Healthcare in Bulgaria

Each country's health system is different, and might not include all the things you would expect to get free of charge from the NHS. This means you may have to make a patient contribution to the cost of your care.

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will enable you to access state-provided healthcare in Bulgaria at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free. It will cover your treatment until you return to the UK. It also covers treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care, providing the reason for your visit is not specifically to give birth.

Finding help in an emergency

If you find yourself in a serious, life-threatening situation, you should call 112. This number is free of charge and valid in all Bulgarian territories.

Health services and costs

Your EHIC does not cover private treatment. Make sure you are treated by a healthcare provider that has a contract with the Bulgarian National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).

You should be particularly careful if healthcare arrangements are made by a hotel or travel representative. Any costs incurred for private healthcare are non-refundable.

Contact NHIF for more advice before you travel. Call 00359 2 965 9116 from the UK. The NHIF website offers some information in English.


About 90% of doctors in Bulgaria are registered with the NHIF – however, always check before making an appointment. There is a small charge for seeing a doctor. This is non-refundable.

If you require medication, a doctor will usually issue you a receipt form (for non-chronic diseases) or a prescription (chronic illnesses).


You should consult a dentist who has a contract with the NHIF. However, a patient contribution might be charged. If the dentist does not have a contract with the NHIF, you will be charged the full cost of the treatment and those charges are not refundable.

Hospital treatment

Inpatient treatment is provided by public and private hospitals. However, you should ask to be referred to a hospital that has a contract with the NHIF, as they will cover the cost of treatment. After being discharged from hospital, you are entitled to a maximum of two examinations as part of your inpatient care.


If you have been issued a receipt form, you'll be able to get your medication either for free or at reduced costs. However, ensure you take the receipt form to a pharmacy that is registered with the NHIF – otherwise, you will have to pay the full price.

If you have been issued a prescription, you can visit any pharmacy in Bulgaria but you will have to pay the full cost. This is non-refundable.


Using an ambulance in cases of emergency is free.

Making healthcare arrangements in advance

Although your EHIC covers the provision of oxygen, renal dialysis and routine medical care, you'll have to arrange and pre-book medical treatment before you travel. You should always consult your GP or hospital before travelling. You should also ensure you are not booked with a private healthcare provider, as these are not covered by the EHIC.

Oxygen therapy

Ensure your EHIC is valid before you travel. In most cases, you will have to use the authorised oxygen company for the country you are travelling to. You will also have to make your own arrangements, including arranging for permission from your hotel to deliver and install the equipment. There may also be additional costs that the EHIC will not cover.

Your home oxygen supplier is not required to provide a service outside the UK; however, most suppliers can advise you on what to do. Your oxygen treatment clinic will organise your home oxygen supply from one of these suppliers:

Air Liquide: call them on:

  • 0808 143 9991 for London
  • 0808 143 9992 for North West
  • 0808 143 9993 for East Midlands
  • 0808 143 9999 for South West

Baywater Healthcare: covers Yorkshire and Humberside, West Midlands and Wales. Call them on 0800 373 580. For more information, visit the Baywater Healthcare website.

BOC: covers the East and North East of England. Call them on 0800 136 603.

Dolby Vivisol: covers the South of England. Call them on 0500 823 773.

The British Lung Foundation (BLF) may have additional oxygen contacts for the country you are travelling to. Their website offers general advice about travelling abroad with a lung condition.

Make sure you allow plenty of time to make all your arrangements before you travel.


You will need to speak to the coordinator in your UK Dialysis Unit, who will contact the dialysis unit in Bulgaria nearest to where you will be staying. You can look up UK renal units on the Renal Association website.

Ensure you make arrangements according to your UK schedule. There may also be different guidance, depending on the type of dialysis you receive. Make sure you speak to your doctor before you travel. The National Kidney Federation website offers general advice about travelling with a kidney disease, as well as specific guidance for haemodialysis patients, peritoneal dialysis patients and guidelines for transplant patients.

The NHS website has advice on travelling with various conditions. These include:

Living in Bulgaria

Everyone who is eligible for health insurance in Bulgaria is registered with the Bulgarian NHIF. This is the only organisation in Bulgaria that deals with compulsory health insurance. Once you are registered with the relevant authorities, you are entitled to necessary medical treatment and you will have to pay the same patient contributions as a permanent resident of Bulgaria.

Registration is also necessary to obtain your Bulgarian National Health Insurance Card (Амбулаторна здравна карта). You will have to present the card every time you see a doctor or dentist.

For more information, contact the Bulgarian NHIF:

National Health Insurance Fund
1 Krichim Str.
Sofia 1407

Telephone: 00359 2 965 9116

Or visit the Ministry of Health website (information in Bulgarian only).

Working in Bulgaria

If you are a worker posted by a UK company to Bulgaria, you may be entitled to health cover funded by the UK in Bulgaria. Contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for more details:

National Insurance Contributions and Employer Office
HM Revenue and Customs
United Kingdom

Telephone: 0300 200 3506
Outside UK: +44 191 203 7010
Opening times: 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday – closed weekends and bank holidays
For more information, visit the Moving abroad section.


If you live in Bulgaria and you receive an exportable UK Pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit, you may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You will need to apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 form.

For exportable UK pensions and contribution-based Employment Support Allowance, you can apply for your form via the International Pension Centre at the Department for Work and Pensions on 0191 218 7777.

You may need to liaise with a different team, depending on the exportable benefit. Further information is available under claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad on the GOV.UK website. Please note that different exportable benefits can have different rules in terms of healthcare cover.

Once issued, register the S1 form with the relevant authority in Bulgaria. Often you need to do this before you can register for healthcare or obtain a medical card.

Once you have registered your S1 in Bulgaria, you will be entitled to apply for and use a UK-issued EHIC to access state-funded necessary medical treatment when you visit other EEA countries.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides useful information about what UK and Bulgarian benefits are available to Britons living in Bulgaria.

Studying in Bulgaria

If you are coming to study or are currently studying in Bulgaria as part of a UK-recognised course, you may be entitled to healthcare paid for by the UK government.

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Page last reviewed: 21/10/2016
Next review due: 21/10/2019