Voting during the Dutch provincial elections

Once every four years, elections of the provincial councils take place. In 2023, the provincial elections will take place on March 15. Apart from residents with a residence permit, non-Dutch people from EU countries without a residence permit can also vote. But how do provincial elections work in the Netherlands? And how do you find out who you want to vote for?

How does the Dutch government work?

First, it is important to know how the Dutch government works. The Netherlands is a democracy, a form of government in which the residents rule. Representatives are elected to make decisions about the government. In the Netherlands, the representation of the people is called the House of Representatives: de Tweede Kamer. De Tweede Kamer represents the people, passes laws, and controls the government. There is also a senate: de Eerste Kamer. De Eerste Kamer is responsible for approving or disapproving laws that are proposed by de Tweede Kamer. De Eerste and Tweede Kamer together are called the Parliament.

In addition to the national government, there are two other levels of government in the Netherlands: the province and, below that, the municipalities. Provinces implement national policies and their own policies and are responsible for many things. For example, the provinces decide where they build nature and roads. In each province, citizens are represented on the board (Provinciale Staten). This board is elected at the provincial elections (provinciale verkiezingen), this year happening on March 15. The size of the municipal council depends on the size of the province. 

Dutch provincial elections in 2023

March 15 is election day. During the provincial elections, you choose the members of the provincial council. The candidates with the most votes become councilors. They make decisions about the policy of the province where you live in. Each candidate is a member of a political party. The more votes a party receives, the more seats (places) it gets in the provincial council.

Besides the provincial elections, you can also vote for your province's water board. The role of the water boards is to manage the water in the province. 

Check here if there is a polling station in your area.

Am I eligible to vote during the provincial elections?

Almost everyone is allowed to vote in the Netherlands. Every Dutch person with the right to vote can vote from the age of 18. Non-Dutch people also have the right to vote. Check here if you are allowed to vote if you live in the Netherlands, while you are non-Dutch:

I am from a country within the European Union (EU)
Residents of the Netherlands with a non-Dutch nationality but from a country within the EU may only vote if they are registered with a Dutch municipality.

I am from a country outside the European Union (EU)
Do you have the nationality of a country outside the EU? Then you must have lived in the Netherlands continuously for at least 5 years. You must have a residence permit.

Who should I vote for?

On 31 January 2023, all political parties submitted their list of candidates. It is quite normal that you are not sure who to vote for, because there are many people to choose from. Luckily, voting tools can help you to make your choice. Dutch options include StemWijzer and Kieskompas.

How does voting work?

If you are allowed to vote, you will automatically receive a voting pass (stempas in Dutch). You will automatically receive this voting pass in your mailbox two weeks before the elections. Did you not receive a voting pass or did you lose your voting pass? Then, you can request a substitute voting pass at your municipality.

stembureau flag
On election day, you can vote at one of the many polling stations (stembureaus). These are open all day: from 7:30 in the morning until 21:00 in the evening. To make it easy for everyone, you can often find a polling station nearby. You can find the nearest polling station on your voting pass. Most polling stations have an identifiable flag in front of the entrance.

You need to identify yourself at the polling station. Dutch people and people with an identity from any EU member state, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Norway can identify themselves with their passport, driver’s license, or identity card. For people from Switzerland, a driving license is no valid identification. Are you coming from another country outside the EU? Then you can only identify yourself with a valid passport. And very important: bring your voting pass!

At the polling station, one of the election workers will ask you for your voting pass and any valid identification paper. Without these documents, you are not allowed to vote. You will receive voting paper and a red pencil. The voting paper is a (very) large sheet of paper. Choose your candidate, color the dot in front of your candidate’s name red, and fold the paper again. Finally, put your voting paper in the mailbox.


In the evening, the unofficial results will be announced on television. About two days after the voting day, the provinces will announce the official results.

Good to know

Last, but not least: some things which are good to know:
    •   Children are not allowed into the voting booth!
    •   You may take a photo of your voting paper, but you must ensure the privacy of the other voters.


written by Inge

Big fan of content, in all ways. A good chance that you won’t spot her without her phone. Trained her thumb to scroll on social media and loves to write.