Starfield Contraband: How it Works and Where to Sell Contraband

Anastasios Antoniadis

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Starfield Contraband How it Works and Where to Sell Contraband

In Starfield, contraband refers to items or substances that are illegal to possess or trade within certain areas of the game. These illicit goods are easily identifiable in your inventory by a distinctive yellow marker, signaling items best offloaded on the black market.

Carrying contraband in Starfield can lead to precarious situations, making it crucial to know the optimal locations for selling these items, especially in the game’s early stages. This guide will detail the most effective venues for offloading contraband safely and discreetly. Additionally, we will provide insights on minimizing the risks associated with carrying contraband, including using Shielded Cargo Holds, Scan Jammers, strategic skill enhancements, and other techniques to evade detection.

What is Contraband in Starfield

Aurora Starfield Contraband
Image: Bethesda via Meta Game Guides

In “Starfield,” any item in your inventory marked with a yellow symbol is classified as contraband. Contraband represents a category more severe than merely stolen items. While stealing is illegal, possessing contraband is forbidden regardless of the acquisition method. Typically, contraband items are more valuable due to their illicit nature.

For example, the player’s inventory might display an item like “Aurora,” accompanied by a prominent yellow icon, indicating its status as contraband. This symbol is a clear indicator of carrying prohibited goods.

Engaging in contraband smuggling within Starfield can be lucrative, offering the chance to earn substantial credits. However, this comes with significant risks, particularly when selling or possessing these items. Areas controlled by the United Colonies and The Freestar Collective, including cities and space stations, often conduct contraband scans on ships.

All Contraband Items in Starfield

There are seven Contraband items in Starfield, and the only one you can legitimately buy is Aurora in Neon.

Contraband ItemValueMassV/M
Harvested Organs1350034500
Mech Components122903.83234
Sentient AI Adapters148402.55936
Stolen Artwork1560035200
Va’Ruun Heretic Writings819024095
Xenowarfare Tech161102.56444

Should You Avoid Getting Captured and Paying the Bounty after a Contraband Scan?

While resisting Contraband Scans is an option, it is generally ill-advised due to the potential for severe repercussions and an even larger bounty, which will keep you away from key places in the game. Compliance with these scans can result in the confiscation of all contraband and stolen items from your ship.

Where to Sell Contraband in Starfield

Trade Authority The Den
Image: Bethesda via Meta Game Guides

Trade Authority stores and the vendors at The Key (Crimson Fleet territory) are the only vendors that deal with Contraband. Even the Astral Lounge in Neon (Core), which is allowed to sell Aurora, won’t buy it from you. The same goes for Euphorika, a place that smuggles Aurora in Neon, yet they won’t buy it from you.

The optimal location for selling contraband in “Starfield” is The Den, a space station situated in the Wolf System. This destination stands out as a smuggler’s paradise, as you are not subject to Contraband Scans by security, reducing the risk of being caught smuggling to zero. Although contraband can be sold at any Trade Authority shop or kiosk within the game, The Den offers the safest and most convenient option unless you can access The Key.

Wolf System Starfield
Image: Bethesda via Meta Game Guides

In the game’s Starmap, the Wolf System (Recommended Level: 5) is prominently marked as a prime location for offloading contraband. This system is particularly advantageous because, unlike territories controlled by the United Colonies or Freestar Collective, it does not mandate a contraband scan upon entry. While there are methods to shield against scans, the risk of detection remains elsewhere.

When you acquire contraband, it is advisable to head directly to The Den in the Wolf System. Any detour to other star systems increases the risk of contraband detection.

The Den Wolf System
Image: Bethesda via Meta Game Guides

Upon reaching the Wolf System, locate The Den on the star system map at the bottom right corner, in Chthonia’s orbit. Dock at this space station and find the Trade Authority, located just beyond the left wall as you enter the station. Here, you can discreetly sell your contraband items until either your inventory is depleted or the trader exhausts their available credits.

All Places Where You Can Sell Contraband

These are the places you can sell Contraband in Starfield:

  • Trade Authority, The Den, Chthonia’s Orbit, Wolf System (No Security Scans)
  • All Vendors, The Key, Suvorov’s Orbit, Kryx System (No Security Scans)
  • Trade Authority, Cydonia, Mars, Sol System (Must pass Security Scans)
  • Trade Authority, Neon (Core), Volii Alpha, Volii System (Must pass Security Scans)
  • Trade Authority, Akila City, Akila, Cheyenne (Must pass Security Scans)
  • Trade Authority, The Well, New Atlantis, Alpha Centauri (Must pass Security Scans)

Note: You cannot sell Contraband at Trade Authority Kiosks.

How to Smuggle Contraband (Requirements, Recommendations, Extra Options)

How to Smuggle Contraband
Image: Bethesda via Meta Game Guides

Smuggling contraband requires you to install at least one Shielded Cargo Hold into your ship. It also requires you to move the contraband to your Cargo Hold (you can’t move it to the Shielded Cargo Hold directly). Scan Jammers can dramatically increase your chance to evade Security Scans, while the Deception skill adds very little to the table once you have a Scan Jammer installed.

  1. Keep Contraband Off Your Character Inventory (Mandatory): Always transfer contraband from your character’s inventory to your ship’s cargo hold before traveling to faction-controlled star systems. Carrying contraband on your person guarantees detection during scans.
  2. Invest in a Shielded Cargo Hold (Mandatory): Shielded Cargo Holds are harder to scan and detect contraband. Notable vendors for these upgrades include Lon Anderssen on Porrima III’s Red Mile and Jasmine Durand at The Key’s Ship Services. Alternatively, acquiring a new ship with pre-installed shielded cargo space or hijacking one is also an option. The Mantis side-quest, for example, rewards you with the Razorleaf, which boasts a shielded capacity of 160. As long as your contraband mass stays below the Shielded Cargo Hold(s) capacity, you will have a 59% chance to evade scans.
  3. Use a Scan Jammer (Recommended): Scan Jammers, sold by black market merchants like Lon Anderssen and Jasmine Durand, complement shielded cargo holds by blocking scan signals, further reducing the likelihood of contraband detection. Their effectiveness varies, and the most efficient jammers are more expensive, but the Multi-Frequency Scan Jammer increases the chance of avoiding detection by 50%, raising the aforementioned 59% to 89%.
  4. Rank Up Your Deception Skill (Optional): This skill, found in the second tier of the game’s Social skill tree, reduces your chances of being flagged during scans. With each rank increase, your risk of detection decreases, reaching up to a 50% reduction at rank four. However, this increases the aforementioned 89% chance to just 90%, so it’s not really worth investing in Deception.

Here are the Deception skill effects and Rank Challenges:

RankRank ChallengeEffect
1Convince 5 ships to surrender.Ships 10% stronger will automatically surrender to piracy demands. Enemy contraband scans are 10% less effective.
2Convince 10 ships to surrender.Ships 20% stronger will automatically surrender to piracy demands. Enemy contraband scans are 20% less effective.
3Convince 20 ships to surrender.Ships 30% stronger will automatically surrender to piracy demands. Enemy contraband scans are 30% less effective.
4N/AShips 50% stronger will automatically surrender to piracy demands. Enemy contraband scans are 50% less effective.

Despite these precautions, remember that the more contraband you carry, the greater the risk of detection. Even with advanced upgrades, overloading your shielded space significantly increases the chances of getting caught.

Consequences of Getting Caught with Contraband

Here are your options if you get caught with contraband:

  • Pay the Fine: Clear your record at the expense of credits.
  • Serve a Jail Sentence: Lose XP while serving time.
  • Attempt to Escape: Successful escapes leave a bounty, leading to future consequences, as you will have to shoot down the UC or FC ships in the vicinity to escape.
  • Offer a Bribe: If you have the Negotiation skill, bribing is an option, though it’s not always successful.

How to Reclaim Confiscated Contraband

If caught, your contraband will be seized. However, you can reclaim it by visiting the security office of the faction that confiscated the items. For example, in New Atlantis of the United Colonies, look for a “Stolen Items Locker.” With sufficient lockpicking skills, you can retrieve your seized contraband.

Anastasios Antoniadis
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