Declining attendance in the Dutch cervical cancer screening programme was recently observed, coinciding with preparations for implementing primary hrHPV-based screening, which was implemented in January 2017. We aimed to investigate which factors were related to decreased attendance. We conducted a population-based cohort study including all women aged 30 to 60 years who were eligible for screening between 2014 and 2018. Attendance was defined as participation in the screening programme within 15 months of the start of the invitation-eligible year. We used data from the Dutch pathology archive (PALGA) linked with data from Statistics Netherlands to investigate population characteristics (position in the household, household income, socio-economic status, number of people in the household, migration background, age) and data from the five Dutch screening organisations (SO) to investigate the effect of cessing self-inviting GP's (‘inviting organisation’). SO's were termed SO 1 to 5. Higher attendance rates were observed in women who were employed (60.8%), married (62.9%), Dutch (61.2%), in the highest income bracket (63.4%), living in households with four persons (65.3%) and women who were invited by their GP (69.8%). Differences in personal characteristics did not explain the decline in attendance rates. By adjusting for whether the GP or the SO sent the invitation, the differences in attendance rates between 2014 and 2015 and 2016 and between 2014 and 2015 and 2017–2018 were explained in some screening organisations. Removing the possibility for GPs to send invitations explains some of the decline in participation, although this did not account for the total change in attendance.