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Starfield contraband explained: Where to sell contraband and how to avoid detection

Here's the easiest and best place to sell contraband in Starfield early on

A ship in Starfield flies towards a space station. Lots of yellow contraband icons surround the ship.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Bethesda Game Studios

Where can you sell Starfield contraband? In Starfield, contraband means anything illegal to possess or trade in a given location. If you have contraband, it typically means you've gotten your hands on some outlawed items or substances. The game marks your Starfield contraband with a yellow marker in your inventory so you can track anything you might need to sell on the black market.

Owning contraband can get you in lots of trouble very quickly, so below we reveal the best place to sell contraband in Starfield early on. We'll also go over how to hide contraband and avoid detection using Shielded Cargo Holds, skill upgrades, and more.

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Starfield contraband explained

If you notice an item in your inventory with a yellow symbol next to it, then it is contraband. Contraband in Starfield is a step above stolen items. Stealing items is illegal, yes - but contraband is illegal no matter how you got your hands on it. And it's usually worth a lot more as a result.

The player's inventory in Starfield, showing a box of Harvested Organs. A yellow icon denoting that the item is contraband is highlighted and enlarged.
Anytime you see a yellow icon like this one, you're carrying contraband. | Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Bethesda Game Studios

Smuggling Starfield contraband can net you a lot of extra credits, but you will face serious consequences if caught selling or harboring any prohibited items. When entering patrolled, faction-controlled areas such as cities or space stations, you will subject your ship to a contraband scan.

While you can resist this scan, it's not advisable as it can lead to severe consequences. Once you allow the authorities on your ship, they will take anything considered contraband and any stolen loot as well.

Where to sell contraband in Starfield

The best place to sell contraband is The Den, a space station located in the Wolf System, because you won't be scanned on arrival. You can sell contraband in Starfield at any Trade Authority shop or kiosk, but going to the Den means you won't be scanned and discovered smuggling, making it by far the easiest and safest option for selling contraband.

The Starmap in Starfield, with the location of the Wolf System highlighted.
The Wolf System is the best place to sell contraband in Starfield. | Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Bethesda Game Studios

Any star system controlled by the United Colonies or Freestar Collective will scan you ship for contraband on arrival. While there are ways to protect yourself against scanning, there's always a chance you'll be discovered smuggling. That's why The Den space station in the Wolf System is the best choice for selling contraband - the Wolf System doesn't require a scan to enter.

The Wolf System in Starfield, with the location of The Den highlighted.
Dock with The Den space station and sell your contraband at the Trade Authority there. | Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Bethesda Game Studios

The moment you get any contraband you should head straight there and sell the illicit items in question, because if you go to any other star system in the interim, you run the risk of being detected carrying contraband.

Once you're in the Wolf System, head to The Den in the star system map, dock with the space station, and then speak to the trader in the Trade Authority room behind the wall on the left as you enter the station. Here you can sell your contraband items until you run out of stock, or the trader runs out of credits to give you.

Other places to sell contraband in Starfield include:

  • The Den, Wolf System
  • The Key, Kryx System
  • Neon, Volii Alpha (WILL BE SCANNED)
  • New Atlantis, Jemison (WILL BE SCANNED)
  • Cydonia, Mars (WILL BE SCANNED)
  • Akila City, Akila (WILL BE SCANNED)

Pro Tip: if the trader you're selling contraband to runs out of credits, use the pass time mechanic to wait 48 hours and their credits will be replenished, allowing you to sell more contraband to them!

The player in Starfield arrives near Chthonia in the Wolf System in their ship cockpit.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Bethesda Game Studios

Starfield contraband items

Contraband items in Starfield show up in your inventory or cargo hold with a yellow icon next to them, denoting that they are illegal contraband. Below is a list of all known contraband items in Starfield and their value on the black market:

Contraband Item Value Mass Value/Mass
Aurora 760 0.1 7600
Harvested Organs 13500 3 4500
Mech Components 12290 3.8 3234
Sentient AI Adapters 14840 2.5 5936
Stolen Artwork 15600 3 5200
Va'Ruun Heretic Writings 8190 2 4095
Xenowarfare Tech 16110 2.5 6444
Starfield image showing the outside of the Dream Home at night.
If you own a house, you can store your contraband safely there. | Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Bethesda Game Studios

How to hide contraband in Starfield

If you need a place to store contraband temporarily, a perfect place to hide it is an outpost that you own in a star system which isn't owned by a major faction (and therefore doesn't scan you on arrival). You can also hide contraband in your house, and if you have the Starfield Dream Home trait, you can store your Starfield contraband there as the location is not subject to scanning.

But in a pinch, you can store contraband more or less anywhere there is a container to house it. Items in Starfield persist in storage. I once left a bunch of organs in a random cooler in a Spacer moon base, and returned later to collect it once I was ready to sell.

How to smuggle contraband in Starfield

Here are the best ways to hide and smuggle contraband in Starfield:

  • Never have contraband on your person
  • Improve your Deception skill
  • Get a Shielded Cargo Hold
  • Use a Scan Jammer

Keep in mind that no matter what ship upgrades and skills you have, there is always a chance of failing a cargo scan if you have contraband on your ship. And the more contraband you have, the more likely authorities will catch you with these items, which is true no matter how many precautions you take. But these are the ways that you can increase your chances of avoiding detection while smuggling contraband in Starfield.

Never have contraband on your person

If you have any pieces of contraband on your person - as in, inside your actual character's inventory - then you have a 100% chance of being caught smuggling when scanned by a faction ship. So if you're carrying contraband and need to grav jump to a faction-owned star system, first you should transfer all your contraband items to your cargo hold.

Improve your Deception skill

To avoid getting caught with Starfield contraband, you can take the Deception skill, which you can select in the second tier of the game's social skill tree. This skill makes you far less susceptible to getting flagged during contraband scans. At rank one, you'll decrease your risk of getting caught by 10%, and at rank four, you'll reduce it by 50%.

Get a Shielded Cargo Hold

Starfield's shielded cargo hold upgrade makes it more difficult for scans to detect contraband. For the effect to work, you must remember to store your contraband items in your cargo hold instead of your inventory.

If you want to buy a shielded cargo hold, you can visit Lon Anderssen, an NPC located on the Red Mile on Porrima III. You can also purchase these items from Jasmine Durand, the Ship Services Technician on The Key, which you can access during the Deep Cover mission.

To get a shielded cargo hold, simply talk to the ship technician and peruse their upgrades. At this point, you can upgade your ship just as you would with a faction ship technician. You'll find several different cargo holds, and they vary in effectiveness. As you might guess, the higher-quality upgrades are more effective, but they're also much more expensive, so gather a good number of credits beforehand if you plan to purchase these items. Alternatively, you can also choose to purchase an entirely new ship that has shielded cargo space.

Another option to gain shielded cargo space is to hijack a ship with a shielded cargo hold. You can can check if a ship has a shielded cargo hold by looking beneath the ship's total cargo capacity gauge. You can also get ships as mission rewards, and completing the Mantis side-quest grants the Razorleaf with a shielded capacity of 160.

Typically, the more shielded cargo space you have, the less likely you are to get caught with any given amount of contraband. However, if you fill your shielded cargo space to maximum capacity with Starfield contraband, you are still likely to get caught.

Use a Scan Jammer

Some of the ship services merchants that deal in black market goods also sell scan jammers, which block the scan signals and make it easier to hide your contraband. These items will decrease your potential to get caught with contraband during a scan by a set percentage. Scan jammers will not work without shielded cargo holds.

Both Lon Anderson and Jasmine Durand sell scan jammers as ship upgrades, so check out their options while you're upgrading your cargo hold. Like the shielded cargo holds, scan jammers have varying degrees of effectiveness, and the most effective ones are also the most expensive.

What happens if you get caught with contraband?

If you are caught with Starfield contraband and are facing an arrest, you can pay the fine, serve your jail sentence, attempt to escape, or try to bribe the authorities. Each option has pros and cons. In each case, you will lose all Starfield contraband in your inventory and your ship storage.

Pay the fine

If you choose to pay the fine, you will lose the requested credits. However, your record will be clear, and you are free to go.

Serve your jail sentence

If you accept your jail sentence, you will have to stay imprisoned for the requisite amount of time and will lose XP.

Attempt to escape

You can always attempt to escape from prison. However, even if you do so successfully, there will still be a bounty on you, which you will have to face eventually by paying off or serving more jail time.

Offer a bribe

If you have chosen the Starfield Negotiation skill, one of the game's tier 2 social skill tree options, you will gain the potential to bribe authorities. As you level this up, bribes will cost less money; at rank four, they will sometimes cost no money. However, bribery doesn't guarantee success, so be prepared to suffer the consequences if you aren't successful in your dealings with authorities.

How to take back contraband

If you are caught smuggling contraband, all your contraband will be taken from you - but you can get it back! Head to the security office of the faction that took the contraband items from you (for United Colonies the headquarters are in New Atlantis, directly in front of the landing pad stairs).

Inside, you'll find a container laballed "Stolen Items Locker". If you pick the Expert-level lock on this container with your Starfield lockpicking skills, you'll be able to take back all of the contraband that was confiscated from you.

That's everything you need to know about selling Starfield contraband. If you're just jumping into Bethesda's all-new space adventure, be sure to also check out our guides to the best skills on the Starfield skill tree, Starfield character creation, and all Starfield traits and how they work. We've also got guides for the Starfield romance options and Starfield cheats.

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