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If your vehicle is 3 years or older you are required by law to have an annual safety check commonly known as the MoT Test. The purpose of the MoT test is to ensure the vehicle meets the minimum safety level required by law.
During the MoT test the nominated tester, a person authorised by VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency) will inspect and check the vehicle including the interior, exterior, under the bonnet and under the vehicle. The result of each test is recorded and if your vehicle passes you will be awarded a certificate. If the vehicle fails you will be issued with a notification of failure.
It is the car owners responsibility to get the vehicle tested. Without a current certificate, you will be driving your vehicle illegally.
The penalty for not having an up to date MoT certificate could be a fine. Also if the vehicle is involved in an accident you may be asked to produce your MoT certificate. An insurance claim could be affected by the absence of your MoT, especially in the case of injury.