National Archives of the Netherlands (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science)

Public Records Act (1995)

Government organisations in the Netherlands have to fulfil a number of legal obligations in respect to creation and management of their archives. These obligations also apply to digital information.

The Wet Openbaarheid van Bestuur (Open Government Act), the Wet bescherming persoonsgegevens (Personal Data Protection Act) and the 1995 Archiefwet (Public Records Act) all include provisions about how government should deal with the data it produces and receives.

A number of the outline provisions contained in the Archives Act are developed in greater detail in its principal executive instrument, the 1995 Archiefbesluit (Decree on Public Records). Various aspects of this are developed in even more detail in ministerial regulations.

For whom is the Public Records Act applicable?

The Public Records Act applies to all 'government bodies'. For the purposes of the legislation, these are defined as:

  • any body forming part of a legal entity established under public law; and,
  • any other entity or body entrusted with any public authority.

In general terms, the scope of the 1995 Public Records Act coincides with that of the Algemene Wet Bestuursrecht (General Administrative Rights Act). However, the Public Records Act also applies to a number of government bodies which are specifically exempted from the General Administrative Rights Act. These include the Dutch Parliament and the judiciary.

Main areas of the Public Records Act

The 1995 Public Records Act covers a number of main areas, as follows:

  • archive creation and management by government organisations;
  • destruction, transfer and alienation; and,
  • access to archives.