Like any good Bethesda RPG, there are a lot of items that aren't nailed to the ground ripe for the taking. However, some of these can land you in serious trouble and to help navigate these perils, we have all you need to know about Starfield contraband with how to sell, hide and smuggle your dodgy goods.


Contraband is found everywhere in the Settled Systems, even where resident goody-two-shoes the United Colonies and Freestar Collective call home.

Because an element of risk is involved in shipping it to and fro, it can pay very handsomely.

The main risk comes from UC and Freestar ships scanning your ship's cargo hold. Fortunately, there are ways to get around this which we'll cover in detail below and more, such as what happens when you do get caught.

Read on, intrepid ne'er do well!

What is contraband in Starfield?

A Starfield contraband scan taking place
Starfield contraband scan. Bethesda

Contraband in Starfield is a catch-all term for a selection of illegal items: items you will be scanned for when you enter a planet or system that contains an area or settlement controlled by either the Freestar Collective or the United Colonies.

Starfield contraband items include banned Aurora drugs from the planet Neon, harvested organs, stolen files, AI components, mech components, xenowarfare tech and heretical scripture.

You’ll find contraband in bases and abandoned research facilities with a yellow checkmark/tag icon next to its name.

More illegal than stolen goods, contraband will sell for a high price – so it's worth picking up, if you can sell it before you’re caught. To do this, it will need to be hidden correctly so that the local authorities don't throw you in jail.

How to hide and smuggle contraband in Starfield

A Starfield information message around stealth
Starfield. Bethesda

To hide contraband in Starfield, you need to equip your ship with a shielded cargo hold or a scan jammer, both of which will go a long way to avoid being caught red-handed.

To unlock the shielded cargo hold, you can commandeer a ship that has one already, or build one for your own ship.

The simplest way to get a shielded cargo hold is to join up with the Crimson Raiders faction. Head to The Key in the Kryx System after joining up with the Crimson Raiders faction to unlock the shielded cargo hold. Then get your contraband into your shielded cargo hold as soon as you can if you plan on going planet-hopping.

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The scan jammer, meanwhile, can be unlocked by levelling up your Starship Design skill.

Increasing your Smuggling skill will reduce the chances of being caught carrying contraband, too.

It’s worth noting that you can pick up contraband on a planet and then travel to a different part of the same planet without being caught in possession. Scans only take place when entering a different planet/system.

Another tip to help hide contraband is to store it in your outpost while you’re working on adding a shielded cargo hold to your ship. Once you have a storage crate in your outpost, you can store whatever you like there without it being taken from you.

Read more on Starfield:

Where to sell contraband in Starfield

A character standing outside the Trade Authority in Starfield
Trade Authority in Starfield. Bethesda

The Trade Authority shop on Neon is a known location that will take contraband. You’ll need to level up your Commerce skill before you can receive close to what each piece of contraband is worth, however.

That said, there are other Trade Authority shops that purchase contraband scattered throughout the galaxy.

The Den space station in the Wolf System, for example, is definitely one of the best choices early on, as no scanning takes place upon arrival. The Trade Authority vendor is handily located close to the docking bay, too.

Alternatively, there is a chance to come across Trade Authority Merchant ships orbiting a planet, so you can sell before you get scanned!

Planets and systems without the Freestar Collective or United Colonies involved are safe havens for the more criminally-minded adventurers. The Den in The Wolf System is a decent location to sell your contraband, for example.

What happens if you're caught with contraband in Starfield?

If you’re caught with enough contraband on board your ship, you will be immediately arrested. Follow our advice above to minimise those chances! Or perhaps, don't...

If you get arrested, a new quest becomes available to you that involves you infiltrating the ranks of the Crimson Fleet on behalf of the UC Vanguard.

If you have a small amount of naughty contraband on your person or ship, you will be given the option of either paying a fine or having the goods confiscated.

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