Requesting information from the government (WOO request)

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Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

The government is required to actively disclose information under the Open Government Act (Wet open Overheid, WOO). This means that the government publishes information so everyone can take note of it. For instance:

  • information on laws, regulations, and decrees
  • minutes, records and other meeting documents
  • agendas and lists of decisions and resolutions
  • opinions and advice of advisory bodies or commissions
  • contact details and an explanation of how to request information
  • the organisation's working methods (for example tasks and responsibilities of the organisational units)
  • investigation reports
  • preparation, implementation, compliance, enforcement, and evaluation of policies
  • annual plans and annual reports

You can find the government documents on the open government website (in Dutch).

Some government information is not simply public. For instance, because it contains confidential data. To obtain that information, you have to make WOO request. This was previously known as a WOB request. The Open Government Act (WOO) has replaced the Government Information (Public Access) Act (WOB).

Filing a WOO request

Do you want to request information on the government’s actions? And is this information not immediately public? You can file a WOO request with the government organisation you want the information from. You can submit a request to for instance:

  • the central government (for example a ministry or department)
  • municipalities
  • provinces
  • regional water authorities
  • public-law organisations

In your WOO request you explain as precisely as possible which information you want. The government (organisation) then has 4 weeks to process your request. If you request a lot of information or complex information, the government can take at most 2 more weeks to respond to your WOO request.

Costs of a WOO request

A WOO request is free. Some organisations may ask you to pay for copies.

Reusing public sector information (open data)

The government has a lot of information on for example citizens, buildings, roads, and the climate. Entrepreneurs can use this information for commercial purposes. You can use this digital information for example by combining it with other data, to develop new products and services, such as apps, visualisations, and analyses.

Based on the Dutch Reuse of Public Sector Information Act (Wet hergebruik overheidsinformatie, WHO, in Dutch) government organisations must release this government information as open data. Unless there are good reasons not to disclose the data. You can find the information in the data register of the Dutch government (in Dutch).

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