If you’re hanging on the seedier side of the universe in Bethesda Game Studios’ Starfield, contraband is a great way to get by. However, because it’s illegal, you must jump through a few hoops to sell it.
When carrying it, you’re scanned before landing on a planet and subject to surrendering it. You also must pay a fine or go to jail, which can impose an XP penalty. Any stolen items on your ship (denoted by red icons) are also taken if found by the authorities, though they don’t show up on scans.
Contraband is denoted by a yellow icon. You find it when raiding pirate or mercenary ships. Check the cockpit or the hold to find it (though it’s inside contraband chests). Scans will always happen when visiting planets controlled by the Freestar Collective or United Colonies. So, the question is: How do you effectively smuggle contraband? Fortunately, there are a few ways.
How to Pass Contraband Scans
Contraband has weight – the higher it goes, the greater the chances of being detected. To reduce that chance, you need three things: The Deception Skill, Shielded Cargo Modules and a Scan Jammer.
To unlock Deception, you must spend four Skill Points in the Social Skill tree. At Rank 1, it makes contraband scans by enemies 10 percent less effective. At Rank 2, this increases to 20 percent, then 30 percent at Rank 3, and finally capping at 50 percent for Rank 4. However, as you’ve probably noticed, it’s not a safe guarantee against scans, but it reduces the chances of them picking up anything.
Another method is to install Shielded Cargo Modules on your ship. When contraband is inside, it has a chance of avoiding detection from scans. You can obtain Shielded Cargo Modules by joining the Crimson Fleet and going to the Kryx system. Journey to The Key station and you’ll eventually meet Jasmine, who sells ships, and she’ll have Shielded Cargo Hold in the Modules tab.
Equip this in your ship, place the contraband inside and voila – they now have a chance of not showing up during planetary scans. Remember: Contraband must be placed inside the module to evade detection. Modules have a weight limit, so you can’t stuff everything inside, and any contraband that’s on your person or lying around in the ship has a chance to be detected.
Alternatively, it’s possible to find ships with Shielded Cargo Modules attacked. If you go to Porrima 3 in the Porrima system and the Red Mile, you can talk to Lon Anderrsen to purchase some. There’s also The Razorleaf, a Legendary ship you get a separate quest for when playing through The Old Neighborhood quest in Nova Galactic Starstation. It can be tough, especially when first starting the game, but the Mantis provides significant upgrades over the Frontier (and you also get the Mantis armor set from the same mission).
You can also purchase the Scan Jammer – Single-Frequency, which also increases the chances of contraband passing scans. While it’s not yet known if there’s a 100 percent chance to pass contraband scans, it should be possible if you have Deception Rank 4, a Shielded Cargo Module and Scan Jammer. If you have the Credits to spare, smuggling contraband may be worth doing early on, especially since you can make some pretty crazy cash by smuggling Aurora.
To sell contraband, look for the Trade Authority on a planet, denoted by the yellow signs. Speak to them and then switch to your ship’s inventory to sell them the items in question. Trade Authority ships are also found in the wild and don’t require scans if it’s in a system that either Faction doesn’t control. Another alternative is to go to The Key and sell stuff to the Trade Authority there since the Crimson Fleet doesn’t bother scanning.
Starfield launches worldwide on September 6th for Xbox Series X/S and PC, while also being available on day one for Game Pass. It’s currently available in early access for Premium Edition owners. Check out our official review (where we awarded it a 10 out 10) for more details. You can also read our other guides, like obtaining unlimited Credits, assigning weapons to the radial wheel, and fast traveling quickly to mission locations.