There are 390 municipalities in the Netherlands. When the government took office in November 2012 there were 415, but some have been merged since then. Municipalities only carry out tasks that directly affect local residents, like household refuse collection, issuing passports and drawing up land-use plans.
Municipalities implement national and municipal policy
Municipalities have autonomous powers to decide on many issues, like building theatres, creating cycle paths or building houses. Making these decisions is the municipal authorities’ most important task. Municipalities also implement many national laws, like the ones requiring them to issue passports and identity cards to their residents.
Municipalities have many different tasks. They:
- keep a record of who lives within their boundaries, through the Personal Records Database (BRP);
- issue official documents, like passports or identity cards and driving licences;
- pay benefit to those who cannot provide for themselves;
- are responsible for the Social Support Act (WMO), the Participation Act and youth care;
- are responsible for school buildings and allocate additional funding to support pupils who require extra support;
- draw up land-use plans designating residential, industrial and green areas;
- supervise the construction of homes in consultation with housing associations;
- build and maintain streets, pavements and cycle paths;
- implement the Environmental Management Act, which requires that different types of household waste are collected separately, for instance;
- award grants to local services, like swimming pools or libraries;
- ensure industrial parks are easily accessible;
- issue permits for market traders.