The Federation relies on an advanced transportation system that can convert matter into energy and beam it to distant locations.

One of the 24th century's most versatile and dynamic technologies - the matter transporter system, or transporter for short - is a fixture on every Starfleet vessel. Transporters allow individuals to travel thousands of kilometers in a matter of seconds, and mean that ships do not have to be capable of landing. Transporter technology was originally developed to a usable level in the early years of the 23rd century, and the general look and layout of the transporter system has been an intergral part of Federation starships for over 150 years. Always a complicated technical system, the transporter is very reliable in modern times, with malfunctions far less common than in the pioneering days.

The transporter provides a speedier mode of travel than vessels making planetfall, and allows rescues, repair, and covert assignments into otherwise inaccessible locations. The operating range of a transporter can reach 40,000 kilometers, and a standard transporter can handle up to six people at a time. Most starships also carry emergency transporters in case of evacuation; these tend to have a more restricted range of about 15,000 kilometers, depending on the available power. It is impossible to transport when deflector shields are raised, and transport between objects moving at warp speed is only advisable when both are traveling at the same velocity. Failure to precisely maintain the same speed could be fatal for living subjects.

Transporter operations are extremely complex. The slightest error can result in the deaths of those involved, so most of the process is automated. Even so, transport is always supervised by a specially trained transporter chief, who verifies the transporter lock and system status. This helps to make the procedure almost entirely risk-free.