How can Foreigners Make Use of Pharmacy Services?

Turkey is a pretty developed country in terms of health services. In Turkey coming to the forefront with its attending physician and health personnel staff, easily accessible health services and the treatment methods integrated with technology, a number of arrangements have been issued in order for benefiting from these services by foreigners in Turkey too.

In order to take advantage of state hospitals, university hospitals or private hospitals in Turkey, it is necessary to be in the scope of general health insurance or private insurance. Thanks to general health insurance and private insurance, no fee is paid or symbolic fee is paid to health services.

When pharmacy services are discussed, again, concept of insurance should be addressed. Because general health insurance and private insurance also cover many pharmacy shopping. Insurance holder does not need to pay fee to many medicines.

The persons who have no insurance have to meet medicine fee themselves regardless their nationality. During the period when health coverage is lacking, paying out of pocket constantly of quite expensive medicines by citizens is an unsustainable situation.

How do the Pharmacies in Turkey operate?

In contrast to America and some European countries, medicine service is provided only by pharmacies in Turkey. Pharmacy service, the operating procedure of which is regulated with special regulations is quite efficient and prevalent in our country. The expression “one pharmacy should correspond to 3500 persons” may be shown as main reason to that. Therefore, depending on population density, at each point where settlement exists, pharmacies are easily accessible.

Pharmacy opening license is only granted to the persons graduated from faculty of pharmacy. Therefore, when you go to a pharmacy you will directly come across persons who are expert in their job.

Do Insurance Services Cover Purchase of Medicine?

According to laws, there is no need to pay fee so as to benefit from medicines in pharmacies for insured persons in Turkey. However, some medicines are out of the insurance scope. In order to purchase these medicines, payment should be made without making any distinction between insured or uninsured.

However, over the counter medicines like painkillers, antifebrile, etc. are also outside the scope of insurance. But it would be beneficial to express that fees of these medicines are quite low and can be met easily.

What are offering service hours for pharmacies?

Working hours in weekdays and weekend of pharmacies in Turkey are as follows;

Weekdays                      Opening: 08:30     Closing: 19:00

Saturday:                       Opening: 09:30     Closing:19:00

The persons who want to benefit from pharmacy services in Sunday and outside these hour intervals should apply to   the pharmacies rendering service for 24 hours. You can check over internet the pharmacies which offer service as pharmacy on duty in that day and the province where you live.

How do Foreigners benefit from Pharmacies?

Great part of the medicines sold in pharmacies are benefited free of charge by the persons who hold general health insurance of private insurance. Because medicine fee of these persons are met by state or insurance company.

In order to take advantage of pharmacy services freely, foreigners should be insured. Foreign persons should be insured.  For this, foreign persons should either have general health insurance supplied by state or private insurance provided by private insurance companies.

What to do to take advantage of General Health Insurance ?

From general health insurance and so from pharmacy services;

  • The foreigners who have obtained residence permit,
  • The foreigners who have no insurance in a country outside Turkey,
  • The citizens of foreign country who have been living for a time longer than one year and apply after this duration can make use of general health insurance.

The foreigners who wish to benefit from pharmacy services in Turkey should personally apply to the closest social security centre in order to lodge a general health insurance application.

The persons who will make an application should present the following certificates to social security centre:

  • Certificate of residence permit,
  • Original copy of photocopy of the letter which shows social security situations in terms of general health insurance application, taken from labour attache’s Office or social security institution of respective foreign country,
  • Letter of undertaking form

(link may be given to the letter “What to do benefit from Health Services in Turkey by Foreigners)

What to do to make use of Private Health Insurance?

Firstly in order to obtain residence permit, it is required to have private insurance in Turkey. The foreigners who want to stay in Turkey for a period more than the time recognized by visa or visa exemption should take out private health insurance from the insurance companies operating in Turkey in order to get residence permit.

In other words, since foreign persons who hold residence permit in Turkey has to take out private health insurance, they can make use of pharmacy services directly.

However, those who seek to enter within the scope of general health insurance by cancelling private health insurance may take advantage of pharmacies as holder of general health insurance, pursuing application steps of general health insurance.

Expat Guide Turkey

Expat Guide Turkey is a news website that shares important events in Turkey and news concerning foreigners in Turkey. It also contains a guide to undiscovered places, city and district about Turkey.


  1. I am a foreigner and will be in Istanbul just for a few days, would the pharmacys accept foreign doctors prescriptions.?

    1. Hello, yes, you can get your medicines from pharmacies in Turkey.

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