Section 7 of Upwork’s User Agreement prohibits clients and freelancers from circumventing Upwork during the first two years of their relationship. 

What is circumvention?

Circumvention is when a client and freelancer meet on Upwork, but choose to conduct their relationship outside of Upwork, typically by sending payment through another means outside the platform.  Circumvention happens when a client or freelancer asks or agrees to pay or be paid outside of Upwork.  

Circumvention is a serious violation of the Terms of Service. 

Steps taken in order to take a relationship off of our platform are also considered circumvention, like asking to be paid or make a payment outside of our service.



There are three exceptions to Upwork’s circumvention policy.

  • The Upwork Conversion Fee has been paid for the relationship.
  • A relationship started outside the platform, comes onto Upwork, and is then taken outside the platform. This includes Bring Your Own.
  • Relationships that have been maintained for two years or more on the platform.

In these cases, moving a relationship outside of Upwork is permitted under our Terms of Service, and does not count as circumvention. 


Violating the non-circumvention clause of the Terms of Service will result in account suspension.  These users will lose the ability to use Upwork, and can be charged the associated Conversion Fee for that relationship.


Is asking to be paid outside of Upwork a violation?

Yes, even asking to conduct payments outside of Upwork is circumvention and a violation of the Terms of Service.

How do I know if the Conversion Fee has been paid?

The Conversion Fee is paid per freelancer/client relationship. If your freelancer or client has paid the fee, Upwork will notify you that the fee has been paid and it is okay to proceed outside of the platform.

How do I know if the relationship is more than two years?

An Upwork relationship begins when the client and freelancer first “identify” each other. This could be the earlier date of a freelancer sending their proposal or a client sending an invite. The two year “clock” begins on that date.

You can always reach out to customer support to confirm. We recommend you notify us if you are taking a relationship outside of Upwork so we can make proper notation in your accounts should they be reviewed by our Trust & Safety teams.

What if my Client/Freelancer asks to pay outside of Upwork?

You should respond with an answer to the effect of "decline respectfully" and let your client/freelancer know that this is against the rules. If you agree to your client/freelancer's request you are violating Upwork's Terms of Service.

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