Elance and it's support channels are now closed. If you require assistance, please contact us at support.upwork.com

How does Elance Escrow help Freelancers manage Fixed Price jobs?

Elance Escrow is a safe and efficient way to pay for work delivered online. Once a job is awarded, you and your Client define and agree upon Milestones, and funds are then placed into Escrow. You can quickly and safely begin working knowing that payment is secure and will be released once work is completed, and Clients are protected knowing their funds are securely held in Escrow and will only be released to you when work is delivered and accepted.

Are you a Client hiring on Elance? Click here to learn how using Elance Escrow can help you manage your Fixed Price job!


  • Clients Pay Only for Results: Avoid taking risks and only release funds when work is approved. 

  • Jump-Start Jobs: Freelancers can immediately begin working knowing that funds are readily available.

  • Both Clients and Freelancers are eligible for Elance Dispute Assistance in the event that a job does not go as planned.

Note: Elance will send an Escrow Closing Statement to both parties at the completion of the job. This statement provides a summary view of the Escrow payments made between both parties. This statement is for information purposes only (as part of Elance's Escrow compliance).

How does Elance Escrow work?

When Clients and Freelancers are engaged on an Elance Escrow job, they work together at the beginning of a job to define the job timeline, scope and key Milestones. The use of Elance Escrow as the job's payment method enables both parties to tie all job payments directly to the deliverables defined in the job timeline.

Note: Escrow is not available for Hourly jobs. Working on an Hourly job? Learn more about using Work ViewTM to manage your hourly job by clicking here.

After the Client awards the Escrow job, you will automatically be notified if the job is awarded to you. You can either accept the Terms presented by your Client or update the job's Terms and Milestones.

For Escrow jobs, Milestones prompt Clients to deposit funds into the Escrow account and release payment when work is delivered. If you require Clients to submit an initial deposit to begin work on a job, the deposit amount should be the first job Milestone.

How are Milestones funded with Elance Escrow?

For Escrow jobs, Elance will automatically send a request to the Client to fund the first Milestone so that you can begin work, and we will send you a notification when the Client funds a job Milestone. Remember, you are not obligated to begin work until at least one Milestone is funded by the Client.

As the job progresses and Milestones are met, you can request that your Client fund other job Milestones. To request funding, go to the job Workroom, click Billing & Invoices and click Request Fund for the Milestone you want funded. Elance will then send your request to your Client.

How are funds released from Elance Escrow?

When you have completed the services related to a job Milestone, you can request the release of funds held in Escrow. When you request a Milestone release, the Client will receive a notification. You will also receive a notification when the Client approves a Milestone release.

To request release of a Milestone, please log into your account and follow these steps:

  1. Mouse over the Manage tab in the top navigation bar and then select Billing from the drop down list.

  2. Click Send Invoice from the left.

  3. Select the job that you want to request release of funds and click Next.

  4. Click the Request Release button next to the Milestone.

  5. The current week's Status Report will be shown and the chosen Milestone will automatically be marked as 100% complete and added to the Billing section.

  6. Enter any comments for the Client if desired.

  7. Click the green Submit button.

Alternatively, you may also request the release of funds held in Escrow by submitting a Status Report and marking the Milestone as 100% complete. To do so, please log into your account and follow these steps:

  1. Visit My Elance from the top navigation bar.

  2. On the right side of the appropriate job, click the Actions drop-down menu.

  3. Click the Status Reports link.

  4. Next, click the Create link.

  5. Mark the Milestone as 100% complete. The Add to Billing box will be automatically ticked.  The amount of the Milestone will be added to the billing section at the bottom of the Status Report.

  6. Add comments for your Client if desired.

  7. Click the green Submit button.

The Status Report will sent to your Client immediately.

When you mark the Milestone as 100% complete on the Status Report, not only is the completion of the Milestone documented, creating an important audit trail, the system automatically creates a pro-forma invoice for you to save time. Once the Client releases the Milestone, a final invoice is automatically created.

The Client has 30 days from the Release Request to review the work and either approve the release of funds from Escrow or dispute the request. If no action is taken by day 15, the payment is marked as "Overdue" and a reminder is sent to both parties. Elance will send multiple notifications alerting the Client that the 30 day deadline is nearing. If the Client has still not made payment 30 days after the Release Request, funds held in Escrow are released to the Freelancer.

If the Client is satisfied that the services have been provided in accordance with the job terms for the Milestone, they can release the funds from the Escrow account to your Elance account.

How can a Freelancer remove or void a Release Request?

As a Freelancer, you do have the ability to void a previously sent Release Request. To do so, please log into your account and follow these steps:

  1. Mouse over the Manage tab in the top navigation bar.

  2. Click Billing.

  3. From the Billing List, click on the View link for the Release Request that you wish to void.

  4. Click on the Void button in the upper right corner of the page.

Other important information about Elance Escrow

Why Does My Fund Escrow Status Show 'Pending'?

Elance allows Clients to use credit cards that have not been authenticated to initiate funding of the initial Milestone. In this case, the Escrow Milestone will appear as 'Pending' to the Freelancer. These funds in Escrow are not available for release until the authentication process is completed by the Client.

The status of the Milestone will automatically update to 'Funded' when the Client completes the authentication process.

Elance encourages Clients to complete the authentication process in a timely manner since Freelancers are not obligated to start working until the Milestone is funded.

What is a Dormant Job Escrow Account?

If a job has an Escrow account with a balance but has had no activity for sixty (60) consecutive days after the last Milestone date specified in the Terms, the job is considered to be "Dormant."

Any of the following actions qualify as "activity" before the job Escrow account is considered dormant.

  • Terms change request or acceptance

  • Escrow Funding Request

  • Escrow funding

  • Escrow Release Request

  • Escrow release

  • Escrow refund

  • Job cancellation request

  • Timesheet submittal

  • Status Report submittal

  • Any action completed as part of the Dispute Resolution Process

Balances in a Dormant Job Escrow Account are subject to the following:

  • Elance will notify the Client by their registered email address when jobs become dormant.

  • If no activity has occurred, other than Release Requests, within seven (7) days after the Dormant Date, Elance will notify the Freelancer by their registered email address that the job is dormant.

  • If no activity, other than Release Requests, has occurred within a further seven (7) days (fourteen (14) total days from the Dormant Date), the following will apply:

  1. Milestones with Release Requests that are thirty (30) days or older shall be immediately released to the Freelancer.

  2. Milestones with Release Requests younger than thirty (30) days shall be released to the Freelancer in thirty (30) days from the date of the applicable Release Request.

  3. Milestones with no prior Release Requests will be immediately released to the Client.

To reactivate your job's Escrow account, i.e. remove it from a "dormant" status, one of the following actions must take place:


  • Terms change request or acceptance

  • Escrow release

  • Job cancel request


  • Terms change request or acceptance

  • Escrow Release Request

Note: All releases from Dormant Job Escrow Accounts shall be subject to the applicable Elance Service Fees and Payment Processing Fees described in the User Agreement.

For more information, please review Fixed Price Escrow Instructions here.

What is Elance Escrow Payment Protection?

With Elance Escrow Clients pay only for work received and Freelancers get paid for work delivered and accepted. Specific terms and guidelines apply. Click the links below to learn more.

Was this article helpful?
42 out of 45 found this helpful


Quick Start Videos
Getting Started
Hiring on Elance
Providing Services
Technical Help
Trust & Safety


Elance University
A Freelancer’s Guide to Earning More
Privacy Policy
Terms of Service
Powered by Zendesk