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Dutch Municipalities (Gemeente)

Dutch Municipalities (Gemeente)

Municipalities play an important role in the Netherlands. A municipality, town hall or city council is known in Dutch as a gemeente, and you will hear this word often in all kinds of administration, from registering at your home address and paying taxes, to registering a marriage.

The gemeente is the third tier of governmental administration in the Netherlands, after the Dutch government and the Dutch provinces. As of January 1, 2018, there are 380 gemeenten or municipalities in the Netherlands.

Structure of the Dutch gemeente

Dutch municipalities are governed by the municipal council (gemeenteraad) and the mayor and aldermen (College van burgemeester en wethouders). Each municipality’s mayor is appointed by Royal Decree on the recommendation of the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. The aldermen are appointed by the municipal council, which is elected by the municipality.

Responsibilities of the gemeente

Dutch municipalities are in charge of many tasks and responsibilities. These include:

  • Urban planning such as housing.
  • Traffic and transport including roads and paths for cycling.
  • Education such as the management of local public schools.
  • Welfare and social affairs.
  • Council rates such as property or tourist tax.
  • Accepting applications for Dutch passports and driving licences.

Registering with your Dutch municipality

When you first arrive in the Netherlands, or when you change address, you will need to register with your local gemeente. Being registered to a specific home address allows the Municipal Personal Records Database or Basisregistratie personen (BRP) to track the size of the Dutch population, to better handle emergency situations and to allocate the right municipal taxes to each household.

Dutch municipal rates and taxes for residents

If you buy a house in the Netherlands then you will need to pay yearly council rates and taxes on your property. These taxes include:

  • Property tax on real estate based on your home’s WOZ value (Onroerendezaakbelastingen -OZB).
  • Garbage collection rates (Afvalstoffenheffing).
  • Sewage rates (Rioolheffing).
  • Mobile property taxes for houseboats, caravans and kiosks (Roerende Ruimtenbelastingen - RRB).
  • Parking permit for residents with a car (Parkeervergunning bewoners).

Other municipal taxes

Other forms of tax that municipalities collect are:

  • Waste collection for businesses (Reinigingsrecht bedrijven). 
  • Tourist tax paid by hotels and accommodation for paying guests (Toeristenbelasting).
  • Amusement rates for boat owners who take paying guests on canal cruises (Vermakelijkhedenretributie).

Municipality addresses and contact info in the Netherlands

To register at your address, or for other administrative issues, most gemeenten require you to make an appointment before visiting their office, so it’s wise to call in advance.

Gemeente Amsterdam

Gemeente Den Haag

Gemeente Utrecht

Gemeente Rotterdam

Gemeente Groningen

Gemeente Nijmegen

Gemeente Eindhoven

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