How to sell Contraband in Starfield and smuggle illegal items

How to sell Contraband in Starfield and smuggle illegal items

Starfield Almagest contraband stash

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Smuggling in Starfield involves sneaking stolen, illicit goods past cargo scans, but where do you sell contraband for the best price? Contraband items are typically worth quite a lot too, but taking them back to New Atlantis or somewhere similar will result in the local authorities chasing you down for your crimes.

However, some specialist ship modules, like shielded cargo, can hide contraband and increase your chances of passing a scan check. If you’re willing to side with the right (or wrong) people in Starfield, there are also vendors you can reach without going near the law to turn a profit on your contraband. I’ve been testing smuggling for a while, so let me explain how contraband and smuggling in Starfield works below, and how to make credits from it.

Where to find Contraband in Starfield

Where to find Contraband in Starfield

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield contraband is most easily found in enemy bases and ships, whether it’s the Crimson Fleet, Spacers, Ecliptics or so on. Just look for the yellow arrow marker in the corner when you’re checking items. They can also come in big, black contraband caches too. Because of this, the easiest way to obtain contraband is start the Starfield Freestar Rangers questline and use their mission board to hunt pirate ships. As long as you learn how to dock in Starfield and board ships, you can then fight your way onto you targets and steal whatever loot they have. Nobody experiences vice like a vice cop, after all.

Where to sell contraband in Starfield?

What do you do with contraband in Starfield?

(Image credit: Bethesda)

If you’ve found contraband in Starfield, or stolen goods, you need to find a vendor who will buy it off you, and this isn’t always easy. The best option if you’re on the Starfield Crimson Fleet questline is to head to the pirate base, The Key, in Kryx and sell it to any of the merchants there – there’s no law to catch you while you’re doing that. 

If you want to try and sell it somewhere else – any Trade Authority will buy it – but you’ll need to sneak it past the law in orbit around the planet, which means you’ll have to kit out your ship to smuggle it planet side..

How to smuggle in Starfield

How to smuggle in Starfield

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Smuggling in Starfield is a system that requires a very specific sort of ship module, and some understanding about how it works.

If you want to smuggle contraband in Starfield, here’s how to do it:

  1. Equip your ship in the Starfield ship customization with a “Shielded Cargo Hold”.
  2. Obtain the contraband and place it inside your cargo hold using the terminal from the cockpit.
  3. Plot a course and fly into the orbit of the planet you want to smuggle it to (for a flight refresher, check our guide on how to fly and grav jump in Starfield.
  4. As you enter it, the law enforcement ships from the local Starfield factions will scan your ship.
  5. There will then be a percentage chance of how likely your contraband is to go undetected (determined by factors we’ll explain below).
  6. If successful, you’ll be waved through and permitted to land on the planet as usual.

If the scan fails then you can either pay a fine and give up the contraband, get dragged to jail, or try and blast their way through, none of which is ideal. Frankly, we found the best move was simply to quicksave before step 3 and reload if we got caught.

How to improve your smuggling chances

Starfield Making smuggling easier

(Image credit: Bethesda)

The odds of smuggling successfully in Starfield are determined these factors:

  • Shielded cargo space versus contraband. The more space you have for “Shielded Cargo” (determined by the size of the hold and how many of them you have installed), the better, and the less contraband you have, the less likely you are to be caught. 
  • Scan Jammers. Scan Jammers are modules for your ship that simply increase your chance of smuggling successfully when they’re installed, though they only improve the odds of success and can’t be used as a substitute for a Shielded Cargo Hold. The more, and better, Scan Jammers you have, the more likely you are to succeed.

So for example, if you have a Shielded Cargo Hold that can hold 200KG of cargo and fill it with 200KG of contraband, you’re pretty likely to get caught. However, if you only have 10KG of contraband in there it’s much less likely to be detected. Scan Jammers basically add a little bonus chance to success on top of that. 

Where to get Starfield shielded cargo holds or scan jammers

Where to get Starfield shielded cargo holds or scan jammers

(Image credit: Bethesda)

There are two ways to get a shielded cargo hold and scan jammers in Starfield:

  • Steal a ship with them already installed. If you know how to steal ships in Starfield, try stealing a pirate ship from the Crimson Fleet – they usually have at least a basic Shielded Cargo Hold installed.
  • Buy them from Pirates. Vendors at The Key, the pirates base, sell Shielded Cargo Holds. No legitimate and legal seller will distribute these things, so the more regulated Starfield cities aren’t likely to be much help.

How to make money smuggling contraband in Starfield

How to make money smuggling in Starfield

(Image credit: Bethesda)

The best way to make money smuggling in Starfield is through the Crimson Fleet Pirates – they have a mission board on The Key where you can take on various smuggling missions. You can also sell any contraband you find out in the universe here too, without risking any pesky scans.

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Joel Franey is a writer, journalist, podcaster and raconteur with a Masters from Sussex University, none of which has actually equipped him for anything in real life. As a result he chooses to spend most of his time playing video games, reading old books and ingesting chemically-risky levels of caffeine. He is a firm believer that the vast majority of games would be improved by adding a grappling hook, and if they already have one, they should probably add another just to be safe. You can find old work of his at USgamer, Gfinity, Eurogamer and more besides.

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