What happens to the worlds that are within Federation Space that decline to join the UFP? How are they treated?

  • 7
    If they're not part of the Federation, can they really be said to be within Federation space? I'd expect them to just be enclaves.
    – jwodder
    Commented Apr 5, 2012 at 0:55
  • 3
    There are none...if you catch my drift... Commented Apr 5, 2012 at 1:16
  • 4
    There's also the planets whose application to the Federation is denied.
    – Izkata
    Commented Apr 5, 2012 at 1:19
  • 5
    They're ground under the bootheels of Starfleet, but since Star Trek is written by Federation citizens, you'd never know that. :) Commented Apr 14, 2012 at 20:46
  • 6
    exterminate, exterminate, exterminaaaaaate
    – bitmask
    Commented Apr 14, 2012 at 21:28

7 Answers 7


I think the simple answer is: They got to keep their space.

I have no official source to back this up, but if we look at the Federation, then the most plausible way to deal with worlds which are enclosed by Federation space is to give them their space.

E.g. imagine a world within Federation-Space boundaries, if that world does not want to be part of the Federation, it would most likely get a certain "private" space assigned to it and maybe further privileges (like fly-through Federation space to other stars etc.).

Showing a neutral world in its "bubble"

From there the diplomatic relations are pretty straight forward like with every other world outside their borders.

  • 7
    Keep in mind that in a 3d universe, the Federation could even leave unclaimed "corridors" allowing these worlds to leave the broader area of Federation territory without technically entering Federation space. It's only on a 2d map that doing this would cut Federation space itself into disconnected pieces. Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 23:37
  • 3
    I doubt they'd surround non federation worlds like that. More likely theres a concept similar to international waters.
    – Andy
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 2:49

Another example: In the 4th-season Next Generation episode "First Contact", Chancellor Durken, a planetary leader, asks Captain Picard:

And if I should tell you to leave, and never return to my world?

Picard replies:

We will leave, and never return.

It's strongly implied (in that episode and elsewhere) that this is Federation / Starfleet policy.


  • Isnt there a TNG episode that contains an encounter with a world like this, that has requested to be left alone, and the Enterprise has to visit for some reason / crisis? Cant find it for the life of me, apologies if im confusing it with something else.
    – Dpeif
    Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 5:08
  • @Dpeif: Sounds like the TOS episode "A Taste of Armageddon". The Enterprise receives a message from Eminiar VII warning them not to approach, but Ambassador Fox orders Kirk to proceed anyway. memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/A_Taste_of_Armageddon_(episode) Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 22:21
  • good call, now that you say that I am also reminded of the TNG novel Metamorphosis with the planet Elysia. Perhaps that is the source of my original confusion.
    – Dpeif
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 21:09

To use a real world analogy, Switzerland is entirely enveloped by the European Union. There is no animosity between the EU and the Swiss. They are regular trade partners and the borders are open. The Swiss have signed a number of treaties which harmonize their laws and regulations with the EU yet they retain their independence, constitution and currency.

This is made easier because of the structure of the European Union. Many things we think are part of the EU (for example, who gets to use the Euro) are actually other treaties which allows non-EU members to participate (and EU members to not participate). It's complicated.

I would expect the Federation to act much the same way. Some members, like the UK, would never consider being military enemies but are always grumbling about the rules and stumping for exceptions because they are a unique, and rich, snowflake (no Euro, no free travel). Some non-members, like the Swiss, would enjoy economically playing nice nice with the Federation but would not want to participate in their military or politics. Some non-members would use Federation credits because their economy is too small to bother with their own currency.

On the flip side, the Federation would politically and economically pressure its enveloped neighbors to stop doing things it doesn't like. Another real world example from the Swiss and EU is world pressure on the Swiss to get rid of secret Swiss bank accounts as places for people to hide their money. Instead of rolling tanks in, the EU and US threatened to move their money out. "Do this, or we won't bank with you anymore and collapse your economy". I would expect the Federation to deal with its enveloped neighbors in much the same way, using trade pressure rather than starships.

This is just an analogy, and I don't have canon reference to back it up, but I feel its a good one. The Federation is cobbled together out of different cultures and species with their own history, traditions and laws just like the EU.

  • But the issue with threatening even just through trade would also be against the non-interference mandate the Federation holds dear. So I'm not sure I agree with that point. Yes they would have made first-contact, but they also would have agreed that they would not have anything to do with that world since they turned them down. Thus to become aggressive against a world (even if it's just a trade threat) would mean interference. Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 19:01
  • 2
    @MissouriSpartan: If you have enough trade with someone that trade sanctions could be considered a threat, then I'd say that non-interference doesn't apply. They have to work with you to trade, so they've agreed to contact.
    – JRE
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 19:23
  • @JRE yes but my point is, that would be clear violation of Federation protocol in non-interference. It would be blatant interference in how a world does business. If the neutral world was trying to prepare a joint invasion of Federation space with the Romulans, that’d be one thing, but if they had economic practices that the Federation didn’t like, the Federation would have to openly violate their own non-interference clause by interfering through economics. There are worlds that would want no contact at all too. Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 19:28
  • 1
    @MissouriSpartan If you're referring to the Prime Directive, that only applies to less developed species. Usually non-starfairing species. If the neutral planet is engaging in interstellar trade, the Prime Directive does not apply. If an advanced civilization wanted no contact, there is no conflict with the Federation and they would likely honor it. In general, the Federation does not interfere even with advanced races. Examples: they deal with the ultra-patriarchal Ferengei, and showed great restraint in the Klingon civil war.
    – Schwern
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 21:17

This is addressed in the Star Trek: Star Charts factbook.

Planets that are deemed unsuitable to join the Federation (or simply choose not to do so) appear to be placed into enclaves, surrounded by Federation space, but not part of the Federation proper.

I think we can be reasonably sure that the Federation will attempt to maintain positive diplomatic relations with these non-aligned planets and continue to evangelise the positive benefits of joining.

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Depending on the outlook, nothing, but a good example of this is the Maquis who were Federation born citizens but rebelled against the Federation and started their own independent state and were almost at the point of formally declaring this to the Federation, until The Dominion wiped them all out.

A quote from the Maquis wiki.

The Maquis considered themselves an independent state and were going to formally declare their separation from the Federation, but these plans never materialized, because they were eventually defeated by one of Cardassia's prime allies, the Dominion and its powerful army of Jem'Hadar

How they were treated was generally bad (albeit they did start deploying guerilla tactics against the Cardassians and Federation), even though technically outside of the jurisdiction from the UFP, the Federation generally treated them as traitors and they were enforced under Federation law. They were free game to every other alien race out there, The Dominion destroyed them for their Cardassian pals because of how the Cardassians viewed them as terrorists.

  • 2
    I think the Maquis are a bad example, as far as I know, most of them were quitters from Starfleet, some of them stealing equipment and ships along the way. Additionally they took steps against Federation, too. So of course Federation wanted them prisoned.
    – Bobby
    Commented Apr 14, 2012 at 20:30
  • 1
    No, I meant that of course the Federation is pissed at the Maquis, because they pissed at them first (quitting Starfleet, stealing equipment/ships, threats, espionage, etc.).
    – Bobby
    Commented Jul 29, 2012 at 20:27
  • 2
    The Maquis did a lot of things that easily looked like terrorist/thug activities. It was hard to sympathize with them.
    – user15742
    Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 15:51
  • 2
    The Maquis are a complicated example. They lived in the Federation/Cardassian Demilitarized Zone and were a political hot potato. Some in the Federation were sympathetic, but their activities threatened the peace.
    – Schwern
    Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 17:15
  • 1
    The Maquis are also a bad example because they were originally people who didn't want to leave the Federation, but were going to be abandoned by the Federation, and because the decisions of which planets were or weren't Federation were determined by negotiation with another multi-system polity.
    – Werrf
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 18:20

On the STTOS episode "Journey to Babel" a secret agent from a "neutral" planet, who was surgically altered to appear Andorian, set a trap for the Enterprise as it carried diplomats to the planet Babel where negotiations between Federation planets were to take place.

Also note frequent episodes in all of the series in which the Federation makes first contact with alien civilizations. In these episodes, the Federation treats the people on these planets as humanely and respectfully as possible.


It appears that the Federation marks out and lays claim to all space it travels in until it reaches another alien species that also lays claim to an exclusive area of space such as the Klingon Empire or Romulan Star Empire in which case a treaty is negotiated designating an agreed to amount of space as belonging to the alien government which is surrounded by a buffer zone claimed by neither party (designated a Neutral Zone) serving as a barrier between the two regions that neither party are permitted to enter (the distance across the neutral zone presumably being negotiated and agreed to by both parties in the treaty).

Certain worlds are not permitted to join the Federation due to lacking in technological development (pre-warp) or on account of certain conditions existing on the world that is incompatible with the Federation government such as the Orion Syndicate’s participation in the slave trade or the Ferengi’s obsession with profit and acquisition of wealth, who are permitted relative freedom of movement within Federation Space though they are not actually members of the Federation. Another condition required by the Federation is that the planet be unified (or at least) have a universally recognized governmental organization who can speak and act on behalf of the planet as a whole with the Federation during negotiation prior to membership and through such governmental organization an Ambassador to the Federation Council could later be chosen to represent the whole planet in the Federation Legislature in San Francisco. Such worlds are considered neutral worlds. Other worlds that for various reasons have been rejected admission to the Federation would share equivalent status as a neutral world.

Depending on the circumstances, a neutral world may be completely avoided by the Federation as “off limits”; may participate in trade and act in a manner similar to a member world in varying degrees of contact but without the protection of Starfleet against any alien incursion or assistance with any domestic conflict (the Orion Syndicate, Ferengi); or may be studied in secret such as the Vulcan relatives discovered on Mintaka III (ST:TNG “Who Watches the Watchers”).

As yet, there have been no instances of a member world of the Federation attempting to leave the Federation after having joined that I am aware of, and so whether the Federation is a union by continued voluntary consent of its members (in practice) or would be held together by force of arms enforced by the phasers and photon torpedoes of Starfleet, has as of yet to be tested on any official Star Trek series.

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