There are legal requirements in the UK as in most countries in the world to ensure the ownership of any vehicle is clear and that they adhere to the essentials to being on the road. The standard around the world seems to be a logbook (stating the specifications of the vehicle and who owns it), a MOT certificate (or proof or a regular test to ensure the car is at least roadworthy at the time of the test) and of course that insurance that should protect you and other road users should an incident occur.
So there should be no surprise that when buying or selling a vehicle ensuring certain documentation is in order is very important read more about documents. It is not until you consider buying vehicles in other western countries that you realize we are pretty luck in the UK with the DVLA. First of all it is a free service to transfer ownership detail, the buyer fills in a section on the logbook and the seller does too. Both send it their copies and within about 10 days or so, it is sent out back to you, ask for the cost of a couple of stamps.
Other Countries Harder and More Expensive
Compare this to Spain, where both buyer and seller should go to traffico, sign a legal document and then pay the relevant taxes and traffic for the service, that could easily cost 500 euros. No wonder, people do not sell their vehicles as often and often buy new and sell only when the car has come to the end of its life.
UK road tax has changed in recent years, in that it is no longer transferable, so can’t be a sweetner for a sale. This has a few implications, especially when buying privately, because in theory as soon as money has changed hands, the vehicle is in theory not taxed or insured. You can sort the insurance out with a phone call, but the tax is an online thing. However in the real world, the vehicle will not show up as untaxed for a while, so there should be time to get the vehicle home. But whether it is legal should an accident occur, may be another matter.
The MOT Fit For The Road
A valid MOT certificate is important to drive the car home also, but actually is not proof that the what you are driving is road legal. In theory it is just a snap shot in time, even if it has been done a few days ago, tyres, wiper blades etc all could have been changed or worse. So a check of the vehicle should still take place. The UK has quite a thorough MOT test compared to other European countries, so in reality on a mall amount of vehicles are affected, modern manufacturing processes also means a most vehicles can have a longer road life, should its value be worth it.