initiated check/money orders/bank transfers will not be accepted.

 

NOTE

The Conversion Fee must be paid before making any payments outside of Upwork. The fee is paid once per each specific freelancer/client relationship. Taking a relationship outside of Upwork without first paying the Conversion Fee is a direct violation of the Upwork Terms of Service.

 

Who pays the Upwork Conversion Fee?

Either the client or freelancer can pay the fee. Although, only one user can pay the fee to Upwork.
The client and freelancer must agree who is to pay the Conversion Fee to Upwork. If they would like to share in the cost, they can arrange that between themselves.

 

What’s the Conversion Fee?

When you use Upwork to find a freelancer, we require you to use the Upwork platform to pay that freelancer for any work they complete for you during the following two years. However, since we know at times our customers prefer to take their relationships off Upwork, we have a Conversion Fee. By paying the Conversion Fee you can move your payments outside of Upwork without violating our Terms of Service (TOS). This way, you don’t have to worry about having your Upwork account permanently suspended and can continue to use it for other existing projects and future ones. The Conversion Fee is 12% of estimated earnings over a 12-month period. It is calculated by taking the freelancer’s highest hourly rate and multiplying it by 2,080 (40 hours/week X 52 weeks). 

How is this different than before, with the Opt-Out Fee?

We’ve changed the name of the “Opt-Out Fee” to “Conversion Fee” and also changed how we calculate it. The Conversion Fee is 12% of estimated earnings over a 12-month period. It is calculated by taking the freelancer’s highest hourly rate and multiplying it by 2,080 (40 hours/week X 52 weeks). If you agree to pay the Conversion Fee, you can move your relationship, and payments, outside of Upwork without violating our Terms of Service (TOS). This way, you don’t have to worry about having your Upwork account permanently suspended and can use Upwork for future projects.

How does the conversion fee work?

In general, the fee is 12% of the estimated annual income based on the freelancer’s hourly rate, with the minimum fee being  $1,000 and the maximum set at $50,000. The hourly rate we use to calculate the fee will be the greater of these:

  • The freelancer’s hourly rate on any Upwork hourly project

  • The freelancer’s proposed hourly rate for any hourly contract on Upwork

  • The hourly rate the freelancer lists on their profile 




Our team will calculate the fee for you and answer any questions so you can determine the best option for you. Just let us know how we can help.

Who do I contact if I want to pay the conversion fee to take my project off-platform?

You can contact us  through a dedicated email address, conversionfee@upwork.com, or (for clients) choose to start the process by clicking the Move Outside Upwork button in your contract room.

Do I have to pay the Conversion Fee all at once?

Yes, the fee must be paid in full, with one billing method.

What do I lose by taking my contract off Upwork?

When you pay the Conversion Fee and move your relationship outside of Upwork, we will no longer be able to offer any support, including customer service, payment protection, dispute resolution services, etc. Any issues that arise with payments, quality of work, deadlines, etc., must be resolved without our assistance.

Why shouldn’t I just take my freelancer/client off Upwork without paying the Conversion Fee?

Taking a freelancer/client relationship and making payments off of Upwork (we technically call it “circumvention”) is against our Terms of Service, which all customers agree to follow when they join Upwork. Taking a relationship outside of Upwork without paying the fee puts both the client and freelancer at risk for having their Upwork account permanently suspended, meaning they can no longer use Upwork at all. By paying the Conversion Fee, you can take the relationship and payments outside of Upwork and still stay in good standing on Upwork.

Are there exceptions to the Circumvention Policy?

There are two exceptions to the Upwork Circumvention Policy.

  • Relationships that started outside the platform, come onto Upwork, and are then taken outside the platform. These include existing partnerships or business relationships that may have added Upwork services at a later time, participants in Direct Contracts, and similar.
  • Relationships that have been maintained for two years on the platform may be taken outside of Upwork without payment of the Conversion Fee. Note that these relationships don’t need to be continuously active, and are not limited by a certain quantity of projects.
I heard there were changes to the Terms of Service; what were those?

Effective April 3, 2020, new updates to our Terms of Service were made to provide more clarity and ease if users want to take their relationship outside of Upwork. These changes renamed what was formerly the Opt Out Fee to the Upwork Conversion Fee and simplified the calculation to 12% of estimated 12 month earnings.

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