We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Where to sell contraband in Starfield

Find out where to sell contraband in Starfield and how to smuggle so you can live like a pirate using the complex Starfield contraband system.

Where do you sell contraband in Starfield? Smuggling and selling contraband is a great way to get money early on if you know how, but the Starfield contraband system is not easy to get to grips with. Given the potential to be arrested if you get caught with contraband, it’s good to understand how and where to sell contraband in Starfield, as well as how to smuggle Starfield contraband like a true pirate.

The good thing is that you don’t need to be a member of the Starfield Crimson Fleet to succeed in acts of piracy, though it is more fitting to be a part of this nefarious group, one of the Starfield factions. We’ve got up to plenty of piracy and selling contraband in our time with the game for our Starfield review.

Where to sell contraband in Starfield

You can sell Starfield contraband at a Trade Authority shop in the following locations:

  • The Key space station, Kryx
  • The Den space station, Wolf
  • Akila City on Akila, Cheyenne
  • Cydonia on Mars, Sol
  • Neon on Volii Alpha, Volii
  • New Atlantis on Jemison, Alpha Centauri

As you can see, there are several places where you can sell contraband in Starfield, though The Key and The Den are the best places to sell contraband, as we’ll explain.

To sell contraband in Starfield, you must visit a Trade Authority vendor, located in the landing areas of major settlements and other key locations around the universe, such as The Key space station, Kryx, and The Den space station, Wolf. Once at a Trade Authority, speak to the vendor and enter the shop. Here, select to sell, and then again to sell from your ship’s cargo. You can then locate the contraband in your ship inventory and sell it directly to the Trade Authority merchant.

As a side note, this is also one great location to get Starfield ship parts, so check that out while you’re here.


It should be noted that only proper Trade Authority storefronts will accept contraband, and not kiosks. Fortunately, there isn’t anything out of the ordinary that you have to do to pawn off your goods. Simply go up to the vendor, and sell as you would any other item.

Each vendor will only stock a limited amount of Credits, meaning you’ll have to jump around a bit if you have an inordinate amount of contraband on your persons.

Starfield contraband: A player in the shop inventory selling contraband.

If zipping around the cosmos isn’t to your liking, then the good news is that a vendor’s stock resets every 24-48 in-game hours depending on the planet, allowing you to replenish their Credits by waiting for however long it takes – be it on a bench or in a bed. Once the allotted time is up, continue pawning off the goods and get that bag.

However, while these are some great locations to sell contraband in Starfield, you’ll need to be careful of scans in all but a couple of places. For example, New Atlantis will scan you for contraband upon entering. If caught, your contraband will be confiscated and you will have to pay a fine. We’ll dig into this later, don’t worry.

However, if you’ve found your way to the Wolf star system, which is just to the north-east of Alpha Centauri, then you can dock at The Den space station, before making use of the Trade Authority vendor there. You won’t be scanned upon entry, making it the best place in Starfield to sell contraband as you can get to Wolf in the early game.

Alternatively, if you’ve started the Starfield UC Vanguard faction story or found the Crimson Fleet by yourself, then The Key is the best place to sell contraband. This is because The Key, now the home of the Crimson Fleet of pirates, also won’t scan you for contraband and features a full Trade Authority vendor. As such, you’re able to cruise into The Key with plenty of contraband without the risk of getting caught and having it confiscated. Given it’s home to pirates, it makes sense that they wouldn’t attempt to stop you.

YouTube Thumbnail

What is contraband in Starfield?

Starfield contraband are rare items that have been deemed illegal and will be confiscated by security if found, requiring you to smuggle them to vendors. However, selling contraband is incredibly lucrative.

The Starfield contraband items are:

  • Aurora
  • Harvested Organs
  • Mech Components
  • Sentient AI Adapters
  • Stolen Artwork
  • Va’Ruun Heretic Writings
  • Xenowarfare Tech

Marked by a yellow icon in the world and in your inventory, contraband items are rare illegal goods that can be sold to vendors, such as stolen artwork and harvested organs. However, planets and settlements will scan your ship for contraband upon arrival, meaning you need to know how to smuggle and how to sell contraband effectively. If you fail a scan and guard ships detect contraband on your ship, they will attempt to arrest or attack you; these items can be confiscated and you’ll lose out on ‘easy’ money.

It’s worth pointing out that, if you have contraband in your personal inventory, you will always be caught by the guards, so you’ll need to make sure you’ve got a few ship upgrades before attempting to get rich from piracy.

If you’re a member of the Crimson Fleet faction, there is also the Smuggling mission available from the Starfield Mission Board. This will require you to smuggle contraband for the Fleet, so you don’t want to get caught and fail the objective.

Starfield where to sell contraband: A ship being scanned for contraband, showing the smuggling process.

How to smuggle contraband in Starfield

To smuggle contraband in Starfield, take the Deception skill and upgrade your ship with Shielded Cargo holds and Scan Jammers to reduce the effectiveness of scans when entering planets and systems.

Once you’ve landed at a location with a Trade Authority vendor, leave your ship with the cargo still in the cargo hold and make your way to the Trade Authority. Given the contraband is still onboard your ship, and not in your personal inventory, you’ll be able to bypass the additional scanners. Once you’ve reached the Trade Authority, simply sell the contraband from your ships inventory.

While reducing the number of contraband items you have onboard your ship is one way to reduce the effectiveness of scans against you, this will reduce the potential profits of any smuggling runs you do. Instead, we recommend investing in specific Starfield skills and your Starfield ships.

Firstly, the Deception skill – while not one of the best Starfield skills overall – is perfect for making smuggling and selling contraband much easier. At rank 1, Deception will make enemy contraband scans 10% less effective, and at max rank, this will increase to 50%. Sure, it will take at least a skill point, but it’s a simple and effective way to increase your chances of successfully smuggling contraband.

Secondly, it’s important to take advantage of Starfield ship customization to reduce the chances of being detected. Both the Shielded Cargo and Scan Jammer upgrades will protect the contents of your ship from scans. It isn’t one hundred percent effective, especially if all of your cargo is contraband, but the bonus is significant.

So, be sure to store your contraband in the Shielded Cargo hold, and only have about 30% of your total cargo onboard be contraband. Meanwhile, a Scan Jammer will reduce the effectiveness of any enemy scans. This way, it will be much easier to slip under the radar and reach a Trade Authority to sell contraband.

The best way to get your hands on the Shielded Cargo hold and Scan Jammer is to check the ship vendors at major settlements or by stealing high-quality ships. Given the rarity of these upgrades, it will take you some time to acquire them, especially as they are seldom for sale. However, you can board and steal ships that already have one of both of them installed. Learn how to dock in Starfield to find out more.

Starfield contraband smuggle: A player character standing with their arms out in front of their ship.

What happens if you get caught with contraband in Starfield?

If you get caught with contraband in Starfield, the items will be confiscated and you will have to pay a fine or serve a jail sentence. However, you can attempt to escape or bride the security to avoid punishment.

Getting caught with contraband isn’t as big a deal as it might sound. You’ll most likely have more than enough credits to pay the fine, letting you continue without much interruption. Otherwise, you can serve your sentence for a short time in jail.

If you’re looking to get away from a fine or jail time, then you can attempt to avoid punishment by escaping or bribing the security. Escaping might sound the most promising, though you’ll have to deal with a bounty on your head which is akin to just paying the initial fine.

A much better tactic is attempting to bribe security. For this, you’ll need the Negotiation skill. While this will still cost you money, and can indeed fail, it’s a good way to avoid harsher punishments. If you’re planning to be a space pirate, investing in Negotiation is a good idea.

How to get contraband back in Starfield

You can take back your confiscated contraband in Starfield by heading to the security office of whichever settlement confiscated it and stealing from the Stolen Items Locker.

In this chest you will find all the goods that were confiscated from you, including contraband items. However, you will have to lockpick the chest, so be on the lookout for guards who might detect you while you steal back your hard-earned contraband.

In terms of where to find confiscated contraband, the security offices can often be found near the entrances to the cities. For example, if you were caught entering New Atlantis on Jemison, then the security office is just past the first set of scanners after leaving the landing pad.

New Atlantis is where we started selling our contraband at the start of the game, given it’s the first city you’ll enter, so we’re unfortunately familiar with this security office. Hopefully your smuggling endeavors will be more successful thanks to these tips and you won’t have to sneak into security in search of your confiscated contraband.

Is smuggling and selling contraband in Starfield worth it?

Yes, smuggling and selling contraband in Starfield is worth the trouble given how much money can be made. However, you’ll first need to invest in the ship upgrades and skills we went over above, otherwise you’ll get caught and it will all have been for nothing.

Once you’re ready though, you’ll be able to run a successful smuggling ‘business’, selling contraband to earn a steady stream of credits. Knowing where to find contraband is key though, so following contraband farms like the one above will keep the illegal goods flowing.

Now you know it’s worth it, find out the best contraband farm to make it in the big leagues.

YouTube Thumbnail

Starfield contraband farm

The best Starfield contraband farm is searching the abandoned Almagest space station in orbit around Nesoi in the Olympus system. This location features several containers full of contraband items that can be taken and sold.

Once inside The Almagest space station, head further into the area and, once you reach the bar, fly up to the middle floor. Here you will find a small room with several containers, some of which require Starfield lockpicking to access. Inside these containers will often be contraband. This will be located near the Starfield jackpot combination location.

As ‘TagBackTV’ notes in the video above, if you increase the difficulty of the game before entering the space station, you will get higher quality loot. However, you can turn the difficulty back down to your normal setting once inside. Given there are some challenging enemies inside, we’d recommend doing this method too.

And that’s all you need to know about the Starfield contraband system, including how to sell contraband in Starfield and how to smuggle. Now you know how to live like a pirate, spend your new-found mountain of credits on building the best Starfield outposts and Starfield houses you can so you can stick your feet up in style. But if that’s not for you, then upgrade your Starfield crew and best Starfield weapons by expanding your enterprise further.

Still looking for more? While a good Starfield wiki can be a handy source of information, our new Starfield Database goes further, offering you daily news, searchable databanks, and even interactive tools.