Health

IMPORTANT INFORMATION REGARDING COVID-19

Update from 15 July 2020.

The epidemiological situation has worsened in Croatia and the number of newly infected has increased in the last few weeks. Therefore the National Civil Protection Headquarters introduced following measures and decisions for prevention and containment of the further outbreaks and spreading of the COVID-19 virus: 

Effective from 13 July 2020 face masks (reusable) or medical masks are mandatory for: 

  • employees of health care institutions and persons visiting patients, if visits are allowed
  • drivers, other employees in public transport vehicles and public transport passengers
  • workers in shops and customers during their shopping
  • workers in restaurants who are in contact with guests or work in serving and preparing meals and beverages 
  • other persons bound to do so by special instructions and recommendations of the Croatian Institute of public Health
  • post offices and banks and all other services in which people have to wait in queues
  • and in all other service activities with close contact between service providers and the customer like hairdressers, cosmeticians, massage therapists, nail parlors and similar. 

Hand sanitation is very important and should be used frequently after contact with other people and, especially, when entering and exiting stores, shops or other institutions. 

Also, it is very important to keep personal distance of min 2 m indoors, and 1,5 m outdoors at all times.

The special regime is introduced on the borders for passengers from third countries traveling to Croatia: mandatory quarantine for 14 days after arrival or for 7 days, provided the passenger takes a PCR test, at his own expense.

Update from 18 May 2020

Since the epidemiological situation regarding the COVID-19 disease in Croatia is stabilising with very few people getting ill and more people getting healthy, the restrictive measures are mostly loosened and public life is slowly getting back to normal.

Almost all activities and public events are now allowed, with certain restrictions.

While conducting all business and activities, adhering to personal distance and hygienic recommendations are recommended. Wearing a face mask, keeping personal distance of min 1,5 meters and hand disinfection are recommended! Wearing protective face masks and disinfection of space, tools and hands are obligatory for persons who conduct service activities in close contact with people, such as hairdressers, cosmetitians, massage therapists.

Gatherings are allowed, but not more than 40 people at one place.

Most schools are reopened for a limited number of students, while class is still being organised remotely – through internet and TV.

Public transport is now reactivated. Movement between provinces is allowed and you do not need an e-pass to leave the place of residence anymore.

National borders are opened and Croatian citizens can now enter and exit the country while adhering to the Public health service recommendations. Traveling to other countries, though, depends on the entry restriction regulations of those countries

In Croatia a state of epidemic has been declared on 11 March 2020. There are measures taken to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Public life and movement are still restricted!

All shops are now opened except those in shopping malls!

Gatherings of more than 5 people are prohibited.

Kindergartens, schools and universities are closed until further notice. Students are continuing their education from home through online learning.

Most public events are suspended.

Cultural activities like theaters, cinemas, concerts, festivals, shows and fairs are suspended, except libraries, museums, galleries, antiques and bookstores which are now open.

Business engaged in service activities, except those that can’t avoid close contact with customers are allowed to work, respecting physical distance measures (for example, carpenter, tailor, locksmith, travel agencies, photo studio)

Bars, pubs, restaurants, clubs and catering establishments are closed. Restaurants are allowed to deliver prepared food. 

Public kitchens are open only for takeaway. 

Service activities in close contact with customers (e.g. hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, pedicures, massage parlors) are allowed to open from 4 May, in the special regime and respecting the prescribed epidemiological measures.

All sports competitions and organized training practices are suspended, and gyms, sports centers, fitness and recreation centers are closed, with the exception of training of I and II. category athletes in individual sports and senior sports teams competing in the highest level of competition.

Children playgrounds and public sports fields are allowed to be used from 4 May.

Children’s and other workshops and organized dance schools are suspended.

Driving schools and foreign language schools are suspended.

Religious gatherings are allowed from 2 May, in the special regime and respecting the measures of physical distancing and other epidemiological measures.

All those who have not been suspended and are continuing to work must adhere to strict hygiene rules.

Public transport between cities is suspended. Movement between provinces is restricted and allowed only for necessary purposes and with the position of the e-pass issued by the authorities. Movement within the provinces is allowed, and urban public transport is operating again.

Taxis work, but cars have to be disinfected after every passenger and also adhere to strict hygiene rules.

Update from 27 April 2020.

Relaxation of the epidemic protective measures

Since the epidemiological situation in Croatia is stabilising with fewer people getting ill and more people getting healthy, in order to relaunch the economy and other activities in the context of a declared epidemic of COVID-19 disease, restrictive protective measures are going to be loosened and some activities are going to be allowed again in the next weeks. The loosening of the restriction measures is going to be carried out gradually in 3 phases starting from Monday, April 27th and May 4th and 11th, There are still going to be strict hygienic and personal distance rules and the allowed activities are going to be carried out with adjustment to the situation.

The relaxation phases in detail:

PHASE 1 – April 27th, 2020

  • Shops, except those operating within shopping centers, are allowed to open. 
  • Business in service activities, except those in which close contact with customers is observed, respecting physical distance measures (for example, carpenter, tailor, locksmith, travel agencies, photo studio).
  • Public city and suburban transport lines and express lines for islands not connected by ferry. 
  • Libraries, museums, galleries, antiques and bookstores 
  • Training of I and II. category athletes in individual sports and senior sports teams competing in the highest level of competition
  • The state professional exam for priority groups of students
  • Religious gatherings will be allowed from May 2nd.

PHASE 2 – May 4th, 2020

  • Full operation of the public health system, with the restrictions in line with the Ministry of Health measures
  • Full operation of the private health system, with due regard for specific epidemiological measures
  • Business entities engaged in service activities in which close contact with clients is observed, with respect to specific epidemiological measures (for example, hairdressers, beauticians, barbers, pedicurists, physiotherapists, massage parlors)

PHASE 3 – May 11th, 2020

  • Gatherings of up to 10 people in one place allowed, while respecting physical distance measures
  • Shopping malls reopening, with respecting specific epidemiological measures
  • Preschools and elementary classes from grades 1-4 and special classes and working with children with disabilities who have a teaching assistant
  • In higher education, laboratory and clinical exercises and practical work allowed in small groups
  • Reopening of inter-county and domestic air services
  • Allowing restaurants to work exclusively in outdoor areas and terraces
  • Allowing hotel/hostel restaurants to work only for users of accommodation services
  • Operation of national and nature parks allowed
  • Expanding opportunities for issuing e-passes

Medical help and further information

In case you feel the symptoms of possible COVID-19 infection (coughing, fever, shortness of breath), DO NOT go to the medical center, but call your doctor first. If this is not available, call 112 for further instructions.

Official government website for Coronavirus in Croatia is https://www.koronavirus.hr/

Organisation JRS has opened a call centre about Coronavirus for refugees

in Arabic: +385 97 645 9593 i +385 97 630 7910

and in Farsi: +385 97 660 2674

For psycho-social support you can contact the RCT team via inbox of the Facebook page: https://web.facebook.com/rct.zagreb/

Legal assistance by mail and telephone – for legal counseling and free legal aid you can contact Centre for Peace Studies (CMS) at cms@cms.hr or on 091240 0185. 9am to 1pm.

Public employment offices do not work in direct contact with clients, but email or phone information are available. Online registration in the unemployed database and applying for unemployment benefit is prefered.

Social service centers work only with emergency cases. Contacting social workers through phone or email is prefered.

Healthcare rights

If you are asylum seeker, you have the right to emergency medical help and necessary treatment of serious illnesses or mental health conditions, without paying.  

If you are granted international protection, you and your family members have the right to health care services in the same scope as any other person in Croatia who is covered with basic compulsory health insurance

You can use, without paying, services of:

  • primary health care of general practitioner (family doctor), gynecologist, pediatrician and dentist,
  • diagnostic examinations in health centers, laboratories and hospitals with referral from the general physician,
  • specialist health services and hospital treatments that the general physician refers you to,
  • emergency medical assistance and ambulance transport,
  • medications prescribed to you by general physician.

For some services that are not covered by the basic health insurance, you have to cover the costs yourself.

How can I access healthcare?

If you have international protection and you are unemployed, your residence permit card (ID card) is sufficient to receive health care services. Your family members can also go to the doctors with their ID cards. 

When you get employed you are automatically insured with the basic compulsory health insurance. You will be issued a health insurance card (white-red) by theCroatian Health Insurance Fund, which you have to show when you go to doctors. If you pay for supplementary health insurance, you will be issued additional health insurance card (orange)that you need to show when receiving health services. 

Available Services

Primary healthcare

Primary health care services are usually your first contact point in Croatian health care system. You will get primary health care from:

  • general physician (family doctor) in your local health center (Croatian: “Dom zdravlja”),
  • dentist (also at health center, or private practice that has a contract with public health insurance fund)
  • pediatrician for children,
  • gynecologist for women.   

You do not need a referral to visit a primary care physician, however, you usually need to make an appointment (by phone or in person). If you get sick suddenly, you can go to your doctor’s office without making an appointment, in which case you will have to wait for your turn. 

Emergency

You should seek emergency medical services (Croatian: HITNA POMOĆ) only in cases when your life may be threatened or you can have severe health consequences. 

Emergency medical service in Croatia is available 24 hours per day all week and during holidays.

For emergency medical services you should call 112 or 194. 

When making such emergency call you will need to: 

  • introduce yourself, 
  • tell them what happened, 
  • who needs help, 
  • what is your location. 

It is important to stay calm and carefully listen to instructions. After you make the call, keep the phone line clear in case emergency team would have to call you back.

Specialist

Your primary health care physician, usually your general or family doctor, decides if you need some additional tests (for example in laboratories) or further examinations. He/she will give you a referral to specialist or for laboratory tests. This referral is called “UPUTNICA” in Croatian.

Specialist health care services are provided by making an appointment only. Usually your general physician makes the appointment and you should go to the specialist on a specified date and time. In case you wish to be examined by a physician of certain gender (male or female), you need to mention this when making such appointment.

For some examinations and specialist treatments, unfortunately, there are long waiting lists in Croatia. It is common to wait for several months for some examinations. Croatians have to wait that long as well. However, if your health condition requires that you are examined quickly, you will be given a priority.

If you need to be treated in the hospital you will get an appointment and your general physician will give you a referral.

Where can I get medicine?

You can get medicines only in pharmacies. For most medicines you need a prescription from your general physician, which can be online or written on the paper. For some medicines you do not need the prescription (for example for fever, pain, cough, etc.) and you can buy them in pharmacies. You do not have to pay for prescribed medicines if they are on the list of medicines covered by public health insurance fund, but for some medicines the cost is only partially covered and you will need to pay part of the cost.

Each city has at least one pharmacy that is open 24/7, in case of emergencies.

How can I find a doctor?

You can find a general physician or a family medicine specialist in community health center or individual medical practice. Usually, they are located in local community in larger cities or in your municipality, if you live in a smaller town. General physician is, in most cases, your first contact point in the health system.

If you have basic health insurance you are entitled to have the “chosen physician” with whom you are registered. If you do not have health insurance, you do not have the right to have a “chosen physician”. However, you can go to the nearest general physician for examinations and medical treatments, as if you are covered with basic health insurance.

Health Insurance

Basic health insurance is compulsory for all citizens in Croatia and foreigners with temporary and permanent residence status. 

All persons, citizens and foreigners, who are employed, are automatically insured with basic health insurance; that means a portion of their salary goes to Public Health Insurance Fund. Basic health insurance covers the most general and urgent healthcare services and examinations.

Supplementary health insurance is a voluntary insurance, which you can pay additionally, but only if you have basic health insurance. It costs cca 9€ per month. It covers the difference between the full price of healthcare service and the share that is covered by basic health insurance. 

Even if you have supplementary health insurance there can be some costs regarding health care and health services that you will have to pay.

Further Information and Links

Health care system in Croatia

Health insurance in Croatia

Croatian health system navigation guide in English 

Croatian health system navigation guide in Arabic

Croatian health system navigation guide in Farsi