At Upwork, we’re committed to helping you connect with the talent and expertise you need.

With Direct Contracts, you can easily work with independent professionals in over 180 countries and enjoy the support of features such as escrow services, dispute assistance, simplified contract management, and secure payments.

Follow these quick steps to get started:

Review and accept a contract


Freelancers can send Direct Contracts straight to you via email. First, you'll want to review the contract details.

1. Check your email

Look for a Review Contract email from Upwork with contract details, like your freelancer's name. For security, we'll ask that you confirm your email with a quick 6-digit code before starting your full review.

The contract may be set up two different ways, which you will see in the initial email:

  • Fixed-price — The freelancer sets a price for the completed work. The work and pricing may be broken down into steps that are called milestones
  • Hourly — The freelancer works for a set price per hour. You agree on a maximum number of hours that can be billed per week
2. Review contract details

Review the full contract details.

If you decide to accept the contract, you’ll need to sign up for an Upwork account first. Fill out your name or company name, tagline, description, and website URL (no email addresses, phone numbers, or chat IDs, please). You can also upload a picture of your company logo.

Next you can sign and accept the contract to get started.

If you need any changes to the contract before you accept it, reach out to your freelancer directly. They will need to withdraw the contract and submit a new one.

You can also choose to decline the proposal.

Contract details view

3. Enter your billing method

Enter a billing method to fund your contract and get started. We accept PayPal and credit cards, and if you are U.S.-based, you may be eligible to use a bank account.

  • For a fixed-price contract, you will place funds in escrow to activate the contract or milestone, but we won’t release the funds to the freelancer until after they submit the work and you have had a chance to review it.. You and the freelancer may choose to have them submit the work all at once or break it down into multiple milestones. If you break it down into milestones, you will fund and approve one milestone at a time
  • For an hourly contract, we will invoice you each Monday for the hours that the freelancer worked during the previous week, which you pay weekly.
Add a new card and fund
4. Success!

Congratulations! You and your freelancer will both receive confirmation emails from Upwork, and your contract can begin.

Contract funded notification

Pay for Work


Once your contract is funded, it becomes active. For fixed-price contracts, when the freelancer completes the work, you can review the results and release a payment. For hourly contracts, we will bill you weekly for the previous week’s hours.

1. Check your email
  • Fixed-price contracts — your freelancer will send a payment request when the work is done
  • Hourly contracts — we will invoice you each Monday based on the hours your freelancer billed to you the previous week
2. Review the request

Fixed-price contracts — After you review the payment request, you can accept it and release your payment. You can also choose to decline the request and request changes to the work. If you do not respond to a fixed-price payment request within 14 days, Upwork will automatically release the payment to your freelancer’s pending payments, as authorized by the escrow instructions you and your freelancer agree to.

Hourly contracts — We will invoice you each Monday for the freelancer’s hours from the previous week. You have 4 business days to review the hours, Monday to Thursday. Unless you dispute the hours, we will automatically release the funds to your freelancer’s pending payments at the end of the review period.

3. You're all set!

When you accept the fixed-price payment request (either by choosing “Approve Payment” or taking no action for 14 days), we will send your payment, a confirmation, and a contract invoice to your freelancer. For hourly contracts, we will send your payment for the billed hours to the freelancer’s pending payments the day after the review period ends, unless you dispute it within the review period. The review period ends on Thursday; we release payments to the freelancer’s pending payments on Friday.

4. File your invoice

We'll email you to confirm that we released your payment. You can keep the attached invoice/project receipt for your records.

Learn more about the Direct Contract experience for a freelancer here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I start more contracts with my freelancer after I accept their DIrect Contracts invitation?

The freelancer who invited you to Direct Contracts needs to initiate all your contracts together to receive discounted freelancer service fees. If you want to work with any other freelancers on Upwork, you’ll need to initiate those contracts by posting a job or making a direct offer.

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