Our history

© Sjoerd van der Hucht Fotografie



CBS was founded in 1899 in response to the need for independent, reliable information to facilitate a deeper understanding of social issues. CBS fulfils that role to this day. The organisation has since evolved into an innovative knowledge organisation, constantly adopting new technologies and developments to maintain its autonomy and the quality of its data.

In 2024, CBS will be celebrating two milestones in its history: the 125th anniversary of its founding and the 50th anniversary of its Heerlen office.

After all kinds of precursors, a Royal Decree on 6 October 1892 gave the go-ahead for official statistics with the establishment of the Central Commission for Statistics. With the new commission and a few years later with its working office, the Central Bureau of Statistics (1899), statistics gained their permanent place in policy discussions.

Central Commission for Statistics

Until 1 January 2017, the Central Commission for Statistics (CCS) held the status of autonomous administrative authority (ZBO) without legal personality. Under the Statistics Netherlands Act of 2003 (Government Gazette 516), it was assigned a number of tasks related to Statistics Netherlands and the provision of statistical information to central government.
As part of a government-wide examination of the repositioning of ZBOs under the Civil Service Reform Agenda, the Dutch cabinet decided at the end of 2013 to abolish the CCS’ status as ZBO. A legislative proposal to this end was adopted in 2016. On 1 January 2017, the legislative amendment by which the CCS’s status of ZBO was abolished came into effect, and an Advisory Council was established.

The Hague office 1899-1970

Office Den Haag 1899

CBS and its predecessors have been housed in many locations in The Hague. The organisation began in 1899 with five members of staff at the Binnenhof, a complex of buildings at the heart of Dutch politics. In its earliest beginnings, it worked from the ground floor of the Senate building, where the Central Commission for Statistics had its secretariat. After moving to various addresses in the city, CBS ended up at Oostduinlaan 2. In 1944, the main building had to be abandoned, as it formed part of ‘Fortress Clingendael’, a key element in the German occupiers’ Atlantic Wall coastal defence system. It was 1948 before CBS was able to return to Oostduinlaan.

Voorburg office 1970-2008

office Voorburg

From 1970 to 2008, CBS was housed in a building at Prinses Beatrixlaan 428 in Voorburg. This was a colossal structure with four wings, a floor area of 60,000 square metres and fourteen floors - four in a low-rise section and ten in a high-rise section. Beneath the building was a basement that provided car and bicycle parking and could serve as a bomb shelter for up to five thousand people in the event of an armed conflict.

Heerlen office 1974-2009

office Heerlen 1974

On 1 May 1974, the first CBS employees started work in Heerlen. To begin with, they moved to the former management building of Oranje Nassau Mines I, where temporary housing in the form of emergency pavilions had been erected on nearby playing fields. They were to leave this location on completion of a brand-new building. By the end of the year, 152 people were already working there. On 17 October 1975, the first pile for the new building went into the ground and in November 1978, CBS staff moved into the new building. It was a concrete monolith: a complex consisting of 16 uniform units in a rectangular layout around a central courtyard and surrounded by green space. It was opened by Princess Beatrix on 26 September 1979.

The Hague, Leidschenveen office 2008-present

The Hague, Leidschenveen office

Faced with a substantial maintenance backlog and a building that no longer met current requirements, CBS decided to go in search of new accommodation. After a lengthy process of negotiation, Leidschenveen was finally chosen as the location in late 2005. The new CBS building was designed by Pi de Bruijn’s firm De Architekten Cie. The existing urban plan and the location presented constraints on the design of the new building. The building has a total office space of 60,000 square metres, of which CBS occupies 30,000 square metres. Staff moved to the new Leidschenveen building on 23 and 24 August 2008. The official opening by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands took place on Wednesday, 8 October 2008.

Current Heerlen office 2009-present

Current Heerlen office 2009-present

The current office at CBS-weg 1 is a star-shaped building which consists of five office wings set around an atrium, designed by Amsterdam architects Meyer en Van Schooten. The building comprises approximately 22,000 square metres of office space and has 296 underground parking spaces. Developed and completed in a mere 29 months, the project was officially delivered in June 2009 and opened on 30 September that year by the then head of state Queen Beatrix.
The atrium contains a glass cylinder that indicates the exact position of the old shaft of Oranje Nassau Mine 1. An on-site artwork was commissioned by the building’s developer. Created by Ellen Brouwer, the work is titled Odonata Statistica (The Damselfly). It rises to a height of 15 metres and is 4 metres in diameter.

The glazing of the office wings (both inside and out) has been designed to reflect the layers of the earth. The CBS office is sustainably heated thanks to its connection with the Mijnwater project realised at the Oranje Nassau mines: water in the old mine galleries is used to heat and cool homes and buildings in the area.

Bonaire office, Kralendijk - 2012-present

office Bonaire – Kralendijk 2012

The existing statistical service was originally housed in a converted residential property. When taking over statistics for the BES Islands, it was decided to look for an alternative location for the Bonaire office. After a short search, it was decided in 2011 to move to the current location at Harbour Village Marina. The current property consists of four workrooms and one kitchen and has views of the harbour and the islet Klein Bonaire. The building was formally inaugurated on 11 May 2012 in the presence of then Director General Gosse van der Veen, Kingdom Representative Wilbert Stolte, Bonaire’s Lieutenant Governor Ms Emerencia and delegates from local government.