After graduating, Mr. Ivo Opstelten worked for the municipality of Vlaardingen (1970-1972). He was then Mayor of, successively, Dalen (1972-1977), Doorn (1987-1980) and Delfzijl (1980-1987).
In 1987, Mr Opstelten was appointed Director-General for Public Order and Safety at the Ministry of the Interior. He was Mayor of Utrecht from 1992 to 1997 and Mayor of Rotterdam from 1999 to 2008. He was acting Mayor of Tilburg from 2009 to 2010.
In 2010, from 4 August to 4 September and then again from 13 September to 7 October, Ivo Opstelten was the mediator in the negotiations that resulted in the formation of the Rutte-Verhagen government. From 14 October 2010 to 5 November 2012 he was Minister of Security and Justice in this government.
On 5 November 2012 Ivo Opstelten was appointed Minister of Security and Justice in the Rutte-Asscher government.