How to Profit Big From Smuggling Contraband in Starfield Game

Smuggling contraband in Starfield can be an extremely lucrative way to make money fast. However, you need to be careful to avoid getting caught by authorities which can land you in jail and confiscate your contraband. This guide will provide tips on maximizing your profits from smuggling illegal goods while minimizing risks.

What is Contraband in Starfield

Contraband refers to illegal goods that are prohibited from being bought, sold or transported in certain jurisdictions in the Starfield universe. Common examples include:

  • Aurora
  • Black market antiquities
  • Harvested organs
  • Mech components
  • Sentient AI adapters
  • Stolen artwork
  • Xenowarfare research

Contraband items are marked with a yellow icon in your inventory. Getting caught with contraband, especially in patrolled systems, can lead to fines, jail time, and confiscation of the illegal items.

How to Smuggle Contraband

To successfully smuggle contraband past security scans when entering populated systems, you need:

1. Shielded Cargo Hold

Install a shielded cargo hold module on your ship from a Rare Parts Dealer. This masks the contraband from scans. Complete The Mantis quest early on to get the Razorleaf ship which comes with a shielded hold.

2. Signal Jammer

Equip a single scan jammer on your ship to boost chances of avoiding detection. Higher tier jammers provide better odds.

3. Level Up Deception Skill

Invest perk points to increase the Deception skill. At higher levels, it improves your ability to sneak contraband through security checks.

4. Careful Planning

Study the space map and plan smuggling routes through less patrolled systems. Avoid core systems controlled by the United Colonies and Freestar Collective factions which have tighter security.

Where To Sell Contraband

The best locations to fence your hot contraband include:

The Den (Wolf System)

As an outlaw haven, The Den space station offers the safest place to sell your contraband early on. You won’t get scanned when landing there.

Trade Authority Vendors

These shady vendors at major settlements will buy your contraband without asking questions. They typically carry more credits than regular vendors.

The Key (Kryx System)

After joining the Crimson Fleet faction, you can sell contraband freely at The Key station without fear of scans.

Your Personal Outpost

Stash your contraband at your outpost from the Dream Home trait for later retrieval before visiting patrolled planets.

Smuggling Contraband Missions

Taking on smuggling missions from factions like the Crimson Fleet can be very profitable. For example, early missions reward the useful Razorleaf smuggling ship on completion.

As you build trust, you gain access to more lucrative high-stakes smuggling contracts. The rewards scale up to hundreds of thousands of credits per run once you have mastered evasion tactics.

Dealing With Consequences

Despite best efforts, sometimes you will get caught smuggling contraband when entering patrolled areas resulting in:


Fines up to a few thousand credits are common if caught for the first time. You can pay them off at Admin Facilities.


Getting scanned with contraband means it will be confiscated by authorities. Check confiscated goods containers in jail to recover them.

Jail Time

Multiple offenses can land you a stay in jail for several days. Use the wait feature to serve your time or make a daring escape.

XP Penalty

Time spent in jail negatively impacts XP progression. Minimize incarceration to avoid falling behind on leveling up.

Advanced Smuggling Tactics

Once you have mastered the basics, additional tactics can help take your smuggling profits to the next level:

Exploit System Boundaries

Park your smuggling ship just outside patrolled system boundaries. Transfer contraband to an unshielded shuttle using cargo transporters to run goods just past security scans.

Emergency Jumps

If intercepted during a smuggling run, pre-plot emergency grav jumps to instantly warp to safety before being boarded.

Custom Signatures

Research cloaking device blueprints that modify your ship’s signature to avoid detection. This requires high levels of Science and Engineering skills.

Crew Management

Hire crew members with security expertise and high composure. Then order them to manage ship operations when boarded to optimize your odds.

Final Tips

Follow these last pieces of advice to get the most out of your smuggling activities:

  • Quick save frequently in case you get caught and need to reload
  • Sell excess contraband to keep cargo small and avoid detection
  • Only carry what you are willing to lose to authorities
  • When caught, comply fully with authorities to minimize penalties

Smuggling contraband takes nerves of steel but can make you outrageously wealthy if done right. Master these techniques to become the galaxy’s most profitable outlaw trader. Good luck on your shady dealings!