In Starfield, you may have some illegal contraband on your ship. Once you reach a patrolled area, like New Atlantis or Neon, your ship will get scanned by local authorities before you land. If you’re caught, you’ll get arrested — so learning how to smuggle contraband, and knowing where to sell contraband, is key.
Contraband items are labeled with a small yellow marker in your inventory, the same way stolen items are labeled with a red marker. Not every planet has patrolled areas, so you can take your contraband freely with you to most places. Or, if you have a house on Nesoi from the Dream Home trait, you can always drop off your drugs there before heading to one of the more guarded planets. (That’s what we do!) But it’s also possible to sneak things in.
Where to sell contraband in Starfield
While the thrill of doing a crime might be a reward in and of itself, the real prize for smuggling contraband in Starfield is the credits you get from selling it.
Not many places will deal in smuggled goods, though. You can sell contraband at Trade Authority kiosks as they thankfully don’t have such hangups, and will happily take it off your hands — and, better yet, they usually have more money on hand than most other vendors.
The Den, a space station in the Wolf system, is absolutely the best spot to sell your stolen goods early on in Starfield. Not only does it have both a Trade Authority store and a kiosk less than a 15-second walk from your ship, but the people who run the station won’t scan your ship for contraband at all when you dock. This means that you can easily jump into The Den, offload thousands of credits worth of illegal goods, and hop back on your ship — all without ever alerting the authorities.
However, as long as you manage to get your stuff past customs (more on that below), you’ll find a yellow Trade Authority kiosk at almost every settlement with a spaceport. Full Trade Authority storefronts are a little rarer, but you’ll find one in Cydonia on Mars in the Sol system and a big flashy one in Neon on Volii II in the Volii system.
How to smuggle contraband through patrolled areas
If you love smuggling goods, you can take the Deception skill, which is in the second tier of the social skill tree. It’ll make your ship less susceptible to contraband scans, decreasing your risk of being caught by 10% at rank one and up to 50% at rank four.
You can also upgrade your ship to bypass scanners, but you’ll have to store your contraband in your cargo hold, not your inventory for this to work. Cargo holds like the “100CM Ballast Shielded Cargo Hold” give you 160 mass of shielded cargo space. You can also buy a scan jammer, which increases your chance of evading cargo ship scans by a set percentage.
The more contraband you have, the higher chance you’ll have of getting caught, even with the shielded cargo, so beware of trying to take too much into one of these guarded areas.
Where to buy ship upgrades for smuggling
Note that not many spaceports will sell this stuff, but we did find a guy who will: Lon Anderssen in the Red Mile on Porrima III (in the Porrima system, east of Alpha Centauri).
With no perks, the “Scan Jammer - Single-Frequency” cost us 2,940 credits and adding a “Caravel V101 Shielded Cargo Hold” cost 2,548 credits. This price does not include the cost of upgrading engines and the like to account for the added weight. These two upgrades let us smuggle in one can of Aurora to Neon at a 65% chance to pass.
What happens if you get caught with contraband?
The ships scanning you will stop you and ask to board. You can always deny them and fight to the death, but similarly to fighting officers after being caught stealing, it’s not really worth it.
If you let them board, however, not only will they confiscate your contraband, but they will also take any stolen loot (marked with the red emblem) from you.
You can pay the fine and get your contraband taken from you, or you can serve jail time and lose XP. One canister of Aurora got us put in the slammer for seven days and we lost 1,000 XP for it, similar to what happens when you’re caught with a bounty.