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Updates Relating to Recent Events in Eastern Europe

kochubei_valeria
Community Manager
Last updated: April 20, 2022

 

On March 7, 2022, Upwork announced our intention to suspend business operations in Russia and Belarus. For more information about this decision and how it may impact you, please see here.

 

We are heartbroken about the Russian government’s tragic decision to wage an unprovoked attack on Ukraine. If you are in Ukraine or impacted by the invasion of Ukraine, we hope that you are safe. Upwork is committed to supporting our community and we are here to be a resource in the event your work may be disrupted. Our team is working around the clock to help our customers navigate, and we will continue to share more as this crisis evolves.

 

As a result of the ongoing invasion, Upwork and our payment partners are subject to a number of sanctions and policy decisions that may impact you or the freelancer or client you are working with. Banks, payment providers, and payment processors are experiencing sanctions, delays and in some cases are choosing to suspend operations in the region and, as a result, payments and disbursements are expected to be unreliable.

 

If you are directly impacted by sanctions or our partner decisions about which countries they will support, we will reach out to you directly as soon as we can.

 

Please review additional details in the Frequently Asked Questions section of this page. We want to note the following important limitations at this time:

  • Payoneer announced that effective March 5, they are no longer accepting new customers located in Russia. This means that the Payoneer withdrawal option will only be available for existing customers located in Russia. Customers are encouraged to contact Payoneer directly to inquire about their ability to receive deposited funds.
  • American Express announced that they are suspending operations in Russia and Belarus effective March 6, which means that transactions to and from these regions cannot be supported.
  • PayPal, MasterCard, and Visa stopped providing service to customers in Russia, on March 5 for PayPal and March 6 for Visa and Mastercard and further financial institutions may make similar changes with respect to Russia and Belarus, and we will provide notice whenever we are able to do so.
  • Geographic sanctions do not limit you from working with freelancers or clients in Ukraine, Russia, or Belarus, except if the customer is in the Donbas region of Ukraine, described in President Biden’s Executive Order as the “so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) or Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) regions of Ukraine.” 
  • Banks and financial institutions have been sanctioned as well, which means that we and our payment processors are prohibited from completing certain transactions for customers of those banking and financial institutions. This can affect you even if you are not in Russia or Belarus, if your financial institution is based in Russia or Belarus. If your bank is impacted, we will reach out to you directly as soon as we are able to do so. However, these requirements may go into effect immediately, meaning we are unable to give you advance notice.
  • Specific individuals and entities have been sanctioned, meaning that Upwork cannot support those individuals on our work marketplace. This has only impacted a very small number of customers and if one of your contracts is impacted, we will reach out to you directly.

This page will be continually updated with new details and changes as the invasion of Ukraine continues to evolve. Please check back frequently.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 



Sanctions

 

How are my freelancers in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus affected? 

Currently, sanctions imposed in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine include limits on working with anyone in the Donbas region of Ukraine (as described here), as well as specific individuals, entities, and banks based in Russia.

 

There are currently no sanctions that prevent freelancers located in other areas of Ukraine from continuing work on Upwork, though, they may be impacted by banking limitations. That said, Beginning on March 7, 2022, Upwork will not allow new customers from Russia or Belarus to join and will start suspending all new business where either a client or a freelancer is located within Russia or Belarus.

 

Current contracts will remain open to allow you to wind down the contract, with final billing due by May 1, 2022. If your freelancer was impacted by bank sanctions or is currently located in Russia or Belarus, we emailed them directly.

 

Can I keep working with my freelancers in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus? 

Currently, sanctions imposed in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine include limits on working with anyone in the Donbas region of Ukraine (as described here), as well as specific individuals, entities, and banks based in Russia.

 

Further, Beginning on March 7, 2022, Upwork will not allow new customers from Russia or Belarus to join and will start suspending all new business where either a client or a freelancer is located within Russia or Belarus.

 

Current contracts will remain open to allow you to wind down your contract, with final billing due by May 1, 2022. There are currently no sanctions that impact your ability to continue to work with freelancers in other regions of Ukraine or other neighboring countries.

 

I am in Eastern Europe, can I keep using Upwork?

Currently, sanctions imposed in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine include limits on working with anyone in the Donbas region of Ukraine (as described here), as well as specific individuals, entities, and banks based in Russia. There are currently no sanctions that impact your ability to continue to use Upwork if you are in other regions of Ukraine or neighboring countries.

 

Beginning on March 7, 2022, Upwork will not allow new customers from Russia or Belarus to join and will start suspending all new business where either a client or a freelancer is located within Russia or Belarus. Current contracts will remain open to allow you to wind down the contract, with final billing due by May 1, 2022.

 

What does it mean for me that certain affected financial institutions are no longer connected to SWIFT?

Certain affected financial institutions are being removed from SWIFT, effective March 12, 2022, which means that we will not be able to transfer funds to those financial institutions in Russia. This means that you will not be able to disburse your funds using wire and direct-to-local banks will be limited to withdraw funds to any Russian-based financial institution. If you are using a Payoneer account as an existing customer, please reach out to them to assess whether they will be able to transfer your funds to you.

 

How can we be sure not to violate sanctions by doing business with Russian-based or Russian-owned businesses?

At this time, Upwork is prohibited from working with anyone in either of the regions specified in the Executive Order or subsequent areas and with other specified individuals and entities. Except where there is a “wind-down” period, as with certain regions specified in the sanctions, anyone in a sanctioned area or on a sanctions list cannot use Upwork in any way.

 

While we are unable to provide advice on how these sanctions may be applicable to your business relationships outside of Upwork, you may click here for more information on current sanctions imposed.

 

What banks are impacted? What banks can I use?

Certain banks have been sanctioned, and due to limitations placed directly upon Upwork and our payment processors, we are unable to support certain banks. You can use any bank that is not sanctioned. Please note that these sanctions are based on the bank, not on your location. So even if you are not in a directly affected region, you may need to update your payment method.

 

The biggest banks that have been sanctioned that impact our customers are the following, and these include various branches so your bank’s name may not be identical and may still be sanctioned:

● BANK DABRABYT JOINT STOCK COMPANY (BANK MOSCOW-MINSK JSC)

● BANK OTKRITIE 

● BELINVESTBANK JSC

● GAZPROMBANK JOINT STOCK COMPANY

● PAO ROSGOSSTRAKH BANK

● PROMSVYAZBANK

● PUBLIC JOINT STOCK COMPANY KB VOSTOCHNY (ORIENT EXPRESS BANK)

● SBERBANK (SAVINGS BANK OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION) 

 

You can check if your bank has been sanctioned by searching at this website which is a database of all persons and entities sanctioned by the U.S. Government.

 

What banks were banned from SWIFT?

On March 1, 2022, the European Union, which governs SWIFT, announced that effective March 12, 2022, the following banks will be delisted from SWIFT together with subsidiaries. The effect will be that these banks will largely be limited from engaging in global banking, and Upwork and our payment partners will not be able to support any transfer of funds to these banks:

● VNESHECONOMBANK (VEB)

● NOVIKOMBANK

● BANK OTKRITIE

● PROMSVYAZBANK 

● BANK ROSSIYA

● PAO ROSGOSSTRAKH BANK

● VTB BANK

 

My credit card is issued in Russia—why is my credit card declined?

Our payment processors are limited in processing credit card payments from credit cards issued in Russia due to sanctions. Further, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express recently announced that they are no longer supporting customers in Russia.

 

These limitations are in addition to those placed on sanctioned banks, which processors cannot support. If your card is not working, you may add another card as long as it is not issued in Russia or by one of the sanctioned banks.

 

The largest banks that have been sanctioned that impact our customers are the following, and these include various branches so your bank’s name may not be identical and may still be sanctioned:

● BANK DABRABYT JOINT STOCK COMPANY (BANK MOSCOW-MINSK JSC)

● BANK OTKRITIE

● BELINVESTBANK JSC

● GAZPROMBANK JOINT STOCK COMPANY

● PAO ROSGOSSTRAKH BANK

● PROMSVYAZBANK

● PUBLIC JOINT STOCK COMPANY KB VOSTOCHNY (ORIENT EXPRESS BANK)

● SBERBANK (SAVINGS BANK OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION)

 

I am not a citizen of Russia/Ukraine, but I live here and/or traveled here. How does this impact me?

On February 21, 2022, President Biden issued sanctions in an Executive Order that prohibit Upwork from supporting transactions with anyone or between any Upwork customers where one or both are physically located in the “so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) or Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) regions of Ukraine.” Subsequently, the United States and other countries have sanctioned a number of banks, which means that we and our payment processors can no longer support these banks. 

 

This is an evolving crisis, so if you or someone you’re working with is impacted, you may click here to learn more about financial institutions affected by sanctions. Further, Beginning on March 7, 2022, Upwork will not allow new customers from Russia or Belarus to join and will start suspending all new business where either a client or a freelancer is located within Russia or Belarus. Please see here for more details.

 

If a bank is sanctioned after a wire transfer starts processing—will this come back to Upwork?

The United States and other countries have sanctioned a number of banks, which means that we and our payment processors can no longer support these banks. In addition, it is possible there will be outages due to infrastructure or other issues that may impact your ability to make and withdraw payments. 

 

Further, we are having difficulty processing wires to certain regions due to partner limitations. In the event that an in-progress transaction is initiated to a sanctioned bank, these funds may be returned to Upwork but would depend upon the bank’s timeframe for transaction reversals. Note that if these funds are returned to Upwork, this may take time as they may be subject to a banking hold. 

 

To determine what alternative payment options are available or to update your payment method used to make payments, you may click here. For selecting an alternate withdrawal method, you may click here.

 

Hiring 

 

Should I stop interviewing or sending offers to freelancers in Ukraine?

No, at this time we do not believe that is necessary. The sanctions only apply to specific regions in Ukraine, and we have implemented technical blocks to prohibit freelancers in these regions from applying for or entering into new contracts.

 

Verify Account

 

My account has been suspended, but I am not in a sanctioned region. How can I appeal?

If you believe we have made a mistake, please ensure your address is current. If it is not current:

● Clients may update address here

● Freelancers may update address here

 

If it is current, you may appeal this decision by emailing us at support-appeals@upwork.com. Please allow 72 hours to receive an initial response from our team.

 

Making Payments and Getting Paid

 

I have relocated outside of Russia or Belarus, but I am now being asked to change my payment source to reinstate my account. What should I do?

As you may know, Upwork has suspended business in Russia and Belarus, which means that payment processing to and from these regions is no longer available. If you have relocated to a region where Upwork operates, we encourage you to appeal for reinstatement of your account. Note that in order to resume bank account transfers, you must also update your payment information to include an account with an address outside of these regions. Due to these limitations, also be advised that any requests for a Confirmation of Services (COS) form where the recipient is a financial institution located in Russia or Belarus cannot be accommodated.

I am located in areas impacted by sanctions and I am unable to withdraw my funds. Can you help me?

Upwork has been carefully monitoring the invasion of Ukraine, and our thoughts are with you and your family at this difficult time. We understand that sanctions have been applied in certain areas, impacting our ability to transmit funds to several financial institutions.

 

If you or someone you’re working with is impacted, you may click here to learn more about financial institutions affected by sanctions. If you need to add an alternate withdrawal method, you may do so by clicking here.

 

How can I help freelancers in Russia get their funds if Russia is banned from SWIFT?

Certain affected financial institutions are being removed from SWIFT, which means that we will not be able to transfer funds to those financial institutions in Russia or their subsidiaries. That means that many methods for Russian freelancers to withdraw their funds are limited and there is nothing we can do to enable them to do so.

 

If your freelancer uses Payoneer, they will need to reach out to them to determine whether Payoneer can transfer funds to the freelancers. We do not advise that you attempt to provide payment to your freelancer outside of Upwork.

 

I am located in a sanctioned region and currently have active contracts. What will happen with the funds in my Upwork account?

Upwork is prohibited from working with anyone in either of the regions specified in the Executive Order. That means that if you are in that region, we cannot allow you to continue on our platform after March 23, 2022, and you may not submit proposals or enter into new contracts. If you have an active contract, please note that you will not be able to make payments or withdraw any funds after March 23, 2022, even if the work was completed prior to that date.

 

To allow for adequate processing time of payments by the March 23, 2022, 4:01 AM UTC deadline, no hours should be invoiced on hourly contracts beyond March 13, 2022, and all fixed-price payments should be approved by March 18 at 4:01 AM UTC. Please discuss winding down your contract.

 

If you have a balance in your Upwork account that you need to disburse to your payment source, feel free to email us at support-responses@upwork.com for support.

 

If you need to add an alternate withdrawal method, please click here.

 

I’m not in Ukraine, Russia, or Belarus—but my payment method isn’t working. What should I do?

The United States and other countries have sanctioned a number of banks, which means that we and our payment processors can no longer support these banks. In addition, it is possible there will be outages due to infrastructure or other issues that may impact your ability to make and withdraw payments. In addition, we are having difficulty processing wires to certain regions due to partner limitations.

 

If your payment method isn’t working, please consider adding an additional or different payment method. To determine what alternative payment options are available or to update your payment method used to make payments, you may click here. For selecting an alternate withdrawal method, you may click here.

 

I am impacted by these events. Is Upwork considering accelerating the release of payments to freelancers?

To help support our freelance community in Ukraine, we’re offering expedited payments on hourly contracts for all talent who have a tax/profile address there and an account in good standing.


As long as your client’s billing method can be charged successfully and they don’t dispute your hours, we’ll apply their payment to your Upwork account five days earlier if you resided in Ukraine at the start of the war. This means we’ll apply the payment on Fridays at 5:00 AM UTC. You can then withdraw your money anytime you prefer.


To receive expedited payment:

1. Go to Reports > Overview
2. Choose the Get Paid Now button. You can do this even if you have an automatic payment schedule set up and want your earnings sooner. You won’t have to change your regular payment schedule.


Note: Remember, we apply the payments on Friday at 5:00 AM UTC, so consider the difference in time zone when looking for your available payments.

 

For freelancers located in Russia, Belarus, or Ukraine, is Payoneer an option for withdrawals?

The United States and other countries have sanctioned a number of banks, which means that we and our payment processors can no longer support these banks. In addition, it is possible there will be outages due to infrastructure or other issues that may impact your ability to make and withdraw payments. If you are using a Payoneer account to initiate withdrawals, please reach out to them directly to assess whether they will be able to transfer your funds to you.

 

As of March 5, Payoneer is no longer accepting new customers in Russia. This means that the Payoneer option will only be available for existing customers. Note that this is a rapidly evolving crisis and as circumstances change, this may impact other payment options.

 

For freelancers located in Russia, Belarus, or Ukraine, is PayPal an option for withdrawals?

On March 5, PayPal announced that it was no longer servicing customers in Russia and that the change was effective immediately. That means that if you are in Russia, you will no longer be able to use PayPal.


Further, PayPal is not servicing customers in Ukraine for commercial payouts or mass payouts. Users in this region can send peer-to-peer payments or transfer funds from their PayPal wallet to an eligible credit card or debit card, but no Upwork payouts as these are commercial. Please contact PayPal directly for questions on any funds you currently hold with PayPal.

 

 I’m not in Russia, why isn’t my wire or direct-to-local bank transfer working?

Certain affected financial institutions are being removed from SWIFT, effective March 12, 2022, which means that we will not be able to transfer funds to those financial institutions in Russia or their subsidiaries. Please check if your bank is affected by the removal from SWIFT or by sanctions. If it is, you may not be able to use our wire and direct-to-local bank services to transfer funds to those institutions. If you are using a Payoneer account as an existing customer, please reach out to them to assess whether they will be able to transfer your funds to you.

 

I am in Russia, can I let my funds stay on Upwork?

Certain affected financial institutions are being removed from SWIFT, which means that we will not be able to transfer funds to those financial institutions in Russia or their subsidiaries. Further, Beginning on March 7, 2022, Upwork will not allow new customers from Russia or Belarus to join and will start suspending all new business where either a client or a freelancer is located within Russia or Belarus. Customers with undisbursed funds and active contracts will be provided with a wind-down period to wrap up outstanding projects until May 1, 2022. After May 1, we will allow the standard period for client review and approval and security, and a reasonable amount of time for freelancers to withdraw funds.

 

We encourage you to complete projects and withdraw funds as soon as possible, as we cannot guarantee continued availability of our payment partners. If you are unable to withdraw funds in your account by the wrap-up date, they will be retained for you to withdraw once the policy changes or you relocate outside of the impacted area, unless Upwork is otherwise required by law to take a different action.

 

I’m not in Ukraine, Russia, or Belarus—but my payment method isn’t working. What should I do?

The United States and other countries have sanctioned a number of banks, which means that we and our payment processors can no longer support these banks. In addition, it is possible there will be outages due to infrastructure or other issues that may impact your ability to make and withdraw payments. In addition, we are having difficulty processing wires to certain regions due to partner limitations.

 

If your payment method isn’t working, please consider adding an additional or different payment method. To determine what alternative payment options are available or to update your payment method used to make payments, you may click here. For selecting an alternate withdrawal method, you may click here.

 

The Ukrainian government has initiated a tax reform. What is Upwork charging for VAT?

Ukraine VAT is currently still at 20%, but in consideration of a recent presidential announcement and simplified taxation structure for most individual entrepreneurs, Upwork has paused the collection of VAT for Ukraine customers at this time. Effective March 22nd, there will be no VAT fees collected on transactions for Upwork services including membership fees, service fees, and connects.

 

If you believe that you are still subject to local VAT notwithstanding these changes, please opt-in by emailing us at support-responses@upwork.com.

 

Managing Communications

 

I am worried about someone I work with in Ukraine. What can I do?

Upwork has been carefully monitoring the invasion of Ukraine, and the safety and well-being of our community is our top priority. For those impacted by these events, we’ve taken steps to contact them to offer guidance and address any questions. We also encourage you to connect with your clients or freelancers using the message center. 

 

This is a difficult time for many, and while communication may be limited, they would certainly appreciate hearing from you. Additionally, we are committed to keeping this page updated as we learn more about the invasion of Ukraine, so check back often.

 

Contract Status

 

I am located in one of the regions specified in the Executive Order. What will happen to my Upwork contracts?

If you have a contract with another Upwork customer that was entered into prior to February 21, 2022, 4:01 AM UTC, you may continue to work on that contract and make and receive payments until March 23, 2022, 4:01 AM UTC. Please note that you will not be able to make payments or withdraw any funds after March 23, 2022, 4:01 AM UTC, even if the work was completed prior to that date. 

 

To allow for adequate processing time of payments by the March 23, 2022, 4:01 AM UTC deadline, no hours should be invoiced on hourly contracts beyond March 13, 2022, and all fixed-price payments should be approved by March 18 at 4:01 AM UTC.

 

Please discuss winding up your contract with your clients. In addition, certain payment methods are being impacted by sanctions and the ability of our payment processors to support different methods. To determine what alternative payment options are available or to update your payment method used to make payments, you may click here. For selecting an alternate withdrawal method, you may click here.

 

I have a contract with a freelancer in Ukraine. Should I cancel the contract?

No, at this time we do not believe that is necessary. The sanctions only apply to specific regions in Ukraine. If one of your freelancers is located in the sanctioned regions, we will reach out to you to let you know. If you have a contract you entered into before February 21, 2022, 4:01 AM UTC with a freelancer in a sanctioned region, you will have until March 23, 2022, 4:01 AM UTC to wind up the contract. Please note that you will not be able to make payments after March 23, 2022, even if the work was completed prior to that date.

 

To allow for adequate processing time of payments by the March 23, 2022, 4:01 AM UTC deadline, no hours should be invoiced on hourly contracts beyond March 13, 2022, and all fixed-price payments should be approved by March 18 at 4:01 AM UTC. Please discuss winding up your contract with your freelancer. Upwork is instituting blocks to prevent you from entering into a contract with a freelancer in these regions in the future.

 

I am working with a freelancer located in one of the areas specified in the Executive Order. Since Upwork is unable to support my contract after March 23rd, am I able to work with them outside of Upwork?

Unfortunately, Upwork is unable to support this contract, and you must confirm for yourself how these sanctions may be applicable to your business relationships outside of Upwork. 

 

However, we are here to help ensure you have the resources needed to move forward as seamlessly as possible. Should you need assistance in your search for expert talent, feel free to email us at support-responses@upwork.com for support.

 

Upwork Support & Policies

 

I am located in Ukraine. How can Upwork support me during this time?

At this time, we are unable to offer any specific support. However, Upwork has been carefully monitoring the invasion of Ukraine, and we understand that recent events may impact you, your family, friends, and community. First and most importantly, we hope you are safe. As we learn more about this evolving crisis, we will keep the community updated. Please continue to visit this page for additional updates.

 

I am located in one of the regions specified in the Executive Order. How can Upwork support me during this time?

First and foremost, we hope you are safe. Unfortunately, Upwork is prohibited from working with anyone in either of the regions specified in the Executive Order or subsequent areas. That means that if you are in that region, we cannot allow you to continue on our platform after March 23, 2022, and you may not submit proposals or enter into new contracts. If you did not have an account prior to February 21, 2022, you cannot sign up to use Upwork.

 

What is Upwork doing to support our community during the crisis?

The Upwork team has been deeply saddened by the Russian government’s tragic decision to wage an unprovoked attack on Ukraine. Our company and culture have been forever impacted by the contributions of incredible people from this region. Our business is guided by the sole mission to create economic opportunities so people have better lives. Thus, supporting our team and community during such a devastating crisis is paramount.

 

 For our customers, we are committed to keeping you informed with the latest details as this crisis evolves, providing you with dedicated support channels to offer guidance and creative solutions to unique circumstances, and improving accessibility to resources with shorter response times and quicker handling.

 

For our community most impacted, Upwork is supporting trusted humanitarian relief organizations in the area including Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children, The Red Cross, and UNICEF who aim to provide emergency medical, housing, nutrition, and advocacy aid to those affected by this crisis. We are truly vested in the well-being and safety of this connected community of clients and freelancers. If you are working with a client or freelancer impacted by these events and need guidance on how best to support them, feel free to email us at support-responses@upwork.com for assistance.

 

What is Upwork doing to support customers impacted by events relating to the conflict in Eastern Europe?

Upwork has been carefully monitoring the attack on Ukraine, and the safety and well-being of our community is our top priority. We are committed to helping our talent and clients minimize potential disruptions during this time and are here to be a resource in the event their work is disrupted. As we learn more about this evolving crisis, we will keep the community updated. Please continue to visit this page for additional updates.

 

What will Upwork do about Russian freelancers and businesses on the platform?

At this time, Upwork is prohibited from working with anyone in either of the regions specified in the Executive Order and with other specified individuals and entities. This is an evolving crisis, and as additional financial or geographic sanctions are applied, or additional individuals or entities are added to the sanctions list, we will ensure our compliance with the imposed sanctions. We are committed to keeping the community updated on these changes.

 

Why hasn’t Upwork helped in previous political conflicts or natural disasters?

We appreciate that feedback. At Upwork, we strive to provide support and check in on the well-being of our customers when they are at risk of experiencing disruptions to their business caused by conflict, natural disasters, and other emergencies. While we wish there were fewer crises, not more, we do intend to continue improving our processes and communication around such events in the future.

 

Additional Resources

Below, you’ll find links to Help Center resources that should help you navigate questions related to your specific situations.

 

Impacted Freelancers

If you are a freelancer and have questions on how these recent events may impact your account and/or contracts, please see the frequently asked questions and related Help Articles below.

Impacted Clients

If you are a client and have questions on how these recent events may impact your account and/or contracts, please see the frequently asked questions and related Help Articles below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If none of these scenarios fit your specific needs or if you would like to connect to Customer Support, please click here or email our team directly at support-responses@upwork.com.