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

Public access and accessibility

Generally all archival records of the government are publicly accessible and can be consulted for free. Sustained accessibility of paper and digital records is paramount.

The Dutch government keeps its archives properly organised and accessible. This enables the government to:

  • see that tasks are carried out properly and in the agreed manner
  • support citizens or institutions seeking seeking legal or evidentiary information
  • make historical and cultural history research possible

Only when the permanent custody of all relevant government information has been ensured by the State can the Minister guarantee that citizens can check and call to account government officials. This is of course essential in a democracy. Furthermore, the citizen in search of justice and evidence is dependent on the archives. For example, this would be the case when someone sought legally relevant data about themselves or their ancestors or their home. The State Archives Service strives to provide maximum public accessibility to such government information.

As soon as archival material is transferred into a state archives repository, it becomes the responsibility of the Minister of Education, Culture and Science (OW&W). This applies equally to private archives as well as those from government bodies. The Wet Openbaarheid van Bestuur (WOB, or Open Government Act) no longer applies once archival records have been transferred into a state archives repository, but instead they become subject to the Archiefwet (Archives Act). This provides each citizen with the right to consult the archives, under certain conditions. The State Archives Services guarantees this right for Dutch citizens.