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Doctors And Pharmacies In Bulgaria

Nobody likes to think about becoming ill, especially in a foreign country, but when you are emigrating healthcare options should be one of the foremost considerations. If you have an existing medical complaint, or require ongoing medication, it is important to find out whether you can obtain the same medication in Bulgaria.


Usually, it is not a problem to find identical medication. Most common complaints, such as diabetes, heart problems, arthritis or allergies will be treated with the same medicines as in the UK, and usually stocked at a cheaper price.

For unusual medication, that you cannot find stocked in a pharmacy (or "apteka" in Bulgarian), you will need to find a GP who will prescribe an available alternative. Many of the large name medications from the UK will often have overseas variations, containing a slight different ingredient to adhere to that country's regulations, but will effectively provide the same treatment.

In order to inform your new Bulgarian doctor of your medical history, to ensure you get the correct treatments, you need to bring a medical health certificate from England, detailing previous diagnosis and treatments, which your doctor should print on an official letterhead. It is also well worth getting any records translated and officially copied, as it can't be expected that everyone in the Bulgarian medical service will speak English!

Of course, not everyone requires the services of a doctor immediately after moving to Bulgaria, but if you have children that you wish to enrol in school, or you want to attend university here, you need to have a medical health certificate from a certified GP. This will involve giving samples and having routine checks such as blood pressure. For those setting up in the restaurant trade, especially if you will be the one cooking, new regulations mean you must also get regular tests such as these.

To enrol with a Bulgarian doctor under the Bulgarian health service, you will need a residency permit, and a foreigner registration number, the number that is needed for healthcare. You will still have to pay for treatment however, unless you pay voluntary contributions to the Bulgarian national health service. If you have an active Bulgarian registered company, you will have to pay this contribution regardless.

You need an EHIC, which was formerly called E111, to gain treatment if your stay in Bulgaria is only temporary (i.e. under three months), and this handy card will also help you to obtain your residence permit. To obtain the card, simply fill the form out at with a forwarding UK address, and the card will be delivered.

If you want to see a private doctor in Bulgaria, all you need to do is call or turn up to arrange an appointment, and pay at the end. You will need your passport or Bulgarian residence permit. With this method there is no guarantee you will always see the same doctor, and no personal records are held on file, you will just be given any documents like x-rays or test results to present to the next doctor if needed. Some people don't like this impersonal approach, and find it easier to form bonds with just one doctor. However, this ‘casual doctor' style is ideal if you have a one-off complaint, like a sprained ankle or eye infection, and want to be seen fast. In general, the private system is a fast and effective one, particularly when it comes to diagnosis and testing. This is very unlike the UK where you can be left waiting for weeks for test results.

The pharmacies in Bulgaria are different from those in the UK, inasmuch as the pharmacists can stock and supply medicines that you may have usually needed a prescription for.

Often, if you have a mild complaint, such as a throat infection or migraines, and you don't want to visit a doctor, a qualified pharmacist will help to diagnose you and recommend the best treatments. Medicines that can be bought in Bulgaria without prescription include antibiotics, such for chest infections, throat infections, mouth infections or ulcers, inhalers and nasal sprays, specialist antihistamines, sleeping tablets, and stronger painkillers.

Many of the larger pharmacies also provide blood pressure and sugar level checks, and have weighing scales. However, one of the problems with Bulgarian pharmacies is that you will need to be able to describe your symptoms in Bulgarian, as many pharmacists will only have a limited knowledge of English.

Bulgarian pharmacies also stock a range of homeopathic medicines, and many Bulgarians will sooner try herbal tablets or special tea rather than ‘chemical' medicines first off. These types of medicines can also be provided after diagnosis in a pharmacist, and can prove very effective for complaints such as verrucas, muscle sprains, migraines and aching joints.