How to smuggle & sell contraband in Starfield

How to smuggle & sell contraband in Starfield
Images via Bethesda

Written by 

Tarran Stockton


2nd Sep 2023 10:51


Learning how to successfully smuggle and sell Contraband in Starfield is a great way to make lots of money, as living the pirate's life can often be lucrative - even in the vast expanse of space. 

Like previous Bethesda RPGs, Starfield lets you live a life of scum and villainy, with the introduction of contraband items being one of the biggest ways to role-play as a space criminal. You may have come across some contraband items in the game, or heard about their existence prior to release.

Regardless, here's an explainer of how to smuggle and sell contraband in Starfield, so you can make some good money. 

Starfield contraband explained

a contraband item in Starfield
Click to enlarge

Starfield contraband are special items designated by a yellow icon below their name in your inventory. These can be things like drugs, harvested human organs, or even certain books depending on what system you are currently operating in. 

If you are caught with contraband items when heading towards planets under the control of the United Colonies, such as Jemison, you will have the items taken off you, and you will need to pay a fine or go to jail.

the warning you get when you first pick up contraband in Starfield
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It's worth noting that Starfield contraband items aren't the same as stolen items, so don't worry about having to smuggle stolen goods past the sensors when entering a planet.

  • Want to live the criminal life in other ways? Check out how Starfield Lockpicking works and crack every lock you come across

How to smuggle contraband in Starfield

a Shielded Cargo Hold, which lets you smuggle contraband in Starfield
Click to enlarge

Smuggling contraband in Starfield requires you to have specially designed ship parts that allow the items to get past the sensors when you are being scanned. There are two main parts for this: Shielded Cargo Holds and Scan Jammers.

These parts won't automatically make you pass checks and there is still an element of randomness, meaning you can be caught and forced to turn over your items anyway. There are some simple rules you can follow to make it easier when smuggling though.

Say you have a Shielded Cargo Hold with 100kg of space, you will want to avoid storing more than 50kg of contraband items, as the more full the hold is, the bigger chance of the items being detected. Again, this doesn't guarantee you'll successfully smuggle the contraband though, so there is always some luck involved. 

How to get a Shielded Cargo Hold and Scan Jammer

Getting the Shielded Cargo Hold and Scan Jammer to help you smuggle in contraband in Starfield requires you to visit black market ship vendors.

These parts aren't sold by any old ship vendors, and you will instead need to access the Crimson Fleet faction and their special vendors

a SysDef character in Starfield who asks you to join Crimson Fleet undercover
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There are a couple of ways to join Crimson Fleet in the game:

  • Break the law on a United Colonies planet or get caught smuggling contraband
  • Speak to a United Colonies SysDef character

Both of these will allow you to begin a quest called Deep Cover, where you infiltrate the Crimson Fleet, allowing you to join them and gain access to their vendors and more. 

How to sell contraband in Starfield

an image showing how to sell contraband in Starfield
Click to enlarge

Once you've learned how to smuggle successfully, selling contraband in Starfield just requires you to go black market vendors. The best of these is the Trade Authority, an organisation with vendors all across the game's major planets and settlements. 

You can find one vendor early in The Well underneath New Atlantis, and they'll take any contraband items you have no questions asked. You can also come across Trade Authority ships in space, allowing you to board them and sell items that way. 

That's all for coverage of how to smuggle and sell contraband in Starfield, and now you have a good idea of what it takes to begin your criminal enterprise. 

For more Starfield guides, stick with GGRecon. Alternatively, check out how to change FOV in Starfield on PC and Xbox.

Tarran is a Senior Guides Writer at GGRecon. He previously wrote reviews for his college newspaper before studying Media and Communication at university. His favourite genres include role-playing games, strategy games, and boomer shooters - along with anything indie. You can also find him in the pit at local hardcore shows.

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