Section 7 of Upwork’s User Agreement provides that all conversations and interviews between a client and freelancer before a contract has started must take place through the Upwork platform, unless an exception applies.

What is an interview?

After a freelancer provides a proposal to a job or responds to a direct inquiry from a client, the freelancer and client have entered the “interview” stage of a project. The interview stage of a project includes:

  • Project scoping
  • Assessment of the freelancer’s skills and availability by the client
  • Assessment of the client and project details by the freelancer
  • Contract negotiations

This could include conversations through text-based messaging, sharing and discussing project details, video meetings or voice calls. All of these processes are required to take place through Upwork Messages and collaboration tools.

Staying on Upwork and following these best practices can also help keep you safe.



  • Learn more about using Upwork Messages here.
  • Check out our interview tips here.
  • Learn more about sharing your information safely here.



Clients who subscribe to Upwork Business or Enterprise membership plans, and the freelancers who are interviewing with them, are exempt from this rule.

These clients are free to request and conduct interviews outside of Upwork before a contract starts.

Freelancers who are engaging with a Business or Enterprise client are free to interview with those clients outside of Upwork. You can learn more about this exception here.


Neither clients nor talent may request to interview or conduct conversations outside of Upwork before a contract starts. All users must conduct interviews and related communications before a contract starts on the Upwork platform.

Requesting or participating in an interview off-platform is a violation of Upwork’s Terms of Service and can result in warnings, holds, and/or account suspension. These users can fully lose the ability to use the Upwork platform.

Learn more about the best practices for sharing information on Upwork here.


When does a contract “start”?

A contract starts when a freelancer has accepted the first contract offer from a client.

My client/freelancer and I have worked together before, do we need to go back to Upwork to converse before we start a new contract?

No, after your first contract you and your client/freelancer may communicate outside of Upwork.

Important: When you meet on Upwork you are required, per our of Terms of Service, to continue to use and bill through Upwork for at least two years. Learn more here.

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