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Starfield Contraband: Sell, Hide, Smuggle, and Find

Not everything goes in Starfield, anything illegal is classified as contraband, marked by a yellow icon in your inventory. Getting caught with it means hefty fines, confiscated goods, or even jail time. Here's a complete guide on how to navigate this risky but potentially lucrative world.

What are Contraband Items?

Starfield features at least 8 confirmed Contraband items, including:

  • Aurora (a recreational drug)
  • Sentient AI Adapters
  • Stolen Artwork
  • Harvested Organs 
  • Mech Components 
  • Black Market Antiquities
  • Xenowarfare Tech
  • Va'Ruun Heretic Writings

How Contraband Works

Contraband pays well but selling them can be tricky. In most places in Starfield, having contraband is illegal. Neon is an exception; you can buy Aurora there but don't take it outside the city. If major factions like the United Colonies or Freestar Collective scan your ship and find contraband, they'll take it and fine you. It's best to avoid getting caught with these items.

Before heading to Settled Systems controlled by major factions, it's smart to sell or hide any contraband to avoid fines, confiscation, or arrest during a ship scan.

Where to Sell Contraband

Here's where you can sell your illegal goods and some things to consider:

Trade Authority Vendors (Safe, But Risky)

These legitimate vendors scattered throughout the Starfield world offer a seemingly safe way to sell Contraband. You'll find them in major hub worlds like:

  • New Atlantis-The capital city of the United Colonies, located on the planet Jemison.
  • Cydonia- A space station orbiting Mars, known for its historical significance and scientific research facilities.

The Catch? These vendors won't buy Contraband if your ship has been scanned upon entering a system controlled by major factions like the United Colonies or Freestar Collective.

The Den Space Station (Safe from Scans, Risky Reputation)

Nestled within the Wolf Star System, The Den is a haven for outlaws and smugglers. Its shady reputation might not appeal to all players, but it offers a key advantage:

  • No Incoming Scans. Unlike most stations, The Den doesn't scan incoming ships. This allows you to freely sell your Contraband without worrying about getting flagged by authorities.

However, The Den's clientele and overall atmosphere might not suit every character concept. If you're portraying a lawful character, associating with this station could have consequences for your reputation or character arc.

Red Mile on Porrima III (Haven for Smugglers and Outlaws)

Red Mile offers a haven for independent smugglers, located in Porrima III in Starfield Universe. It has its independent rule, access to Shielded Cargo Holds, and a willing buyer for contraband, it's also a valuable resource for those who operate on the fringes of the law. Here are more benefits of selling in Red Mile:

  • No major faction control makes it a lawless zone, ideal for selling contraband.
  • Sati Chandra, the bartender, readily buys your illegal goods.

Risks: Lawless environment, potential for disputes, careful travel planning required to avoid major faction patrols.

While Red Mile itself is safe for trading, traveling to and from it can be risky. You'll need to navigate around heavily patrolled systems controlled by major factions who might scan your ship and confiscate your contraband.

The Key (Kryx System)

Selling contraband at The Key in the Kryx System is generally considered very safe, unlike most stations controlled by major factions, The Key, a Crimson Fleet base, doesn't scan incoming ships for contraband. This eliminates the risk of getting caught with illegal goods upon arrival. But, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Crimson Fleet Membership- The biggest hurdle is that you need to be a member of the Crimson Fleet to access The Key for trade. This might not be ideal for players who prefer a more neutral or law-abiding playstyle.
  • Playstyle Alignment -Aligning with the Crimson Fleet might involve participating in activities like piracy or raids, which could conflict with your moral compass.
  • Internal Disputes- While unlikely, there's always a chance of encountering disputes or trouble within The Key, as it's a haven for outlaws and pirates.

Hiding and Smuggling Contraband

While getting caught with Contraband is always a risk, these methods can make it harder for authorities to detect your illegal cargo:

Shielded Cargo Hold

This expensive upgrade for your ship acts like a shielding device, significantly reducing the chance of your cargo being identified during scans. Think of it like a high-tech Faraday cage for your ship's hold, blocking scans from penetrating and revealing your goods.

How to Get Shielded Cargo Holds

You can purchase Shielded Cargo Holds from Lon Anderssen, a reputable ship vendor at the Red Mile on Porrima III. Alternatively, you might be able to acquire them (through trade or other means) from Crimson Fleet ships. Just be aware that the Crimson Fleet is a pirate faction, so dealing with them might not be ideal for all characters.

Scan Jammer

This device disrupts sensor signals, temporarily preventing your ship from being scanned. Think of it like a signal jammer for authorities' scanners. However, Scan Jammers only offer temporary protection and have a limited range. They're best used strategically, like when approaching a system you know scans incoming ships.

Where to Buy

Scan Jammers can be purchased from ship service vendors who deal in black market goods. Locations like The Den space station might have them for sale.

Deception Skill

Investing in your character's Deception skill can improve your ability to talk your way out of trouble with authorities. A high Deception skill might allow you to bluff your way past a scan or convince them you're not carrying anything illegal.

Using the Toolkit Effectively, 

These methods work best when combined. The Shielded Cargo Hold, provides the base layer of protection by making detection less likely. While the Scan Jammer offers an extra layer of security by temporarily blocking scans altogether. Use it strategically when approaching risky systems. Lastly, Deception Skill serves as a last resort if you're caught. A high Deception skill might help you talk your way out of trouble.

Note that these methods aren't foolproof. Authorities might have ways to bypass them, and getting caught still carries significant risks. Choose your approach wisely.

Finding Contraband

Obtaining Contraband can be just as thrilling (and risky) as selling it. Here are some ways to fill your inventory with these illegal goods:

Neon on Volii Alpha

This settlement caters to a specific clientele. Its Euphoria Vendor openly sells Aurora, a recreational drug considered Contraband.


Prisons can be a risky but potentially rewarding hunting ground for Contraband. You might find hidden stashes or loot Contraband from inmates or guards. Look for items like:

  • Va'Ruun Heretic Writings: These religious texts are banned by the dominant religion in the Starfield universe. While their value might be more sentimental than financial for some, they're still classified as Contraband.


Some quests might reward you with Contraband, either intentionally or unintentionally.

Shady Vendors

Look for vendors in less reputable areas who might be willing to sell or buy illegal goods.

  • Black Markets- Look for hidden or well-guarded areas within settlements known for less-than-legal activities. These black markets might have vendors willing to sell you illegal goods. 
  • Back Alley Deals: In some settlements, especially those on the fringes of civilization, you might encounter shady vendors operating out of back alleys or hidden corners. These vendors, reminiscent of "fencers" who buy stolen goods in real-world black markets, could be your source for contraband.

Hidden Caches

Explore abandoned settlements, ruins, or enemy strongholds. These locations might contain hidden caches of Contraband.

  • Abandoned Settlements- Ruined cities or deserted towns might hold hidden caches left behind by previous inhabitants. Explore these locations, keeping an eye out for secret compartments, locked rooms, or buried containers.
  • Ancient Ruins- Unearthing secrets from the past can be lucrative. Explore ancient ruins and forgotten structures for hidden chambers that might contain contraband stashed away centuries ago.
  • Enemy Strongholds- Defeating outlaws and pirates doesn't just bring glory; it might also yield some illegal goods. Search their strongholds for hidden stashes or loot containers that could contain contraband they've acquired through their illicit activities.

Enemy Loot

Some enemies in Starfield, particularly those involved in criminal activities, might carry contraband themselves:

  • Pirates- These spacefaring outlaws likely have a stash of illegal goods on board their ships. Defeating them could net you not only victory but also some valuable contraband they were transporting.
  • Outlaw Mercenaries- Mercenaries who operate outside the law might be carrying illegal weapons or stolen goods. Defeating them could leave behind valuable contraband you can claim for yourself.

Finding contraband in Starfield involves a bit of risk and exploration. Be prepared to venture into less reputable areas, fight dangerous enemies, and stay vigilant to avoid getting caught with illegal goods. The rewards, however, can be substantial for a daring smuggler!

The Risks and Alternatives of Contraband

Selling illegal goods can be lucrative in Starfield, but beware of the high stakes.

Getting Caught = Big Trouble

  • Fines- Depending on the severity of the offense and the value of the Contraband, authorities could impose hefty fines.
  • Jail Time- Repeat offenders or those caught with serious contraband risk spending time behind bars.
  • Confiscation- Authorities will likely seize any Contraband they find in your possession.

Alternatives to Selling

Not everyone wants to risk the consequences of selling Contraband. Here are some alternative ways to dispose of it:

  • Dropping Contraband- If the risk of getting caught outweighs the potential reward, you can simply jettison the Contraband from your ship. However, be aware that this could pollute the environment or fall into the wrong hands.
  • Destroying Contraband- For particularly sensitive items (like Harvested Organs), you might choose to destroy them altogether. This eliminates the risk of them falling into the wrong hands but also removes any potential profit. 
  • Using Contraband Yourself- Depending on the type of Contraband (like Aurora, the recreational drug), you could choose to consume or utilize it yourself. Of course, this has its own set of risks and consequences. The Choice is Yours.

Alex Cabal from Game Champions

About the author

Alex Cabal

I'm a gambler who loves betting on just about everything, from soccer, esports, roulette, tennis and even slap contests. If you can bet on it, you can be sure that I've taken a chance on it.

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