Not only companies involved with global trade and manufacturing and production abroad have points of contact with customs. Today, universities and non profit research institutions are also internationally networked, and it is by no means rare for them to participate in international research projects. In this context, scientific equipment, research devices and other items tend to be transported across borders. This is often done from a third country, i.e., countries outside the EU, to Germany. Often, customs obligations are not thought of here, which can lead to unpleasant surprises when a customs field audit or border inspection at an airport occurs.
Internationally active aid organizations or bodies of the federal government (e.g., the Technical Relief Agency) carry out significant customs related importations in their operations. If such entities do not properly control and treat such activities, they are not immune from customs obligations and possible criminal consequences.
Note: If a non profit organization is found to have committed a customs infringement, there is always a risk that the current management will be declared incompetent and its non profit status for that year will be denied. Given this risk, it is essential that such organizations give the necessary attention to customs requirements.