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Dutch elections & Expat voting rights

Dutch elections & Expat voting rights

To be eligible to vote in most elections in the Netherlands you must have Dutch citizenship. However, municipal elections are open to the local expatriate community, as are EU elections for expats with EU citizenship.

Expat voting rights in the Netherlands

Here is a brief guide to the elections that expats can participate in in the Netherlands.

Municipal elections

In municipal elections (Gemeenteraad), expats have the right to participate as long as they are registered with their municipality. This also applies to Dutch and EU citizens, but not to embassy and consular staff.

Non-EU citizens must have lived in the Netherlands uninterrupted for at least five years. For non-EU expats living in Amsterdam, it is possible to vote in the District Council (Bestuurscommissie) elections if you have been registered in the city for more than three years.

EU elections

For the European Parliament, EU citizens are eligible to vote either in their country of origin (local candidates) or in the Netherlands (Dutch candidates). Please note that in both cases participants have to be over 18 and not have lost their right to vote.

On the other hand, expats in the Netherlands are not eligible to vote for either Parliamentary or Provincial elections.

Dutch elections overview

The Netherlands has elections for three levels of government: national, provincial and municipal.

Eerste Kamer (Senate)

  • Once every four years.
  • Within three months after the Provincial elections.
  • Indirect vote.

Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives)

  • Once every four years.
  • Participants need to be Dutch nationals over 18 years of age who are eligible to vote.

Provincial council

  • Once every four years.
  • 12 provinces in the Netherlands: Drenthe, Flevoland, Fryslan, Gelderland, Groningen, Limburg, Noord-Brabant, Noord-Holland, Overijssel, Utrecht, Zeeland, Zuid-Holland.
  • Number and "vote value" of provincial council members depends on the number of inhabitants.
  • Eerste Kamer members are elected by the provincial council.
  • Direct vote.
  • Participants need to be Dutch nationals over 18 years of age who are eligible to vote.

Municipal council

  • Once every four years.
  • Over 400 municipalities in the Netherlands.
  • Number of municipal councillors (always an odd number) depends on the number of inhabitants.
  • Participants need to be over 18 years of age, registered with the municipality, eligible to vote and either an EU citizen or a non-EU citizen who has lived in the Netherlands uninterrupted for at least five years.

European Parliament

  • 26 seats to be distributed.
  • EU citizens vote either in their country of origin or in the Netherlands.

Largest active political parties in the Netherlands

Here is a list of the largest Dutch political parties:

  • VVD
  • Partij van de Arbeid (P.v.d.A.)
  • Democraten 66 (D66)
  • SP (Socialistische Partij)
  • CDA
  • GROENLINKS​​​
  • ​​​​Partij voor de Dieren
  • ChristenUnie
  • Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij (SGP)
  • 50PLUS
  • PVV (Partij voor de Vrijheid)
  • VNL (VoorNederland)
  • OndernemersPartij

Voting pass

A "voting pass" is mailed by the local municipality to all residents who are entitled to vote. Note that:

  • A voting pass is absolutely necessary in order to vote at the numerous polling stations.
  • Appointing someone else to vote on your behalf is possible.

In case the voting pass is lost or damaged:

  • Submit the voting pass form at a sub-municipal office.
  • Provide a valid proof of identity (not a driving licence).

Useful links about Dutch elections

Read also

  • Dutch citizenship

    Dutch citizenship

    Information about Dutch citizenship including naturalisation, dual nationality, requirements, benefits, costs, how to apply and permanent residency.
    read more
  • Registration in the Netherlands

    Registration in the Netherlands

    Find out how to get registered, where and what documents expats need for the Dutch registration process.
    read more
  • Dutch municipality (Gemeente)

    Dutch municipality (Gemeente)

    A municipality, town hall or city council is known in Dutch as a gemeente.
    read more
  • The Dutch government

    The Dutch government

    Learn more about the Dutch government as well as the constitution, provincial governments, municipalities, water boards, and ministries in the Netherlands.
    read more