Starfield: Best place to sell Contraband without getting Scanned
A huge element of Starfield is trading - and it’s also one of the easiest and quickest ways to make oodles of money. The best items to trade are Contraband - but knowing where to sell contraband without getting caught is more complicated than standard items.
In Starfield, Contraband is marked in the menu with a yellow box-and-arrow icon - the same icon that appears when an item is stolen, except for items acquired via thievery it’s red instead. Yellow means that the item has technically been acquired fair-and-square - but the item itself is illegal within the boundaries of the settled systems.
Contraband is a real problem, because most civilized systems that are part of the United Colonies (UC) or Freestar Collective scan your ship when you enter their systems or planetary orbits. This scan can detect contraband - and being caught with it on your person or ship is a crime. In this guide:
- Where to sell Contraband safely in Starfield
- The Best Places to sell Contraband without getting scanned
- How to avoid scans to smuggle Contraband
- What happens if you get caught with Contraband
Contraband comes in the form of many items including things like illegally harvested human organs, illicit drugs, or even mechanical components that have been outlawed due to what they can be used for.
In order to sell these items, you’ll need to either smuggle Contraband into civilized systems, or sell Contraband to less reputable vendors.
This is a pain, but the flip side is that Contraband is hugely valuable - which makes it a great way to stack up cash for doing things like buying premium ship parts from the Best Ship Manufacturers to open up your Ship Building options.
The most common vendor you’ll find to take contraband items is the Trade Authority - though you’ll have to sell illegal items directly to a Trade Authority representative in one of their regional offices. These can be found on most major Settled Systems planets, and you’ll likely have visited a few of these offices as part of various quests. However, you’ll need to bypass security scans to reach many of these offices.
This rule of finding less reputable vendors carries, however. For instance, if you can find a way to get friendly with the Crimson Fleet, those space bandits will happily take any Contraband off your hands.
We do have one great tip for selling Contraband without investing in any ship upgrades, however. Even with the most basic of ships with no cargo bay shielding, you can sell contraband at two key locations - the Red Mile in the Porrima system, and The Den in the Wolf system.
If you discover Contraband in your adventures and are finding yourself unable to enter the settled systems without ejecting it into space - which would he a huge waste of credits - take a detour to one of these two locations:
The Den can be found in the Wolf system, and is a space station orbiting Chthonia. This star station is technically in United Colonies space, but unlike most controlled space in Starfield, there's no contraband scan when you warp in here, thanks to the nature of the station.
If you're unsure of the location of the Wolf System, open up your map and look for the star system that's at the exact mid-point between Alpha Centauri (the location of New Atlantis) and the Narion system, which is home to The Clinic and the Stround-Eklund Ship Parts Manufacturer Shipyard.
In here you'll find a Trade Authority booth, which you can't sell Contraband to, but also a small Trade Authority Kiosk staffed by Marcel Duris. He has around 11,000 credits, and will gladly take Contraband off your hands.
If you choose to visit anywhere else to sell up, you'll need to try to dodge the enemy scanners.
The Red Mile is a location found on Porrima III, a planet on the Porrima System. This is only just outside of the settled systems, to the east of the star map when New Atlantis and Sol are towards the far west. This is a shady location that’s home to a deadly sport that you can actually take part in.
There aren’t any major shops on Porrima III or at the Red Mile, but there is a bartender. When she’s ‘fully stocked’ she’ll have around 12,000 credits to buy with - and she’ll take your Contraband, no questions asked.
Once you complete the quest at the Red Mile, which is accessed by talking to the club's owner, it goes into your activities list as a repeatable task - meaning you’ll always have a way to route a waypoint right to this vendor, too. Handy!
If you want to be able to travel freely with Contraband and have more options of where to sell it, you’ll need to get your hands on a Shielded Cargo Hold. This is a special ship module that gives you a small bit of extra cargo space that is shielded - theoretically meaning it stops those probing scans from Settled Systems.
We say ‘theoretically’ because even a shielded cargo hold is no guarantee - they give you a percentage chance of dodging the scan, and scans from larger settlements, such as planets with major hub cities, are more probing and more likely to bypass even the sheilded cargo hold.
Shielded Cargo Holds can be purchased from rare ship parts dealers. As with selling Contraband, expect to have the most luck with those who are slightly untrustworthy, such as the Crimson Fleet - they specialize in smudging, in fact, so such parts are quite common for them. To access the Crimson Fleet’s base, follow the ‘Deep Cover’ side mission thread. Once you have a shielded cargo hold, you can apply it in the Ship Builder.
Alternatively, you could commander a ship with a shielded cargo bay yourself. If you get attacked by Crimson Fleet, there’s a decent chance the ships they fly will have some shielded cargo space. If you manage to disable, board, and take over these ships when you encounter them, you can take them to port, register them as your own, and you’ll then have a ship with Shielded Cargo Space.
Keep an eye out for the “Mantis” side mission, too - obtained by reading a slate titled “Secret Outpost!”, which itself can be found in a few different side quests including ‘Groundpounder’. You may be able to trigger this quest by simply stumbling on its location on Denebola I in the Denebola system, too. The ultimate side quest reward for the Mantis side mission is the Razorleaf, a ship with a small amount of shielded cargo space.
If a scanner successfully catches you out, you'll be hailed by the space cops. In truth, this process is basically the same as when you're caught stealing items on the ground by guards. The only difference is if you choose to ignore the ship hail, after a subsequent attempt or two the patrol ships nearby will turn hostile.
Hail accepted, in a dialogue option you'll have the option of surrendering yourself to the law. This will mean your Contraband will be confiscated with no way to get it back - and you'll also have to pay a fine, so you'll end up out of pocket.
Alternatively, instead of being fined you can be jailed - but this makes you lose EXP.
If you accidentally warp to the wrong system with Contraband on your person, we'd suggest warping away as soon as possible. You are likely to still get a bounty - but that can be paid off. You at least won't lose your valuable Contraband this way.