Civic competencies are essential prerequisites for adolescents’ active citizenship; however, little is known about their developmental precursors. In order to address this research gap, this study examined the role of sympathy in late childhood, early, and mid adolescence for civic competencies in mid and late adolescence. Based on a representative sample of 1118 Swiss children (51% females, Mage T1 = 9.26, SDageT1 = 0.20, rangeageT1: 8.50–9.67–years), this study investigated associations of sympathy with four components of civic competence: attitudes about social justice, informal helping, perceived efficacy to take responsibility and perceived political efficacy. The findings revealed that sympathy in late childhood (i.e., age 9) reflected an early predictor of all four components of civic competence assessed 6 years later. Moreover, sympathy in early adolescence (i.e., age 12) positively predicted attitudes about social justice and informal helping in late adolescence (i.e., age 18). Lastly, changes in sympathy from mid to late adolescence (i.e., age 15 to 18) positively correlated with changes in all four components of civic competence. This study highlights that civic competencies reflect a multidimensional construct that starts to form in late childhood, with sympathy being a central individual predictor in the emergence of civic competencies during adolescence.