In international and West European practice, IMC is very common in five broad areas:
- Joint service production: This is one of the most popular areas of IMC. It involves cooperation in the provision of public services such as water supply, waste collection and public transportation. It generally consists of long-term cooperation in the form of joint enterprises or public law associations of municipalities.
- Joint administration: This area of cooperation is also very popular. It can comprise very different fields such as tax collection and administration, urban planning, the delivery of construction permits or public transport management and regulation. It often involves the establishment of joint offices that perform the tasks of several municipalities.
- Selling and buying of services among local governments: This is also a very common IMC area. It typically involves administratively, technically and/or financially stronger municipalities providing services to weaker municipalities in return for payment. It can comprise both administration (e.g. issuing payrolls) and service provision (e.g. road maintenance).
- Joint planning and development: This is used in areas when one municipality is too small in territory and/or population to effectively promote economic development or develop its tourism potential alone and needs to coordinate its actions with the neighbouring municipalities. IMC in joint planning and development often takes place in the context of cooperation among in the municipalities of large metropolitan areas.
- Joint funding: Joint funding is practised when several neighbouring municipalities pool their resources and jointly undertake a large capital investment that benefits all of them (e.g. building an airport, energy network or bridge). It is also commonly used by municipalities to allow them to access project funding that requires significant municipal co-financing that they would not be in a position to provide individually.